First Drive: 2023 Genesis GV60

In an industry where beige is the benchmark, Genesis’ first EV dares to be fun in a dozen little ways

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No one knows where the beige started. You couldn’t pinpoint the decisive moment when beige overtook the pages of Better Homes and Gardens magazines and the screens of HGTV, but over the course of a few years, it did. It arose from the tumultuous and unsure years following 9/11, and the desire to seek comfort in our lived spaces, away from the chaos. It came to our cars, too. But then, against the beige, there was a counter-movement: Be brave, not beige.

The 2023 Genesis GV60 is very brave indeed. The GV60 is Genesis’ first ever EV, and the smallest member of the brand’s SUV lineup, below the GV70 and GV80. You can see plainly from exterior that risks were taken with the design. Despite this, it wears some proven Genesis hallmarks, like the two-lines headlamps and diamond-shaped grille.

The GV60 looks like no other car on the road, and in the very best way possible, it seems like an EV designed by people who had never seen another EV. The lightning bolt character line, the low grille for battery cooling, and the bold colour palette all point to a design confidence we haven’t seen since the F-Type debuted.

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In America, the GV60 is offered in RWD and AWD configurations, but in Canada, AWD is standard, and you have your choice of two dual-motor powertrains. The standard trim is the Advanced, which comes in at $71,000 and gives you a 74-kw front motor paired with a 160-kw rear motor. These combine to deliver 314 hp and 446 lb-ft of torque. Range for the Advanced model is 399 km.

The top trim level is the Performance, at $79,000. It gives you a 160-kw motor in the front and the rear, and combined these make 429 hp and 446 lb-ft of torque — unless you use “Boost Mode.” Boost Mode is activated by a yellow button on the steering wheel, and it gives you a 10-second shot of increased output that takes hp up 37 to 483; and torque up 70 lb-ft to 516. With Boost Mode engaged, we timed the zero-to-96-km/h sprint in 4.0 seconds flat. With the larger front motor, range on the Performance drops to 378 km.

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Aside from the increased output, the Performance trim nets you an electronic rear limited-slip differential; Bang & Olufsen premium audio; surround-view monitor; 21-inch wheels; and the aforementioned Boost Mode.

2023 Genesis GV60

Inside, there is no beige to be found, either in colour or in emotion. The GV60 is offered in three interior hues: black (boring); white (stylish, but impractical); and navy blue with neon yellow accents, which is my favorite. The latter is only available on the top Performance trim.

Efforts have been made to make the cabin feel very open and airy. Every GV60 ships with a standard panoramic glass sunroof, for starters. There is also a floating center console, and the floor is completely flat with no driveshaft hump. Though some “corporate” Hyundai switchgear can be found if you look hard enough, a commendable effort has been to make the GV60 interior feel unique.

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Do you ponder the orb? Those sitting down inside the GV60 for the first time may be perplexed as to why there is a backlit crystal ball sitting where a gear selector would normally be. But push the start button and a hidden electric motor rotates the ball 180 degrees to reveal a rotary-style shifter. Genesis says this act of theatre has an actual purpose. Electric cars are silent and they don’t “idle,” so this can make it difficult to know when the car is actually “on.” Genesis says it added the back-flipping gearshift to give a visual indication of when the car is on, or just in accessory mode.

2023 Genesis GV60

Genesis has really taken bold steps with the textures and colour palettes of the interior. I love the design and layout of it. Fun, thoughtful touches are everywhere you look. For example, the power adjustment for the mirrors sits on its own silver perch, adjusted by a knurled knob. The glove box slides open like a drawer, rather than hinging open as most do.

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One interesting thing about the GV60 interior is that you won’t find any USB-A ports anywhere in the car. The GV60 has four USB-C ports (two per row of seating) and a typical two-prong household outlet, but no old-fashioned USB-A. And honestly, if you’re buying a forward-looking car like this, you probably converted to USB-C accessories a while ago. But fret not if you don’t have the correct cord, because there is wireless phone charging. Just note that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto require a wired connection to work.

And while I greatly admire the design and layout of the interior, at $79,000 for our Performance test car, not all of the interior materials were of a quality that matched the price tag. Some parts of the interior felt a bit more $50,000 than $80,000. For example, the Buck Rogers mirror adjustment knob I praised earlier looks great, but it would also feel great if it was made out of aluminum and not silver plastic.

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Getting inside the GV60 is a unique experience as well. Of course, you can use a typical fob to lock and unlock the doors, but the GV60 also has a facial-recognition camera in the driver’s-side B-pillar, which you can use to lock or unlock your car — with your face. As far as I can tell, Genesis is the first car company ever to offer this technology on a vehicle for this purpose.

The advantage is that you can hypothetically leave your keys in the car or go keyless when doing an activity like hiking or swimming, when you don’t want a fob in your pocket. Ford achieves the exact same result by simply putting a five-button numeric keypad on the door of the Mach E. It reminds me of the famous story of the Americans developing, at extreme cost, a pressurized pen to use in space, when the Soviets simply used a pencil to do the same job. Nevertheless, it’s novel and it actually works.

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Having unlocked the car with your cool facial-recognition door, you can then choose to start it with either a key or your fingerprint. That’s right, a little button you touch your finger to will recognize your digit and allow the car to be started. Again, Ford achieves a similar effect with the Mach-E by letting you use your phone as a key, though, admittedly, Ford’s phone key system isn’t that reliable, and the Genesis fingerprint system worked for me (and others on the trip) every single time.

2023 Genesis GV60

I immediately had privacy concerns when learning about this tech, but Genesis assured me even though the car is capable of receiving over-the-air (OTA) updates, the facial and fingerprint data is stored offline, in the car itself, and not uploaded to the cloud. It is worth noting you can easily delete this data from the car at any time, or simply choose not to use it and stick with the standard fob arrangement, which works well.

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No matter which way you end up unlocking and starting the GV60, odds are you’ll have a good time driving it. Like all electrics, the (considerable) weight is down low, and power delivery is smooth. On winding roads, the GV60 was deceptively playful, and pressing the bright yellow BOOST button to zip out of corners never got old.

Outward visibility is excellent for its class, and the seats are extremely comfortable. The impressively good sound insulation made sure you could hear every note played through the B&O sound system.

2023 Genesis GV60

If you’re interested in the GV60, you’re not alone: some 1,500 Canadian pre-orders have already been placed. Genesis expects that of those 1,500, some 60 per cent will actually follow through on their purchase, so in short, if you order a GV60 today, you’d likely see it on your driveway between six months and one year from now.

Genesis has taken a lot of risks with the design of the GV60, and it’s also gone out of its way to make it fun in ways that only an EV can do. The Boost Mode is pure comic-book theatre, and the flip-up shifter is just plain fun. Genesis could have gone beige with the GV60 — but it chose to be brave instead.


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