By Nauman Farouq
Toronto’s Pearson Airport is Canada’s busiest airport; in fact, it is the second busiest international airport in the world!
The runways of this facility sees an aircraft land every 60 seconds, and its usual traffic includes the gargantuan Airbus A380, and the Antonov An-225. On the morning of June 15th however, one of its runways (33L to be exact) was playing host to a different kind of machinery – one that might not be capable of long range flight, but is no less advanced or thrilling!
The team at Genesis Canada pulled off an incredible feat, and utilized their partnership with Pearson Airport, to put together an event that had never been done before – anywhere!
They got permission to bring cars onto an active runway, and let auto journalists and customers (current and perspective) go for a speed run and test out the cars handling.
While cars and runway events are becoming more and more popular these days, but those are either run at smaller airports or ex-military facilities, not a busy international airport. So, what Genesis achieved is a world’s first!
The day started very early, arrived at a back entrance to Pearson Airport by 6:30 am. After a quick security clearance, we went into a warehouse that was converted to host an event.
After a 35 minute presentation on Genesis the brand, and its plans for the near future, plus its partnership with Pearson Airport, we stepped onto a bus, which took us to our testing spot. This bus ride gave us our first taste of being on the same level as passenger aircrafts, and seeing them take off and land in close proximity to you gives you new appreciation for these flying machines.
Upon arriving at runway 33L, all the assembled media made their way to the cars. Once paired up with a professional driver, we were quickly out on the tarmac.
I was paired up with Mark Wilkins, a very accomplished Canadian racing driver, who has competed in many racing series, such as the Pirelli World Challenge, American Le Mans Series, and currently competes in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with a Hyundai Veloster N TCR.
Wilkins first took me out for a few sighting laps, showing me the course that was set out for us to try. The course contained two autocross tracks, a short and a long, to test out the cars handling, but the bit most people were excited for was to go flat out on the runway!
For the task, Genesis had brought along the 2020 G70 model, equipped with the twin-turbo 3.3L V6, which produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. All that power is routed to all-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. This model can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in about 4.8 seconds, and if you have the space, it’ll top out at over 250 km/h.
Runway 33L certainly has the space, as end to end, its about 2.5 km long. However, for our test, we were just allowed to use 0.5 km for a speed run – that certainly isn’t long enough to reach top speed, but on one run, making maximum use of the space allotted, I managed to get the G70 up to 180 km/h – that felt impressive!
It had been almost a year since I last drove a G70, and the things that impressed me about it before, is what impressed me about it still – and chief among is how it feels! This car feels planted to the tarmac, it communicates with you well, it does a lot to mask over your imperfections (carried too much speed through a corner? It’ll do its best to bring you back in line), and to cap it all off – it even sounds good. The G70 puts a smile on my face, every single time I have driven one, it managed to do that. What it feels like to me, is that it was developed by a team of real car guys and girls, folks who enjoy driving, and they’ve created a thing that any driver would enjoy – I just love this thing.
The car I drove was a 2020 unit, among the first in the country. There are miniscule changes between the 2019 and 2020 model, and we’ll explore those at a later date. Plus, the changes are not to the drivetrain, so they all drive the same.
While I wish the run up the runway was longer – a lot longer – it was still a thrill to get to experience driving a car on a proper runway, at a fully functional, and very busy international airport.
The team at Genesis Canada pulled off an event that would seem impossible to host, and it went off without a hitch, and even the weather cooperated. Hope this becomes an annual event, and maybe next time, we’ll get to use more of the runway.