Here’s a story you’ve heard before: “[Upstart manufacturer] creates sports sedan to take on the BMW 3 Series.” It’s a tale as old as the 3 Series itself, with new chapters added every few years as ambitious brands take their turn at rivaling the German standard-setter. With the Genesis G70, 2019 marked the shortest time from brand establishment to Car of the Year win. The Genesis G70 win is especially impressive considering it’s the three-year-old brand’s first effort in the segment. Recently, we spent time in the base-engine G70 2.0T and wondered: Would the G70’s prowess as a driver’s car still shine through? And, crucially, could it hold its position against the 3 Series?
Our G70 2.0T tester’s 2.0-liter turbo-four produces 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, compared to 365 hp and 376 lb-ft from the 3.3T model’s 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6. Acceleration drops accordingly; its 0–60 time of 6.2 seconds is a second and a half behind the six-cylinder version of our Car of the Year champ. It’s also slower than all-wheel-drive Audi A4s we’ve tested; those cars hit 60 in 5.0–5.4 seconds despite having identical displacement and horsepower.
The four-cylinder G70 completed the quarter-mile sprint in 14.7 seconds at 93.9 mph (151.1 km/h), falling behind the Mercedes C 300’s 14.1 seconds at 99.9 mph (160.8 km/h). Supposedly the Genesis has launch control, but road test editor Chris Walton found it didn’t help—enabling it produced “a little chirp from the tires, then the engine bogs a bit. Trying various rpm brake releases produced nearly identical runs.”
Outside of a dragstrip, however, the 2.0T model doesn’t leave the driver wanting for acceleration. Clearly it’s turbocharged; there’s a bit of lag as power arrives a moment after the driver’s input. Keep it on boost, though, and it rushes toward its 6,200-rpm horsepower peak. Genesis attempts to amplify the experience by playing an artificial engine note inside the cabin, but its organic delivery had us wondering what effect it had.
In casual driving, the Genesis-designed eight-speed automatic transmission shifts with just enough feeling to let the driver know something’s happening. Hit the upshift paddle under generous throttle, and it responds with a satisfying kick into the next gear. However, the downshift paddle wasn’t so reactive. In real-world and track testing, multiple taps often wouldn’t engage a lower gear while braking.
Annoyingly, there’s no manual mode—the G70 returns to automatic shifting if you hold a gear too long, or whenever you come to a stop. For permanent manual mode, Genesis notably offers the G70 2.0T with a six-speed stick. The company knew the take rate for the manual would be low, and to date it’s only sold a handful of cars so equipped. Still, the automaker did it to capture the attention of enthusiasts, who would hopefully recognize the newcomer brand keeps their interests in mind.
The 2.0T drivetrain didn’t wow us like the 3.3T did, but the smaller engine cuts 119 pounds (54 kg) of mass over the front axle, yielding an improved 51/49 percent front/rear weight distribution. That seemed to parlay the balance we praised in our Car of the Year writeup. However, in figure-eight handling testing, testing director Kim Reynolds found where the G70 might concede to the 3 Series. Despite the Genesis weighing only 13 pounds (6 g) more, its steering feels heavier and less natural than the BMW’s: “A bit wonky and more artificial, but I don’t want to be too critical—it’s fun,” he wrote.
That weighty steering complements the excellent chassis tuning, an element that’s continuously evident in the G70’s drive. The taut suspension and stiff body communicate what the tires are passing over, but the ride is supple, not harsh or crashy. We might not call it nimble, but it’s always poised. This isn’t a car you toss around, rather one in which you plot a flow down the road—equally enjoyable in highway cruising and backroad exploration. This is where the G70 earns its sport sedan credentials. The overall feeling it provides is one of connection, refinement, and solidity.
Those adjectives describe the interior, too. It looks and feels high quality, with hardly a surface that could be described as cheap. Our car’s lovely black-over-brown interior was a hit among testers and passengers. Quilted leather seats have bolstering that strikes harmony between sport and luxury. The door panel, center console lid, and transmission tunnel are comfortably padded where the driver might rest their extremities. Brightwork on trim, knobs, and buttons isn’t genuine metal but—like everything in the cabin—presents a substantial feel.
Genesis’ decision to forgo a dial or touchpad for infotainment control is appreciated. A fixed 8.0-inch screen centrally mounted on the dashboard responds quickly to touch inputs. Graphics aren’t among today’s best, but integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is fairly seamless. The screen’s positioning may be suboptimal for shorter drivers, but its location and function seems natural and sensible. Sensible, too, is how the instrument cluster display between the gauges works; toggles on the steering wheel let the driver access key functions on the move. All climate tasks can be controlled by physical dials and buttons on the center console.
A few quirks and confusions indicate this is a first-effort car. The navigation system SD card, which will almost never be accessed, is smack in the center of the dashboard, displacing more useful buttons next to it. Several times on our tester, switching drive modes while using Apple CarPlay garbled our music, requiring an on-off of the audio to fix. The head-up display spontaneously disappeared between drives. We eventually found it, positioned in a way that couldn’t be safely viewed while driving. It wouldn’t adjust back into sight, as if the projector shifted entirely. Adaptive cruise control cut out at the same time, and no number of vehicle restarts got it going again.
Although Genesis is a subbrand of Hyundai, little about the G70 indicates that it shares parts with a non-luxury brand. Yes, the lower door cards are plastic, and the infotainment is what you’d find in any Hyundai. But if Genesis saved development dollars there and spent more on improving the way the car drives, it’s a worthwhile trade-off. At $44,895 USD, our fully loaded G70 2.0T Dynamic rings up many thousands of dollars less than similarly equipped competitors.
We summed up our 2019 Car of the Year report by praising Genesis for “accomplishing the near impossible: It built a better 3 Series.” Again, in a recent comparison, the G70 2.0T beat the 330i (but was bested by the Tesla Model 3), our testers saying the Korean car “represents the pinnacle of a segment.” To answer our earlier questions, yes, the G70 is still excellent even with the smaller engine. And yes, it still beats the 3 Series.
|2019 Genesis G70 2.0T|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$44,895|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/252-hp/260-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,659 lb (51/49%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||184.5 x 72.8 x 55.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.7 sec @ 93.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||106 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.94 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.2 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||22/30/25 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||153/112 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.78 lb/mile|