2019 Genesis G70 Review

Rest assured: there’s at least one automaker out there that’s still firmly committed to placing fun-to-drive luxury sedans at the forefront of its portfolio.

Following the freeing of the full-size G90 and the somewhat smaller G80 from their past Hyundai badges comes the first ground-up effort from Genesis — the entry-level G70.

Seemingly built to fuel the nightmares of German product planners, the 2019 Genesis G70 manages to mount the first legitimate overseas challenge to the BMW et al establishment that has long ruled this particular roost. While the rest of the SUV-addicted market worries about how many strollers you can stuff into the cargo hold, the G70 instead dares you to find out how much adrenaline you can pack into a lap around the race track — and yet, resolutely refuses to punish you during your commute for selecting a car with this level of athleticism.

Sting Like a…

In order to sample the all-new Genesis G70, I traveled to the Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal, Quebec, the haven of both hardscrabble, potholed asphalt and circuitous roads that cascade down the hillsides like the roots of a gnarled, ancient tree. It’s a challenging assignment for any premium car, one that asks it to not only parse the left-right rumble presented by the region’s numerous switchbacks but also stay glued to the pavement without shaking driver and passengers like so many cans of paint.

See Also: Kia Stinger Road Trip: Celebrating our 2018 Car of the Year with a Grand Tour

To this end, the G70 has enlisted the likes of Albert Biermann, formerly of BMW M and now firmly entrenched in the Korean effort to dislodge the roundel from the top of the sports sedan game. The Genesis uses a platform similar to that found underneath the impressive (and less-expensive), Kia Stinger, but makes several key changes: it’s a full six inches shorter than its hatch-wielding cousin, and depending on which trim level is ordered, up to 475 lbs lighter. Interior room is good, if not generous at the rear, but there’s enough trunk space, for a weekend getaway or a big box store run.

Falling in Line, then Stepping Back Out Again

With a wheelbase that’s well within the boundaries established by luminaries like the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and a curb weight to match, on paper, the G70 is the lightest model to wear the Genesis badge to date. Under the hood, however, buyers are able to make a choice between a ballerina’s pirouette and a linebacker’s crush.

Standard with the Genesis G70 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The engine has some roots in what was found in the now-departed Genesis Coupe, but it’s been significantly modernized to meet both modern emissions and power standards, the unit produces as much as 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. For those souls still suffering from restless left leg syndrome, a six-speed manual gearbox is available when ordering the Sport configuration of the turbo car (and for everyone else, an eight-speed automatic steps in to handle the shifting duties).

Next up is the optional heavy-hitter, a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 lifted from the engine bays of both the G80 and the G90 that punches above the weight of everything else in its class save the Infiniti Q50 400 Red Sport. Advertised at 365 horses and 376 lb-ft of twist, but feeling like considerably more than that every time you step down on the go-pedal, the six-cylinder surges to a 0-60-mph time of just 4.5 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds), thanks in part to the launch control feature built in to the same auto transmission available with the four-cylinder.

See Also: Infiniti Q50 Review

In Canada, all versions of the G70 come with all-wheel drive out-of-the-box, with the sole exception of the rear-wheel drive, shift-it-yourself turbo four Sport. In the U.S., all-wheel drive is available as an option.

Lively and Lovely

I started my day behind the wheel of a 2.0T G70 Sport, which meant I had a clutch pedal to play with as counterpoint to the car’s multi-plate limited-slip rear differential, four-piston front/two-piston rear Brembo brakes, and 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport PS4 tires. Although the turbo four features multiple drive modes — ranging from Smart to Eco to Comfort to Sport to Custom — the model lacks the V6 TT Sport’s adaptive suspension system, which meant what I was really dialing in was more steering resistance from the on-rack electric power assist as well as a noticeably more responsive throttle.

Although the roads may have been rough, I didn’t miss the pricier car’s trick dampers one bit while piloting the turbo four, as I was far too focused on enjoying the connected feel of the chassis combined with the harmonious interaction between the six-speed and the turbocharged engine. Much improved over any past iteration of this manual setup I’ve sampled from Hyundai, the engine featured none of the irritating overrun that has become an EPA-mandated staple of small-displacement turbos.

Instead, I had nearly unfettered access to the motor’s generous power band, which proved just as adept at handling real-world driving conditions as it later would rounding the bends at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, the former F1 course nestled in the heart of Laurentian cottage country. I was repeatedly surprised by just how involved I became in hunting down one apex after the other while working the 2.0-liter engine’s turbos to the point of exhaustion, offering a level of engagement that’s much more difficult to replicate with even the best manumatic.

As good as the stick-equipped G70 is, Genesis predicts that the vast majority of sales to take the form of the twin-turbo V6 edition of the car, with a heavy mix of Sport models over and above the more comfort-oriented Dynamic trim. This gets you the same appearance package as the 2.0T Sport married to the larger engine, a dual exhaust system, a more refined interior with quilted leather seats, and of course all-wheel drive.

On both road and track there’s no question that the torque-happy twin-turbo mill is a monster that easily outpaces the nimble four-cylinder without sacrificing much in the way of handling chops. A good portion of the car’s willingness to dance is made possible by its adaptive suspension, but even the AWD gets out of the way enough to reduce any dullness in the steering, while also avoiding understeer on quick corners.

The Goods

Performance is a major part of the 2019 Genesis G70 story, but not the sole chapter in the book of what this sedan has to offer. At its core, the well-tuned G70 remains a luxury car, and in keeping with standard operating Genesis procedure, it provides a whopping dose of gear at a starting price ($42,000 CAD — U.S. pricing not available yet) that comes in underneath most of the competition.

All of the expected items — sunroof, dual automatic climate control, power driver’s seat, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment, genuine imitation leather upholstery — are provided in the base Advanced trim, with the added bonus of the entire raft of active safety equipment also included free of charge. This means you won’t have to pay more for adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic forward braking, or blind spot warning (except for the manual transmission car, which only delivers blind spot monitoring). At the high end, the Nappa leather on the doors and heated and ventilated buckets, standard navigation, cornering LED headlights, and head-up display round out the details of what you get when you spend $57,500 (CAD) on the 3.3T Sport (knock off $5,500 if you’d like much of the same gear with the turbo four).

The Verdict: 2019 Genesis G70 Review

The 2019 Genesis G70 is the brand’s best bet to huddle customers under its slowly expanding umbrella. There’s volume to be had in reasonably-sized, attainable luxury cars that simply can’t be found in the regions of the market where the G80 and G90 ply their trade, no matter how appealing.

Genesis is currently in the business of brand building, which means it can’t rely on things like heritage and an existing customer base to fill its showrooms. Instead, it has to build a car that’s just as good — if not better, in some respects — as those options offered by the premium mainstream. That the G70 manages to fill that role on the first shot is an indication of just how serious Genesis is about becoming a major luxury player.

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