The Road Beat: 2020 Genesis G70 3.3T
By Mitchell Weitzman
I know what you might be thinking, but no, it’s not a Hyundai. Well, it sorta is, but who freaking cares when the result is this damn good. BMW, Audi, and Mercedes, get your binders out and start taking notes. This is a vehicle that may come from the corporate confines of Hyundai/Kia, but this is an absolute exercise in how to retain the artist's vision; when a director gets final cut privilege per say.
Let's start with the real winner here: the consumer. The Genesis G70 tested here had every line-item check-marked and the MSRP just barely breached fifty-grand ($51,245 to be exact). And for that you get an artisan interior that sparks conversation and monstrous performance from the husky power plant. That's 365 horsepower to be exact, though it feels like it could be more.
So, for 50k, you could have a four-banger “entry” German-made sedan, or you can have this incendiary tire melter from Genesis. What's a Genesis again? It's the newly formed flagship brand from South Korean auto giant Hyundai/Kia. While it's confusing because there used be a Hyundai model called the Genesis, they have separated the name into its own luxury brand. And yes, this is real luxury.
Performance is huge thanks to those 365 horsepowers from the 3.3L twin-turbocharged V6 that's delivered in turbine-like fashion. There's power everywhere, and it just seems to go and go and go. 0-60 MPH happens in just 4.5 seconds and you'll see triple digits appear with ease if you’re not careful—ask me how I know. Torque is a similar 376 ft. pounds that's available just above idle, letting the Genesis put big horsepower to the road from low engine speeds whenever you desire. Sounds good in the cabin, too.
Though, be careful what you
desire, as the G70 (at least in RWD form here) is an absolute oversteer weapon.
On one of my favorite sharp and wide corners, a slight prodding of the throttle
in third gear at maybe 20 MPH brought the rear around faster than you can say
twerk. So be careful before you decide to be a hero and turn off all the driver
aides for the first time.
Handling is precisely neutral and is one of the best-balanced new cars I’ve driven. Go ahead, read that sentence again. Look ahead through a corner, point the nose in the direction of your sight, and the front darts for your apex while tenaciously resisting understeer. And when you do push, it's the rear end does most of the talking, courtesy of its limited-slip differential. This makes for an incredibly involving driving experience with diehard rear-wheel drive sensations of the best kind, if maybe not for the faint of heart given its playfulness and desire to oversteer.
This is further exacerbated by a throttle that, in sport mode, is just a bit too sensitive, which can make fine tuning with your right foot more challenging. But that's what makes this cornering experience so enlightening and vibrant: Here is a luxury sedan that doesn't take the safe route. It takes the rules and crumbles them up and then, like a middle-schooler, shoots a spit wad of it back at the German's faces. Respect, Genesis.
As your experience behind the wheel increases, so does your confidence. You learn to feel the communications from that resolute front axle and really lean on it. As you do so, you get this this wonderful pendulum-effect from the rear as it steers you around, right on the edge of adhesion and a Ken Block-style smoke show. It's not a go-faster appliance as much as you have to treat it with reverence, but when you do, you can engage and join it in its utmost irreverent antics. Steering has a heft to it that I particularly enjoy and it builds in resistance as steering is applied. It's quick, too, but manages to relax itself on the motorway cruising.
Brakes have a strong and firm feel in the pedal, a hallmark feature and necessity in a performance car. The bright red Brembos bring the heavy 3,800-pound G70 to a halt from misdeeds with ease. The ride is stellar, too, as over imperfect asphalt, the suspensions shrugs off and shields occupants from impacts. The tradeoff is not completely flat cornering, but the small amount of body roll that is there is what helps make the G70 so lively on the road and more communicative to the driver. This RWD Sport also came with grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires, which compliments this harmonious package so well.
The good news doesn't seem to cease. The interior, for example, is a delight. Okay, so the radio and Nav screen is a bit tiny today and looks a few years out of date, and I dislike that the door panel switches don't light up when you open it up at night and try unlocking the other doors. But, it's easy to overlook these minor bits because the rest is simply a masterpiece. To start, the beautifully quilted Nappa leather seats with red contrast stitching are immensely satisfying. You'll also find an abundance of metal, which adds a further elegant twist. In short, nobody who looked inside was less than wowed. Those same flashy seats are also extremely comfortable as two passengers and myself had little to complain about on a three-hour highway drive. I do think the seats could have just a bit more lateral support, but then I'd be splitting straws. It’s also very well put together inside and more than quiet on the freeway, which allows hush whispers from rear to front occupants. But really, open the door for the first time, and I guarantee you'll be impressed.
The exterior shape is a job well done, too, though I dislike the boomerang vent in the side that is a wannabe copy of the vent on an old BMW 4-series. It's a simple and tidy look that doubles as elegant while also being purposeful. The bad news here is that there's a refreshed version coming this year and that one looks even better and even more tailored. Onlookers all commented on the color, too, being a chalky finish called Siberian Ice. And yes, the comments were all positive—such a great alternative to boring white.
Fuel economy could be better, I must admit. While highway MPG at 71 MPH was exactly 30 MPG in top gear, the average consumption was just 22. Now sure, this is a performance sedan with bombastic performance, but a BMW 340i I drove a couple years back on a long freeway haul achieved a stellar 36. The same can be said for the eight-speed automatic onboard. It's more than decent in practice, but shifts are not quite as snappy nor smooth compared to vehicles with the ZF eight-speed in so many other applications (including BMWs). I also didn't like that you can only truly take manual control of the trans when selecting the entire car into the 'sport' mode. Most automatic gearsticks have a dedicated slot for -/+ manumatic shifting, but this was absent in the Genesis.
Overall, this Genesis G70 is an amazing car for only 50k as equipped for this test. For a sports sedan, it’s hard to recommend anything else when you consider how much you get for your dollars. Toss in the excellent driving dynamics that have been bestowed upon the G70 and the deal is so much sweeter. Normally in a value-play package like this, there must be compromises. But what are the compromises, a smallish nav screen and some unlit door buttons? That's it.
This is not a parts-bin special, but a homogenous creation destined to instill the thrill of driving back into reasonably priced luxury sports sedans, a trait and identity that has been filtered out by so many competitors. Add in Hyundai's and Genesis' proprietary 10-year powertrain warranty and it only adds to the value to buy new. When you realize a loaded up M340i BMW costs well over 60k these days, it makes it easy to buy just with your head. But, give the Genesis a drive and you'd want it with your heart, too.
2021 Genesis G70 3.3T Sport
As-Tested Price: $51,245.
The Road Beat Rating: 4.5/5.
Pros: Performance, driver involvement, stupendous balance.
Cons: An updated one comes soon, telling people it's not a Hyundai.
Verdict: Not just a value package, but a sports sedan to shake the foundation.
Mitchell Weitzman is a resident of El Dorado County and UC Santa Barbara graduate. He’s been around cars his whole life and loves racing, such as Le Mans and Formula 1. Mitchell is also a seasoned driver with experience at Laguna Seca and Circuit of the Americas. He loves being able to tell a story through his words and pictures.