First Impressions: 2019 Genesis G70

2019 Genesis G70

Hyundai’s luxury brand delivers a world class sport sedan.

By Nick Kurczewski, Contributor, Car-ED.com | July 2018


What is this vehicle?

The 2019 Genesis G70 sport sedan is the first product from Hyundai’s new luxury division engineered specifically as a stand-alone model, a car developed from the start to take on a wide range of luxury rivals, including the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Lexus ES350 and Acura TLX. Entering the luxury field can be a daunting task, especially when you consider how much weight is given to badge prestige and name recognition. Say the name “Genesis” to most car shoppers and, let’s admit it, you’re going to be hard pressed to find someone who immediately thinks of a Korean luxury brand, not a 1980’s pop rock group.

While the Genesis name has graced several high-end Hyundai sedans over the past few years, the G70 is the first model introduced now that Genesis is its officially a spin-off brand. Will Hyundai be able to convince luxury car buyers to consider giving its upstart sport sedan a chance? Based only on the G70’s spec sheet – which is chock full of available performance goodies, like a twin-turbo V6 and 6-speed manual transmission – the initial impression is that the established luxury players could be in for a surprisingly strong new challenger.

Who is this vehicle for?

The Genesis G70 is a luxury sedan for car shoppers who, first and foremost, aren’t beholden to any one particular make or model. This is a car and, in a sense, an entire brand, that simply won’t hold much (if any) appeal for people impressed by labels. That could work to the benefit of the Genesis G70, so long as the car doesn’t wilt when compared to much more well-known rivals.

We hate to use the term “bargain” when talking about a luxury car that’s priced from $35,00o to $50,000 (Genesis hadn’t announced exact pricing at the time of our test drive), but there is an element of getting more for your money with the G70. The list of standard equipment is high, while even the range-topping models powered by a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 should cost significantly less than many other luxury sport sedans with similar firepower under the hood.

Genesis has even made a serious play for both diehard car enthusiasts, as well as people living in Snow Belt states. The first group will be pleased to know an actual honest-to-goodness manual transmission is available in a sport-tuned model, not simply the bare bones base car. Meanwhile, buyers who want more grip when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate will like that all-wheel drive is available across nearly the entire G70 lineup. In fact, the only model that’s strictly rear-wheel-drive-only happens to be the one fitted with the 6-speed manual.

Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?

Choice is a good thing, particularly when you’re handing over hard-earned money for a luxury car. The Genesis G70 is far more than a reason to add another vehicle to your cross-shopping list of sport sedans, however. While it’s no secret that SUVs are the red-hot sales item in any car company’s lineup – and something we’ll see added to the Genesis range over the next couple of years – it’s good to see an automaker taking a fresh step into a market that doesn’t center on ride height, cup-holder count, and available second row captain’s chairs. In other words, many people still prefer a well-made and entertaining sedan (and you should too).

The fact that the G70 can be configured so many different ways only helps sweeten the pot. If fuel economy is more important than straight-line speed, a turbocharged four-cylinder is there to serve as the base engine. If you want both extra power and an even more sure-footed means of traveling, combine the optional V6 with optional all-wheel drive. We won’t use the tired cliche that the G70 offers something for everyone, though it certainly offers enough to command serious attention in the luxury car market.

Interesting facts about this vehicle!

  • The Genesis G70 is based on the same vehicle platform found in the Kia Stinger sport sedan. The Stinger is the larger car, by about 6 inches in total, and rides on a longer wheelbase than the G70.
  • There are two choices of engine: a 252-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, or optional 365-horsepower twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6. Either engine can be paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
  • The Genesis can also be fitted with all-wheel drive, no matter which of the two engines is chosen.
  • Genesis estimates the G70 fitted with the twin-turbo V6 and AWD accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in only 4.5 seconds.
  • All G70s fitted with the 8-speed automatic come standard with a launch control function. The driver engages this feature by pressing, then holding down, the button for the car’s traction control system (located on the center console). With the system primed and ready, the driver applies pressure simultaneously to the brake pedal and gas pedal. Once the revs build, all you need for maximum acceleration is to release the brake pedal with your left foot, then hold on tight!
  • The G70 comes standard with 3-years/36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance and service. This includes Genesis Service Valet, which allows you to have your car picked up (and a loaner delivered) to the address of your choosing. This is a clever move, since dedicated Genesis dealerships remain at unicorn-levels of rarity. Genesis buyers might not like paying a luxury car price for a mainstream service experience at a local Hyundai shop, so this helps skirt that issue until the brand becomes more established with its own brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Fans of manual gearboxes will flock to the Sport trim offered with the turbo four-cylinder. Available only with rear-wheel drive, the 2.0T Sport manual also comes with a limited-slip differential and upgraded braking system. It also gets a slight bump in power, from 252 to 255 horsepower.

