There have been a lot of memorable shooting brakes over the years, from the traditional two-door offerings like the Reliant Scimatar and Lynx Eventer to the more recent efforts like Mercedes' sumptuous CLS Shooting Brake. Not as practical as a dedicated estate but far more stylish - and still more usable than a coupe - it's clear enough to see where a shooting brake might fit into a niche-obsessed automotive world. However, beyond this new Genesis G70 and cars like the CLA, there aren't many 'brakes around - badged as such, or otherwise. The choice now is often between conventional wagon, five-door coupe hatch or SUV. Is there still a place for the design-led estate car?
Plainly this is the best-looking Genesis yet, almost as if the brand cues - the grille, the lights and the 'parabolic lines' most notably - were first created for it and then made to fit across the range. The grille and lights together are actually intended to mimic the Genesis badge, with wings off a central logo; sounds a silly idea, but works well in reality. The G70 is compact, stylish and attention grabbing, and unlike any other estate out there at the moment. Smaller than the VW Arteon and more cohesive than the CLA, the G70 is, to these eyes, a really successful bit of design. It doesn't droop as some wagons can at the back, and suits all colours and specifications - always the mark of something well thought out. The sportier specifications that will be most popular in the UK are especially smart, and different without being showy.
But there's a price to be paid for the aesthetic appeal - the G70 simply isn't very big inside. As in surprisingly snug, without much legroom at all in the back and headroom impinged upon as well. A seats-up boot capacity of 465 litres is said to be a 40 per cent improvement on the G70 saloon, yet remains far from notable for an estate. Seats down it's 1,535 litres; again, good without being great. Genesis will have to hope that's deemed a worthy trade-off for such a handsome car. The Shooting Brake is pitched by its maker as a 'roomy GT coupe' rather than a 'spacious wagon', though that might prove a tough sell with hatchback-cum-coupes like the Sportback Audis and Gran Coupe BMWs out there as well.
If a tad bijou, the rest of the Shooting Brake interior is good. The leather is nice and most of the materials decent, although a few switches and buttons feel a tad low-rent. Still, the layout is logical, with nice big screens and controls where they should be, and the infotainment system works well - albeit a tad familiar from cheaper Hyundais. Much is made of the 3D 'stereospheric' instruments, although don't really add much over conventional dials.
In the UK, G70 Shooting Brake buyers will be offered either a 200hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel or a 2.0-litre, turbo petrol, offered with either 197 or 245hp. All models will be rear-wheel drive, but our test of the 245hp petrol was limited to the Europe-only all-wheel drive car. Don't hold your breath on any more powerful engines, either - the Stinger-sourced 3.3 V6 has been ruled out, and with Genesis going all electric by 2025 the case for putting a V6 diesel in a compact estate looks weak.
The lack of wider choice is a shame, really, as the powertrains on offer aren't really up to snuff. Weighed down by the four-wheel drive (with a kerbweight 'from' 1,787kg), the 245hp/260lb ft just hasn't got the muscle for convincing progress, straining through its rev range without much enthusiasm. The in-house eight-speed auto doesn't help, either, being overly keen to kickdown and too eager to hold a gear. Moreover, making the engine labour (with a gruff soundtrack alongside) doesn't do much for the pretence of luxury. The petrol is not especially efficient either. So it's probably no surprise that the lower-powered version wasn't available.
The diesel feels better suited to the task, even if it too is no paragon of efficiency or refinement. With more torque the gearbox feels more comfortable leaving the engine in gear, and because you tend to drive on middling revs the slow shifts don't matter so much. A more relaxed powertrain lends itself better to what is, ultimately, quite a relaxed car. Be even more relaxing with some extra performance, though...
The G70 Shooting Brake handles itself nicely enough; it can be clicked through to Sport and Sport + but, perhaps unsurprisingly, Comfort appears to best suit what the car is trying to achieve. It doesn't want to be hurried, really, but also doesn't collapse when put to task. Oddly, the steering of the four-wheel drive car was even more detached than the rear-wheel drive model, so perhaps that model is no great loss for the UK. Dynamically, the G70 does all that will really be required of it, without ever really impressing.
Other little niggles frustrate. The active safety features buzz, beep and bong at the merest hint of danger that most equivalent systems would (rightly) ignore. The boot itself has quite a narrow aperture, which is probably attributable to all similar cars - but another warning buzzer opening and closing, plus a release button on the wiper, are irritating quirks unique to the Genesis. There also seemed to be a fair amount of wind noise in what is otherwise a quiet cabin, though again that might be more of an issue with launch location (the coast near Lisbon) than the car itself.
Nevertheless, as it stands, the G70 Shooting Brake is not especially convincing. History has shown that new entrants to the premium sector must overachieve just to be noticed; many are reluctant to leave the established incumbents even when the product isn't brilliant, leave alone when all are on form. The fact that the Genesis is hobbled with sub-par powertrains looks set to hold it back, however much good work the exterior design may do in convincing potential buyers. Knowing where to pitch it is difficult given the Shooting Brake label; a top-of-the range petrol model is in the same price bracket as a Cupra Leon wagon, which would be our choice for something fast, stylish and kind of estate shaped. But that probably isn't what Genesis is aiming at.
If the Shooting Brake and Genesis way of marketing and selling cars appeals, try out the diesel and look at the Sport Line pack because the styling, by a margin, is the car's most compelling feature. As it'll need to be; the start price for the oil burner is £37,600, against £37,545 for a CLA 220d AMG Line with similar power. The Sport Line is £41,430 - the top of the range Mercedes is £40,545. As a concept, the first Genesis for a Europe was an intriguing one, but the execution leaves too much to the imagination.
SPECIFICATION | 2021 GENESIS G70 SHOOTING BRAKE 2.0T
Engine: 1,998cc, four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (Euro test car AWD)
Power (hp): 245@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 260@1,450-3,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.4 seconds (with launch control)
Top speed: 146mph
Weight: 1,717kg (minimum mass in running order)
MPG: 31.5-33.1 (WLTP combined)
Price: £40,700 (Luxury Line; Sport Line for £41,880)
SPECIFICATION | 2021 GENESIS G70 SHOOTING BRAKE 2.2D
Engine: 2,199cc, four-cyl diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@3,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 324@1,750-2,750rpm
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Top speed: 140mph
Weight: 1,810kg (minimum mass in running order)
MPG: 40.7-41.8 (WLTP combined)
Price: £35,900 (Premium Line; Luxury Line for £38,550 and Sport Line for £39,730)
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