Premium compact sport sedans might not sell in big numbers, but they surely are a hallmark of legitimacy. For decades manufacturers have been chasing the BMW 3 Series, arguably the gold standard, with varying degrees of success. Say hello to the latest upstart, the Genesis G70. Ah, but this effort is not such much a shot over the bow as a punch to the solar plexus. It’s the real deal.
You could never accuse the South Koreans of sitting on their laurels when it comes to automotive pursuits. Genesis is now a standalone luxury brand (no Hyundai badging, thank you) and its grand design with this all-new G70 is to muscle in on the European Holy Trinity – Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Are the Koreans serious about this? You bet your wienerschnitzel and Bitburger they are. They’ve snagged some major talent from Germany, included among them chassis-guru Albert Biermann from BMW’s performance M division. Chassis tuning is the piece of the puzzle that the Koreans, up until now, just couldn’t crack.
Biermann has his fingerprints all over the G70. Whatever Hyundai is paying him (and you know it’s a lot) is money well spent. The Genesis G70 exhibits poise, compliance, and body control that puts it at the head of the class. It’s decidedly sporting yet equally refined and comfortable, and that is the kind of alchemy that money apparently can buy.
But unlike BMW et al, Genesis does not pick the buyer’s pockets with a litany of “required” packages and options that quickly swell the bottom line. This top-spec G70 3.3T Sport AWD has an all-in price of $57,500 (destination charge included), and for that sum you’re getting a whack of kit, starting with a 3.3L twin twin-turbo V6 that makes a class-leading 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque from 1300 rpm. A brainy eight-speed auto with paddle shifters does the cog-swapping, and power gets to the pavement through 19-inch wheels wearing 225/40R19 (F) and 255/35R19 (R) Michelin Pilot Sport PS4 summer tires.
Other standard goodies here include LED headlights with cornering function, launch control, adaptive damping, mechanical limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, torque vectoring and five drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Smart, Sport and Individual) that tailor throttle response, steering feel, transmission mapping, stability control function, and adaptive damping. Selecting Sport Mode also trigger inflatable side bolsters that offer up a snug embrace from the driver’s seat. Nice.
Creature comforts include heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, heated/ventilated 16-way front seats, and a 15-speaker Lexicon surround sound system to die for. No CD slot though. On the safety front Genesis bestows it all: blind-spot warning, head-up display, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise with stop and go, forward collision mitigation, lane keep warning and lane keep assist.
Of course, premium sport sedans have to be so much more than a list of features, and while this Genesis G70 3.3T Sport AWD can be legitimately classified as an excellent value proposition, there’s never any question of its legitimacy to hang with the big boys.
First off, it’s very quick. To get this kind of output in a BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi, you’d be looking at the semi-hot M Sport, AMG and S variants, respectively. A similarly optioned 362-hp Mercedes-AMG C43 costs about $15,000 more.
The G70’s engine doesn’t quite exhibit the sound or character of its German six-cylinder turbo counterparts – the Mercedes is outright raucous in sport mode, the Audi is more revvy and sonorous, and the BMW’s silky smooth straight-six a work of art. The Genesis transmission isn’t quite as crisp as the eight-speed ZF used by BMW and Audi either, and I would ask for a more natural feeling helm, even though it is quick and accurate. Ah, but we’re picking nits here. Get this sedan on a winding road and it flows and engages with the best.
I did get to drive the G70 on Hyundai’s challenging test track in Korea last year, and its chassis acumen does note fade when really hammering on. Biermann was at the event, and stated with a boyish grin, “I burned a lot of tires getting the chassis where I wanted it.”
Inside, the G70’s cabin impresses with exquisite build, high quality materials and lovely detailing. The seats show a superb blend of comfort and support, here in top-spec quilted Nappa leather. Biermann’s obsession with driving position pays dividends – it’s an intimate cockpit with ideally placed controls. The dash is dominated by an 8-inch touchscreen supporting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and kudos to Genesis for its logical ergonomics and well marked buttons. For once I don’t have to harp on the industry’s obsession with obtuse, distracting and dangerous touchscreen interfaces.
The G70 is a handsome sedan, if not particularly distinctive, here spruced up with dark chrome trim. Its muscular rear haunches are reminiscent of certain BMW sedans, and the snout is dominated by Genesis’ corporate grille and a flurry of hungry air intakes. Lateral LED sweeps within the headlights introduce a new design theme for the brand.
While its exterior dimensions are some of the most generous in the segment, back seat room is tight and the trunk is disappointingly shallow.
No question, the Genesis G70 has the goods to challenge the German establishment, and this comprehensively equipped 3.3 Sport AWD’s all-in price of $57,500 makes for a helluva bargain. Yet perhaps the engineering of this impressively cohesive car was the easy part. Genesis’ biggest hurdle will be convincing brand-obsessed sport sedan and luxury clientele to give it a shot. Those who do will not be disappointed.
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