The ultimate compact luxury crossovers go head-to-head
Sami Haj-Assaad: Sure, a wagon or sedan can make it through most road conditions, but every once in a while, there are unforgiving cold and snowy days when an extra bit of ground clearance, a punchy powertrain and a plush cabin can make all the difference. Thank goodness for crossovers.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the 2022 Genesis GV70, which was applauded over the past year for punching upwards and delivering luxury and performance on the level of other established players in the industry. Everyone loves cheering for an underdog and newcomer, but Genesis has designed an eye-catching vehicle with plenty of goodies to get excited about, including an available twin-turbo V6 engine. The Korean automaker even priced it competitively at $49,500 for the base 2.5L turbo-four model, $69,000 for the V6 model, and $76,000 for our loaded tester.
The BMW X3 has been a popular choice for shoppers for years, mainly because it has managed that combination of capability and practicality well over the past few years. The latest update to the luxury crossover has it feeling fresh and stylish inside, a trait that can extend to the driver during those miserable winter days. Then again, they ask a lot for the chance to own one: $52,990 for a base xDrive30i, $66,990 for a six-cylinder model M40i, and $84,335 for our well-equipped example.
So naturally, it makes sense to compare these two and see how they fare in some peak winter weather. While they seem close on paper, some things don’t translate as well to the real world. For instance, the powertrains. Under the hood of the GV70 is a twin-turbo V6 with 375 hp and 391 lb-ft. Those are impressive numbers, but the power delivery and experience seem tame and mundane compared to the motor at work in the BMW. This X3 M40i model features a turbocharged inline-six with 382 hp and 369 lb-ft, which felt responsive and enthusiastic, almost to the point of twitchy in its various sport modes. While its awesome on dry pavement, the X3 managed to still feel fun on the cold and wet roads too. The Genesis powertrain isn’t bad, it’s just that BMW exceeded our expectations here.
Jonathan Yarkony: The BMW’s turbocharged straight-six was certainly my favourite as well with its excellent bite and a bit of growl to its soundtrack, but I wasn’t as down on the GV70’s twin-turbo. I felt that it was simply tuned for a different character, and this is a word that might come up repeatedly when we discuss the Genesis: Smooth. The power delivery was never stick-you-back-in-your-seat sharp, but it got up to speed with a silky purr, pairing smoothly with its eight-speed transmission to deliver performance that still exceeds everyday needs and get you around town in a hurry.
TAKE A DEEPER DIVE INTO GV70 VS X3 M40i SPECS
Likewise, the Genesis GV70’s suspension and handling was clearly designed for polished refinement and not ultimate cornering grip, and that’s the right formula for this segment in my books. The GV70 smoothly irons out rough patches of road, feels completely buttoned-down (and quiet!) when cruising on the highway, and gently leans but holds steady when pushing it harder in corners. It doesn’t have the same steering responsiveness or eagerness as the BMW, which suffers the tradeoff of a harsh ride (and downright jittery over snow-packed roads), but we’re talking compact crossovers, not sport sedans, and it sacrifices too much comfort for the average luxury buyer.
SHA: The coddling approach from BMW emerges when we check out the cabin. Our tester is adorned with bright red upholstery, and the seats are really supportive, though a bit firm. The Genesis seats can feel a bit too plush at times, though a massage function helps beat any numbness. But as we know, any car can impress with nice upholstery and these are luxury cars we’re talking about, so the real story is in the details. Thankfully, both vehicles feature stitched accents along with carbon-fibre trim pieces to let you know this all goes above and beyond the call of mere transportation. And in the BMW, you’re seeing a ton of M badges everywhere.
But all the technology helps seal the deal. What some may see as funny gimmicks, others will see as a wow factor. The BMW is available with a huge digital gauge cluster, a bright, colourful head-up display, and a large 12.3-inch iDrive infotainment system. That user interface is familiar now, and easy to get used to, but the Genesis manages to one-up the German competition in a number of ways. It has a larger, 14.5-inch infotainment system, and its digital dash features a 3D effect that has certain information popping out at you. Cool, if a little unnecessary.
However, beyond being tech-filled and high end, these vehicles need to be spacious enough for families and road trips. In our testing we found the BMW to slightly edge out the Genesis in terms of passenger space, which is especially noticeable in the rear thrones, where headroom is limited for the GV70. The trunks are close, with the X3 listed at 550 litres on Canadian sites, but 812 L (28.7 cu. ft.) on U.S. sources, and the trunk does appear pretty close in size to the 819 litres in the GV70, but pay attention to the lift-over height, which feels much higher in the Genesis. Make sure to lift with your legs! When you fold down the rear seats, the X3 offers 1,600 L as per Canadian specs or 1,775 L (62.7 cu. ft.) in US data sources compared to 1,611 L max cargo space in the GV70. It also helps that the BMW features 40/20/40 split folding rear seats, compared to the 60/40 split in the Genesis.
JY: I agree with you that both had very practical and refined interiors, and I loved the pass through for my hockey sticks, but for me it was not just the practicality that had me favouring the BMW interior, it was also the ergonomics. The BMW seats took longer to adjust but arrived at a more tailored fit for me. As you mention, iDrive has been tweaked over the generations to provide seamless infotainment system controls (the knob controller with touchpad, vivid graphics on the touchscreen, and the numbered shortcuts for favourites), while the GV70 matched the X3 with a console knob and touchscreen infotainment and an intuitive interface, but stumbles with a console transmission shifter dial that is identical in size and shape just behind the knob controller. I can’t tell you how many times I started navigating the screens when I was looking to put the GV70 in reverse.
When it comes to the driving tech, it’s hard to find fault with either of these vehicles, and the latest tech like adaptive cruise with active stop/go and lane changes worked flawlessly in both cars, and other more common driver assistance features like the 360-degree parking cameras and sensors made parking so easy that I never felt any need for self-parking functions. You could give a slight edge to the BMW for its better outward visibility, but once you take a peek at the price sheet, you might change your mind.
The 2022 Genesis GV70 3.5T Sport Plus’s $76,000 Canadian pricing includes all of the nifty tech above and some more gimmicks we haven’t even mentioned (fingerprint driver settings), and there is no additional freight & PDI charge. The BMW X3 is neck and neck with the GV70 when you add the $7,900 Enhanced Premium Package (sunshades, Parking Assistant Plus w/Surround View, head-up display, Harman/Kardon surround sound, panoramic sunroof, and more) and the $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance Package to the M40i’s $66,990 starting price. But BMW tacks on a $2,480 destination charge and a host of interior and exterior aesthetic upgrades added on another $7K — $3,000 for the upgraded red leather, almost a thousand for the Brooklyn Grey Metallic, $1,200 for Digital Cockpit professional, $850 for carbon-fibre interior trim — taking it to a total of $86,815. I confess, I do love the flat grey and blacked-out grille and trim and eye-catching red interior, but I just can’t look at these two side by side and drive them back to back and say that the X3 is $10,000 better than the GV70.
SHA: Whether you’re financing, leasing or buying in cash, ten grand is a lot of money. While the standard X3 M40i experience is competitive you get the sense that it really appeals to the die-hard performance and BMW fans. The upgrades, along with the stiff ride, push it well beyond a reasonable recommendation. It feels great to pay less for a fully loaded experience, and the Genesis delivers on that idea. The GV70 is also attractive, has a smooth and comfortable ride, packs tons of unique technology and a practical cabin. It’s easily the sensible choice of the two.