What Impressed Us / Top Likes:

1 – We spent almost all of our driving time behind the wheel of the range-topping G70, fitted with the 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6. What’s immediately apparent is that Genesis tuned this engine to have some character, there is a suavely subdued growl even at city speeds. This gives the G70 a nice dose of attitude, and immediately reminded us of the alluring Alfa Romeo Giulia.

2 – The exhaust note isn’t the only thing that reminded us of the Alfa. The G70 has very linear steering that doesn’t feel artificially boosted, or too weighed down by computer software that equates ultra-heavy steering to being “sporty.” The best part is that you don’t need to press a special drive mode buttons to unleash the fun-to-drive factor, it’s there right from the get-go. Acceleration is strong and grip levels are high, especially when the car is fitted with optional Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires. We sampled the V6-powered G70 in both rear- and all-wheel drive format on the fast and sweeping Club Motorsports racetrack in Tamworth, New Hampshire. During a typical first-drive event, these track moments can sometimes feel like a silly sideshow and needless diversion. Do you really care about how the car apexes a corner at 100+mph, or whether is has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? With the G70, we can assure you the track time showed just how poised and polished the G70 truly is. With all four tires howling, the G70 was easy to slide around corners and quick to power onward to the next series of twists and turns. Basically, this car is seriously fun! Oh yes, the G70 also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. So there you go.

3 – The cabin doesn’t revolutionize the car world, but it’s a comfortable place to be. Despite leaning towards to sportier side of the luxury sedan spectrum, the G70 offers a balanced ride that never felt brittle or bouncy over ruts and bumps in the road. The infotainment system takes only a few minutes to master, while control knobs lower on the dashboard are there to handle temperature controls and fan speed. Quilted leather and contrasting stitching add a further touch of class to the interior of the G70.

Items to Make Better (Least Favorite Things):

1 – If you need lots of rear legroom, the G70 is going to fall short (no pun intended) of expectations. The larger and longer Kia Stinger offers better space in the rear, not to mention extra cubic inches for storage in the trunk. We applaud the fact that Genesis kept the proportions of the G70 nice and taut – this really is a good-looking car from all angles – but the rear seating will be snug for tall adults over anything more than a short trip.

2 – Genesis is simply going to have to try harder to get noticed. While we came away impressed with the car’s design and driving dynamics, the brand will have to maintain this momentum for another 2-3 years before you don’t need to explain “no, it’s not a super-Hyundai” to skeptical onlookers. We don’t mind having that conversation, but some luxury car buyers might be less enthused about justifying their purchase.

Segment and Competitors:

The 2019 Genesis G70 faces a long list of rivals, some of which emphasize performance and sportiness, while others lean more towards a cossetting ride and quiet cabin:

  • BMW 3 Series
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Audi A4
  • Lexus ES350
  • Cadillac ATS
  • Infiniti Q50
  • Acura TLX
  • Volvo S60

Considering the punch of its turbo engines and the clarity of the steering, we’d peg the G70 against more performance-oriented models, like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Unique Specifications:

Genesis has not released exact pricing details, though expect the standard model with the turbo four-cylinder, automatic transmission, and in rear-wheel drive format to start right around $35,000. Scaling up the G70 trim levels is dependent on which powertrain you’re after. At the top of the range is the 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6, fitted with the eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. This model should cost somewhere around $50,000 and come pretty much fully-loaded. Two special edition models are going to be available during the initial launch of the G70. The first, referred to simply as Design, is finished in Black Forest Green exterior paint (it looks very dark and gray, to our eyes), along with a cream leather interior with subdued dark green highlights. The second is labeled Dynamic, and comes finished in bright-red paint with a black leather interior, this time with red highlights and contrasting stitching. Both come equipped with the V6 engine, though the Dynamic model is fitted with unique suspension tuning, extra engine cooling, summer tires, along with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.

Pricing and Availability:

The base price of the G70 should start around $35,000, putting it right on par with all its key sport sedan competitors. Upmarket models fitted with all-wheel drive and optional V6 will creep upward toward $50,000. First deliveries of the G70 are expected to begin late this summer.