GRR

Genesis’ new Ring Taxi is worth the price and for a good cause

22nd June 2024
Ben Miles

Ring taxis are all the rage. Why try to extract the maximum from your own car around a 20km circuit – one which you’ve only ever driven on a video game and that even Jacky Ickx thinks is impossible to learn, when you could have someone who has driven around it thousands of times do it instead? Enter the new Genesis G70 Ring Taxi.

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Yes, a Genesis G70 does indeed seem like a slightly strange choice for a car to be chucked around in an incredibly unfriendly manner around the Nordschleife, but this isn’t your standard Korean saloon. Well, not quite. The G70s that are to take passengers around the full Nordschleife at laughable speeds have been fiddled with. For one thing, say goodbye to the slightly disappointing 2.0-litre turbo petrol forced on us Europeans. The Ring Taxi gets the 3.3-litre V6 that the rest of the world considers a normal option. 

More has changed underneath, but nothing otherworldly. The G70 has bigger tyres – Michelin Pilot Sport 4Ss, 235 front, 260 rear. It also has KW coil-overs with passive dampers, and is lowered 25mm on each axle. The transmission heat shields are upgraded (these cars get warm) and the software on the gearbox nerfed to remove its automated upshift near the limit and downshift at kickdown. 

That’ll make a difference, but it’s still an executive saloon. Not really a car for such surrounds then? Well, Genesis argues the opposite. Since the company came to Europe, and as part of Hyundai’s major base at the ‘Ring, each Genesis car launched has done 10,000km around here. And drivers are “always at 95 per cent of the maximum” when testing – according to Tyrone Johnson, MD of Hyundai Motor Europe Tech Centre or HMETC to friends. 

So, rather than being new to the situation, all Genesis cars should be primed for it, honed to cope with everything the most challenging race track in the world can throw at them. Of course, that is all hyperbole. I don’t think the Genesis G70 is a ‘Ring sharpened performance monster, but underneath there must be a grain of truth to it. Right?

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Only one way to find out then I guess. Jump in the passenger seat and experience it. But before we do, a few more details. The Ring Taxi programme launches this summer and is available on weekends and public holidays. It’s no shock to hear that the maximum number of guests in a party at any one time is three (unless someone really fancies a stay in the boot). But you shouldn’t ever find yourself experiencing your taxi ride with a group of strangers. Prices start at €120 for one passenger, rising to €160 for two and €180 for three, so there’s savings to be made going with a few mates. You can also feel good about yourself afterwards, as all the proceeds from the Ring Taxi will go to a yet-to-be-chosen charity. For a quick comparison, we haven’t seen any private Ring Taxis south of €300.

If what you’re about to read has you reaching to take part, you’ll jump in the most vivid orange car you’ve ever seen (a nod to the Magma line of hot vehicles Genesis has just launched). No need for a helmet or overalls, you’ll just be handed a sick bag (we hardy Goodwood types didn’t need to use ours, but the same cannot be said for the whole automotive journalism cohort at the ‘Ring on our day).

As you leave through the classic tourist lap entrance, the first thing you will notice is that the G70 feels, even from the passenger seat, a lot more urgent and sounds a hell of a lot more interesting than what we get in the UK. Hello V6, we’re pleased to be acquainted. 

Almost immediately we get overtaken by a BMW M2 with a not-standard exhaust. Our driver, a professional whose pedigree will become clear, laughs, taking this as some kind of challenge. Four up in a Korean saloon we make chase against one person in their track-readied coupé. The BMW eventually got away, but it wasn’t until well past Flugplatz and he really had to get a shuffle on.  

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Ignoring just how gleefully our driver is taking the idea of being overtaken by an M2, you immediately have to marvel at both his incredible skill and the way the G70 actually launches itself around the ‘Ring. The suspension has definitely been fiddled with – the road car would roll more than this, and while we do definitely hit the bump stops on a compression or two, it’s not often – but the car ultimately feels the same to a passenger. The Michelins underneath do a sterling job, because the G70 approached Aremberg at speeds that feel like the tyre should roll right off the rim.

In a period of relative calm around Fuchsrohe, we ask the driver what he would change if he could: “The brakes'' is the reassuring reply. I push this fact to the back of my mind as we race toward some of the hardest stops on the track. But, the biggest feeling here is calm. Something of Stirling Moss’ old phrase “movement is tranquillity” comes to mind as we tick off the kilometres. Our driver passes bikes, tuned Golf Rs, and more as we fly through the Karussell and off toward the mighty direction changes around Wipperman and Brunchen. In fact, the biggest feeling you get is, “how do I convince him to do it again?”

As we finally enter the Dottinger Hohe, we thank our magnificent pilot for putting on quite a show. He’s humble, his response to the point that none of us could get close to that was a simple “Oh, but just think of the thousands of laps I have done here”. Comforting, and a reminder that we’ve just spent nine or so minutes watching a master at work.

At the end of the day, there are probably (definitely) faster Ring taxis out there. As we wait for our turn following some Swiss and French journalists, an M5 goes out, as do multiple GT3 RSs all with passengers. But each of those is heavily modified to do this, or based on the ultimate in performance, and we checked the price of a ride in the Porsche and it was near as damn it €450. We’ve just had our brains scrambled by a genius in a slightly upgraded G70, and all in the name of charity for a third of the price. 

Would I do it again? Try and stop me.  

  • Race

  • Modern

  • Genesis

  • G70

  • Nurburgring

  • Ring Taxi

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