Genesis begets the G70, a new smaller sporty sedan

It's hard for any carmakers to claim they are really going their own way, but Genesis does offer a lot for the price.

The 2020 Genesis G70.
The 2020 Genesis G70. –Genesis/TNS

2020 Genesis G70: A new small luxury sedan. Will it rival its big brothers for value?

Price: $48,995 as tested. The Elite Package added low-beam assist, sunroof, and more for $1,750; the Prestige Package added around-view monitor, head-up display, and more for $2,500.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the “fun-to-drive nature, classy interior styling, fantastic value proposition,” but not the “lackluster manual transmission, cheap-o infotainment software, cramped rear seat.”

Marketer’s pitch: “You can’t change the world while imitating it.” (Hey, that’s pretty deep.)

Reality: It’s hard for any carmakers to claim they are really going their own way, but Genesis does offer a lot for the price.

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What’s new: The G70 is new for 2019 and the third model released from the luxury offshoot of Hyundai. (It joins Toyota’s Lexus, Honda’s Acura, and Nissan’s Infiniti as an Asian luxury brand.) The G70 is the smallest of the three models from Genesis and the last sedan to be offered, according to Genesis press materials. Interesting.

I drove a 2019 model, but it’s fairly unchanged for 2020.

Up to speed: The Genesis G70 packs plenty of punch, for people who like a sporty drive. The 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 creates 365 horsepower, and the small sedan absolutely rockets to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

The G70 also packs plenty of punch for passing.

Note that the G70 also comes with a 2.0-liter turbo four, which Car and Driver observed is decidedly less enthusiastic.

Shifty: The G70 comes with a rather odd shiftability component. The shift lever on the console offers only PRND, no mention of Sport or Shift mode. The steering wheel paddles allow drivers to shift up or down, but I could find no way to keep the vehicle in shift mode.

Ah, you know what? It hardly matters anymore. Even race car drivers keep their cars in automatic mode. Let the 8-speed automatic do the work for you, too.

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That 2.0 turbo does come with an available manual transmission, though — and it costs a bunch less.

All-wheel drive is available as well.

On the road: The G70 does offer several driving modes. Sport mode is a whole bunch of fun, but the G70 handles nicely in any of the five modes.

Country roads are really fun, although highway driving is still quite nice. Sport mode does heavily accentuate the bumps, though, so be cautious on railroad crossings and heavy road seams.

Steering assist: Much is being made of self-driving components on today’s cars, but if the Kia-Hyundai-Genesis system were more pervasive, it would all be sent back to the drawing board. The system was turned on when I got the vehicle, and at first I was disappointed in the G70’s wonky handling and touchy acceleration.

But then I remembered this trouble I’d had with other models from the Koreans, and sure enough — disengaging the steering assist made everything feel so much better.

Driver’s Seat: Genesis models tend to be a welcoming environment, and I found the G70 to be a tighter version of the nice luxury sedans I’d driven before. Controls are easy to operate, and look and feel nice.

Friends and stuff: Or rather, stuff in some friends. Rear-seat passengers will be scowling at you in the rearview mirror. Legroom, headroom, and foot room are all tight, and the center seat is only for toddlers. The seat itself is comfortable, though, so smaller folks won’t complain — especially with the heated seats on cold days.

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Cargo space is a pitiful 10.5 cubic feet, which is twice the space of a Miata. The average trunk is around 15 cubic feet, so it’s pretty small.

Play some tunes: The stereo system follows the usual Hyundai template, which really works very well. Knobs control volume and tuning, and a horizontal row of buttons controls source and other changes.

Drivers must go to the touchscreen for most of the other functions, and it operates fairly well on all counts. It can be a hair insensitive to Mr. Driver’s Seat’s fingertips, especially in cold temperatures.

Sound is Kia average, which is not stellar but very good.

Night shift: The headlights do sit a hair low, but I found myself adjusting to them after a couple of days. The interior lights are a nice level of brightness without interfering with the road.

Fuel economy: I averaged about 23 miles per gallon in the usual round of testing, heavy on highways and country roads. Feed the G70 whatever, which is a bonus for the performance level.

Where it’s built: Ulsan, South Korea.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts a 5 out of 5 for reliability.

In the end: If you’re too cool for full-size friends and their luggage, the G70 might be fun for you. Outside of that, though, it does offer a lot for the money.

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The Car Doctor
Am I being a car snob?
November 12, 2020 | 4:25 PM