2023 Genesis GV60 Performance First Drive: Badge-Engineering Done Right

It wasn’t long ago that badge-engineering was a dirty word in the automotive world. And why shouldn’t it have been? Automakers were churning out near-identical versions of its cars—like say, the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car—charging more for the “luxury” versions while doing the bare minimum to differentiate styling or powertrains. Most automakers were scared away from the experiment after watching the big American automakers stumble through the Great Recession, so it was curious that with the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Genesis GV60 that Hyundai effectively mimicked the model. Same platform, identical motors, albeit with drastically different skins. We’ve driven the Ioniq 5 and EV6 extensively and were impressed by both. We’ve now had the chance to get behind the wheel of the new 2023 GV60 Performance—the South Korean luxury brand’s first EV—and it turns out that maybe badge-engineering—or maybe we should call it brand-engineering?—when done right, isn’t so bad after all.

What Does the GV60 Share With the Ioniq 5 and EV6?

Looking over the new 2023 GV60’s spec sheet, it’d be quite easy to dismiss it as a more expensive, luxed-up variant of the Hyundai or Kia. All three EVs ride on Hyundai’s E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform) architecture, sport 800-volt (read: fast-charging) 77.4-kWh battery packs under the floor, and share their dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrains (though the Hyundai and Kia are both available with single-motor rear-drive and a smaller battery pack). The “base” Genesis GV60 Advanced even sports the same motors as the Hyundai and Kia—two permanent-magnet units good for a combined 314 hp and 446 lb-ft of torque (though the GV60 Advanced is interestingly 6 ponies shy of the Ioniq 5 and EV6).

So, what’s different? Well, for starters, the GV60 Performance we spent the day in is more powerful than any current Ioniq 5 or EV6. It replaces the Advanced’s front motor with the larger rear motor at the front axle. Combined output rises to a smile-inducing 429 hp, with torque remaining flat. Press the green Boost button on the steering wheel—another GV60 exclusive—and power rises to 483 hp and 516 lb-ft for a 10-second spurt. To its standard equipment list, the GV60 Performance also adds an electronic limited-slip differential at the rear, plus an electronically adjustable suspension. We expect to see these features make their way to the promised EV6 GT in the next few years.

There are other changes, too, both subtle and overt. The GV60, for instance, is slightly smaller than its siblings. Its wheelbase is slightly shorter than that of the EV6 and 4 inches shy of the Ioniq 5, while its overall length is about 7 inches shorter and 4 inches wider than its siblings. Rather than presenting itself as a wagon (EV6) or hatch (Ioniq 5), the GV60 very much looks the part of a luxury fastback SUV, with its split signature headlights, functional grille (a rarity for an EV), and swept-back Tesla Model Y-inspired roofline.

Tech is the other differentiating factor. Although the GV60 shares its twin 12.3-inch dash and infotainment displays with the Hyundai and Kia, it has a unique (for now) cloud-connected infotainment suite that enables both the system and the vehicle to be updated over the air. It also features connected services, like Face Connect entry, and a fingerprint reader to start your car. It’s also Apple Car Key-capable, allowing you to text your keys to someone else. Should the connected services creep you out some, Genesis also includes two traditional key fobs, one black and the other white, with the GV60.

On the Road With the GV60 Performance

Having spent quite a bit of time with both the Ioniq 5 and EV6 recently—and ignoring the weird feeling of scanning a face and finger to enter and start a car—our first impression of the Genesis after setting off in the GV60 was how similarly it drove to the Hyundai and Kia. Power delivery in its default drive mode is slingshot-smooth, while switching to Sport mode results in a hair-trigger throttle mapping that’ll throw you back in your seat if you even think about breathing on it. Boost mode, which functions much like Hyundai’s “N-Grin Shift” button on the Veloster N, works as advertised, giving you ample passing power and a taste of the GV60 Performance’s 483 hp for 10 seconds at a time. Brake tuning in the GV60 is good, with five modes (L1 through L3, iPedal, and Auto) of regeneration. Despite trying to make ourselves like the Auto setting, which adjusts regen based on your location, traffic, and current speed, we found ourselves bouncing back and forth between the two most aggressive modes, L3 and iPedal, via the convenient steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

The GV60 Performance largely rides the same as the Kia and Hyundai, too. It’s softly sprung and bounds ever so slightly up and over bumps. Sport mode irons out the ride some, eliminating the bounding without ruining the ride quality. Around L.A. ‘s famous canyon roads, the GV60 Performance is playful and endearing, with a charming amount of body roll, quick—if a bit numb—steering, and an aggressive limited-slip rear differential that helps get the Genesis’ nose pointed at the next straight, enabling you to unleash Boost mode yet again. A good set of tires (the GV60 Performance rides on the same Michelin Primacy all-seasons as the Ioniq 5) would go a long way to help the car further live up to its name—there’s quite a bit of noise and scrub from the tires when driven in the same manner one might a Model Y Performance or Ford Mustang Mach-E GT and not enough grip to make full use of the power on tap.

What’s the GV60 Like Inside?

Despite some obvious shared switchgear, the GV60 feels fairly higher quality and significantly more luxurious inside than its siblings. The cabin is decked out in leather and Alcantara, the latter of which literally drips down the pillars and doors (though the standard GV60 Adventure uses artificial leather and fabrics made from recycled materials). As with vehicles like the SUV of the Year-winning GV70, the GV60 sports thoughtful interior touches, like a crystal sphere atop the floating center console that rotates to reveal the shifter when the car is started, and a scent diffuser on the passenger-side front door that takes advantage of the space that’s used for mirror controls on the driver’s side.

The cabin itself is roomy and comfortable—the front seats are supportive and automatically make small movements if you’ve been in the saddle awhile, ensuring you stay fresh. In back there’s plenty of room for adults, which is impressive considering the GV60’s small dimensions, underfloor battery, and full-length panoramic roof.

How How Far Can the GV60 Go on a Charge? Is the GV60 Worth It?

Range anxiety likely won’t be a major consideration for GV60 owners. The Performance model can travel up to 235 miles on a charge, while the less powerful GV60 Advanced nets 248 miles. Regardless of the range rating, all GV60s, like the big-battery Ioniq 5 and EV6, are capable of peak charging at 235 kW, meaning you can go from 10 to 80 percent charge (or 23 miles to 188 miles) in as little as 18 minutes.

The GV60 may share its batteries and motors with mainstream Hyundai and Kia products, but it’s to the Genesis’ benefit, not detriment—even if we wish the GV60 were sportier. Instead of reinventing the wheel with the GV60’s underpinnings, Genesis designed a compact crossover topper that looks and feels unlike anything either its siblings or its rivals are doing. Although the GV60 is the first EV from an automaker that’s just out of diapers, it’s bound to be the textbook example for other automakers in how to badge- (or brand-)engineer for the EV age.

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