Yet again, Genesis gives brand-unconscious luxury shoppers the last laugh. It did as much with the G80 and G90, two larger sedans introduced two model years back (or reintroduced under the Genesis name). The G70 packs the winning formula in a smaller package — it’s about a foot shorter and around $7,000 less expensive than the G80 — with compelling results.
On sale now, the sedan offers two turbocharged engines: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 3.3-liter V-6, with standard rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. An eight-speed automatic transmission drives both, but you can also get the 2.0-liter with a six-speed manual. I drove all the engines, transmissions and drivelines over three days on Maine’s winding roads and at a private racetrack in New Hampshire as part of Genesis’ national media introduction (per our ethics policy, Cars.com pays its own airfare and lodging to such automaker-funded events). Back at Cars.com’s Chicago headquarters, we also drove two G70 sedans, one with each engine.
How It Drives
The track portion of my first drive involved an autocross course that Genesis set up at New Hampshire’s Club Motorsports racetrack, followed by laps on the track’s main 2.5-mile, 15-corner loop, which boasts some 250 feet of elevation change. I piloted various editions around the autocross, then a 3.3-liter G70 AWD on the big track. After all that, I can report the G70 is fun.
It’s not buckets of fun like some of its best-handling competitors; the suspension allows a bit too much body roll, even with sport-tuned hardware on the 3.3-liter car, and the steering ratio in all variants feels too slow for rapid direction changes. Otherwise, though, it’s balanced. The nose exhibits mild understeer as you turn the wheel hard on the autocross or bomb into high-speed corners on the full track, but the chassis is reasonably neutral otherwise. With an optional limited-slip differential, steady gas application can slide the tail around a bit, and it doesn’t move as erratically as the rear-drive Kia Stinger, which shares a lot of its hardware. (Kia is a Hyundai subsidiary, but the Stinger is about 100 pounds heavier and 6 inches longer than its corporate sibling.) The G70 is supremely planted on 100-mph straightaways and unfazed by rapid elevation changes. The optional Brembo brakes on our test cars handled 10 laps of hammering with little fade.
Back on public roads, ride quality shows a lot of polish with the base suspension, which is firm but comfortable. The sport-tuned setup is noticeably firmer; some drivers may find it too choppy, but it’s controlled. Adaptive shock absorbers are optional with the latter suspension, but I didn’t spend substantial time in a car with them. Fellow Cars.com editors praised the all-wheel-drive system in a G70 we tested later. The system has a clear rear bias; it resists understeer to easily set the tail as you accelerate out of a turn.
Both engines offered in the G70 are strong. The turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with 252 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque, makes progressive, linear power from 2,500 rpm on up. Even with two adults aboard, it tackled uphill climbs and passing situations with aplomb, though several Cars.com editors objected to a bit of turbo lag when accelerating from a stop. Still, you really don’t need more power than this, especially given the G70’s responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. As transmissions with umpteen gears proliferate, there are more bad ones than good right now. Fortunately, Genesis’ unit is excellent. Upshifts are smooth and often unnoticeable, and downshifts come immediately — even in the drivetrain’s Eco- and Comfort-oriented driving modes, which in many vehicles dial up the laziness. A Sport mode holds lower gears longer, but it hardly feels necessary; the G70 doles out downshifts like candy at a parade.
It’s more of a stampede if you get the 3.3-liter turbo (365 hp, 376 pounds-feet), which combines the excellent transmission with thunderous, lag-free power. I added steady speed charging up two-lane hills at 1,800 rpm with a passenger and multimedia gear onboard. Pedal to the metal, the 3.3-liter G70 will clear 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, Genesis says. That makes it the brand’s quickest car yet, and it competes with times for the rival Audi S4, BMW 340i and Mercedes-AMG C43.
Perhaps due to the responsive transmission, EPA-estimated gas mileage trails leading competitors’ numbers by some 10 to 20 percent, depending on configuration. If that’s the case, it’s a trade I’ll take, especially because both G70 engines merely recommend premium fuel to achieve full power. Genesis officials said both motors can run on the cheap stuff all day if you want — a nice provision many competitors don’t provide.
Many competitors also don’t offer manual transmissions, and Genesis’ decision to have one is worth celebrating. Alas, the execution is not: Available on the 2.0-liter G70 in conjunction with an upgraded exhaust system that adds another 3 hp, the manual has imprecise throws, widely spaced gates and a bulky, low-rent shifter. Good accelerator response helps with rev-matching, but that’s about its only strength. What’s more, manual cars get a different parking brake that requires a rejiggered center console with less storage space.