Leading the Way
Sales numbers might not prove it (yet), but the G70 is one of the most surprising offerings from Korea since mother company Hyundai expended into the European and American markets decades ago. Earning critical acclaim from a number of US automotive publications, the G70 seems confident in its role to go toe-to-toe with the two biggest and most important names in the sports sedan segment.
Before getting on the road in the 2019 Genesis G70 to enjoy the 3.3 turbo V6, I take my time to soak up the lines, curves and details of the black exterior. A large grille is a thing these days, as Audi, Lexus and recently also BMW do it and the latter in a much more exaggerated manner. Combined with the grooved bonnet, slender headlights and rounded fenders, it creates a potent and harmonious yet slightly generic look , leaving no doubt about the sporting aspirations of this sedan.
The boot lid has a whiff of BMW ‘Bangle Butt’ about it, but it works nicely
That muscular theme continues towards the rear, with voluptuous fenders, a beautifully shaped chrome-surrounded glasshouse that is ‘pinched off’ high up in the rear doors, sharp edged creases from the front fenders towards the rear – just above the door handles – and chrome-edged cooling slats behind the front wheels. The boot lid has a whiff of BMW ‘Bangle Butt’ about it, but it works nicely with the rounded theme and the tail lights that are set far to the sides. A set of 19 inch wheels rounds everything off, making the G70 an attractive package that draws lots of curious looks and thumbs-up from other motorists.
The G70 shares a great deal of structural and mechanical components with the Stinger from sister brand Kia, but addresses a number of that car’s issues which could be considered as shortcomings, especially by fans of sports sedans. With a weight reduction of almost one hundred kilos (about 200 pounds) the Genesis is more nimble, aided by firmer suspension to provide a more compliant ride with less emphasis on comfort. That is not to say the G70 is uncomfortable, you are just more aware that driving was at the top of the priority list of test and development engineer Albert Biermann. He worked for BMW’s M division in the past and was recently succeeded by Ford’s chief RS engineer Tyrone Johnson as Biermann moved up to the position of global head of research and development at Hyundai.
Sliding behind the wheel, the sporty theme continues with quilted black leather on the seats and doors, white stitching and piping, leather on the dashboard and center console and lots of metal and aluminium for the trim and switchgear. The chunky front seats are both comfortable and torso-hugging, but rob the rear passengers of valuable leg room in their otherwise comfortable and nicely trimmed part of the cabin. A perfect driving position is quickly found by fiddling with the buttons on the side of the seat and steering column and I start the V6 with an unassuming whirr before I click the stubby gear selector in Drive.
The adaptive steering is light at low speeds and the 8-speed automatic responds smoothly to provide as much of the 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft the twin-turbocharged V6 has to offer, but never in an intrusive way. All-wheel-drive comes at a premium, but our test car came equipped with drive to the rear wheels only, which is the preferred option unless you live in an area covered in snow for most of the year. Ready to delve deeper into the G70’s potential, I turn the rotary switch on the center console to Sport mode (there are also ECO, Normal and Custom). This firms up the suspension, quickens the throttle response and makes the transmission more eager to shift down and less eager to shift up.
The overall change in character is immediately noticeable and allows you to attack turns at a higher speed and accelerate out of corners faster. The Greater Houston area is not known for its world-class driving roads, but there are possibilities to engage in some above average driving to push the Korean sedan towards its limits. Approaching these limits, the G70 remains predicable and easily controllable with its electronic limited-slip differential, although it should be noted that computer wizardry plays an important role in this sense of security. With all systems turned off it is possible to hoon around – provided you have the skills to keep it on the road – but even though the Genesis does not seem to oppose to some mild abuse once in a while, this is a very bad idea on public roads. So don’t ask how I know…
Hyundai hit the nail on the head with their third and smallest sedan, after the larger G80 and G90 luxury limousine. There is a fundamental problem with their line-up though. The US automotive market – the main playing field for Genesis – shows year-over-year declines for car sales and steadily growing numbers for SUVs, crossovers and particularly compact crossovers. The public is flocking around these spiritless, indefinable transportation pods that look like they can go off-road and support a lifestyle only seen in the commercials promoting these vehicles. Sales of traditional sedans is on the decline as a result of that and that makes it all the more praiseworthy that Genesis put driving pleasure before quick profit. They will come out with a G80 based GV80 for 2020 and a smaller crossover based on the G70 for early 2021, but for now Hyundai’s luxury brand has to make due with three four-door models ranging from not bad at all to one of the best of all.
Driving the G70 3.3T RWD Prestige for a week was refreshing and exciting, but at times also a bit confusing. Many brands tried to compete with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but nobody came this close at their first attempt. Or came this close period. Yes, that includes Alfa Romeo with the Giulia. Concluding my test drive, I had to sit down, reread my notes, rethink and even get back on the road again to make sure I would not come to hasty or unfunded conclusions. There is however, no way around it: the Genesis G70 drives better than the C-Class and is a fair match for the 3 Series. That is a major achievement for a new brand like Genesis, but also a major concern for Munich and Stuttgart, because Genesis is only just getting warmed up.
- Build quality
- Interior design
- Slightly generic exterior design
- Leg room in rear