The crowd is some 15,000 deep at Seoul’s Olympic Park as CL prances across the stage in torn jeans and high-tops. “I got myself a 40,” she raps. “I got myself a shorty, and I’m about to go get lifted…” The K-Pop star kicks, twerks, and bounces through her hit song “Lifted” as the crowd waves their hands in the air and raps along to the chorus. She didn’t write these lyrics — Method Man did some 25 years ago — but if anyone here knows this, they don’t seem to care. Seoul is CL’s turf and, judging by the 25 million views on the “Lifted” YouTube video, plenty of people like what she’s doing.
Genesis has staged this mega-concert on its home turf in Korea to prove a point: anything you can do, we can do better. Or at least make weirdly, wonderfully different. This was the idea when Genesis launched two years ago with big luxury sedans aimed squarely at Mercedes Benz–buying North Americans looking for a bargain. Its latest model, the G70 compact sport sedan, takes Genesis into the core of the luxury market. Designed to go up against BMW’s 3 Series, Audi’s A4, and Mercedes’ C-Class, it’s an audacious undertaking. But if Korean gangster rap can be a thing, why not a Korean luxury sport sedan, too?
The following morning, in the densely forested countryside outside of Seoul, the G70 proves itself a worthy adversary for winding mountain roads. With its taut chassis and precise steering, it emphasizes the sporty bit of the sport sedan formula. The top-of-the-range model is powered by a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 good for 365 horsepower and equipped with all-wheel drive.
While the rev-happy engine provides ample performance, like most of its sport sedan brethren, this car will spend its life cruising highways and sitting in traffic, and niceties like quilted leather seats and a crisp touchscreen make it a comfortable place to do so. While it lacks some of the poise and assuredness of those stalwart German machines, the G70 otherwise offers a solid argument in its own favour — a performance-oriented junior executive ride at what will likely be a very competitive price.
Before the Olympic Park concert, we’d toured Hyundai’s R&D centre, a sprawling facility of blank, towering buildings and high fences. As we entered the gates, men with earpieces boarded the bus, placing stickers over our phone cameras and instructing us to draw the curtains over our windows. Somewhere nearby, no doubt, was a hangar full of Audis, Benzes, and BMWs, each of which had been taken apart, put back together and examined in excruciating detail. Like CL’s performance, the G70 is a carefully studied, painstakingly executed take on an existing form. Unlike Korean gangster rap, however, we expect this one to catch on over here.