REVIEW: Genesis G70 sport sedan genuinely fun to drive

Genesis is proud of their G70 sport sedan, and rightly so.

When it arrived last year, it set the Korean cat amongst the German pigeons, offering driving dynamics that weren’t just a bargain, they were actually superior.

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With both the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series trying to be all things to all people, the normal luxury options seemed a bit unfocused. The G70, on the other hand, was a car built by a company that understood the need to prove itself. It’s not dissimilar to what happened 30 years ago with the Lexus LS400.

The one issue, as I see it, is that the G70 made its name for its sporting appeal – which isn’t what every luxury buyer is looking for. Happily, here’s the new Prestige trim, which is closer to what mainstream buyers are looking for. For instance, it comes with all-season tires, rather than summer-only ones.

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The handsome, toned-down and comfortable interior of the Genesis G70 shines when compared to other more expensive luxury sport sedans. photo supplied

Can the G70 still hold its head high when it’s examined as a luxury product instead of just sporting bang for your buck? Let’s take a closer look at the more polished variant of the Genesis sedan.

Design

Designing a brand from the ground up is no mean feat. The G70 can neither blend in, nor can it stand out too much, and turn off potential customers.

Overall, I’d say they’ve done OK, with the possible exception of the front grille. It’s a little overlarge, but that’s the state of the industry these days.

From all other angles, the G70 is a great-looking machine, properly proportioned, and with sheet metal that doesn’t dwarf its 19-inch wheels. LED lights are standard.

Environment

When the G70 debuted for the Canadian market, optioning the V-6 meant you had to get the Sport variant, with no colour choice for the interior. The all-black leather was very well finished, but it was a bit stark looking.

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Genesis G70 rear quarter. photo supplied

With the new 3.3T Prestige trim, buyers have the option of a more welcoming brown leather interior, which contrasts nicely with optional exterior colours like Nurburg Green. Fit and finish are very good, and the stitched trim and brightworks are luxurious rather than purely sporty.

Manufacturers have a tendency to install swathes of faux carbon fibre trim in interiors today. Genesis has kept things toned down, and the G70 is the better for it.

Compared to something like a Lexus IS350, the G70 is much more roomy and comfortable up front. Having said that, the rear seats are still a bit of a squeeze, and a few more storage cubbies wouldn’t go amiss.

Performance

Previously, the G70 was only available in the more luxurious trims with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. It’s a perfectly adequate option, and the chassis still shines with it underhood, but you’re missing out a bit.

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Genesis G70 engine. photo supplied

Instead, the G70’s wonderful 3.3-litre twin-turbo V-6 is the way to go. Producing 365 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m. and 376 foot-pounds of torque from 1,300-4,500 r.p.m., it’s surprisingly potent. You have to step up to the mild-M or AMG models from BMW or Mercedes, respectively, to get the same power.

With the G70, you can get this kind of thrust, along with all-wheel drive and a quick-witted eight-speed automatic transmission, for $56,000. That’s not cheap, but this is an all-the-options price, with no added extras needed for navigation or driver assists. Adding up the features, it’s thousands less than a roughly equivalent Infiniti Q50.

So yes, there’s a value argument to be made, but the G70 is more than just power and features in a tidy little package. It’s a well-tuned sports sedan that’s genuinely fun to drive.

All-wheel drive provides confident grip, but the car is slightly rear-biased and playful. The steering, like most modern cars, isn’t super-communicative, but it is direct and the G70 reacts quickly. And, at the same time, the suspension is well-tuned enough not to be harsh and crashy over bumps.

If you don’t care about badge snobbery, this is a great car. And, if you’re worried about resale, just check out the leasing options.

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Genesis G70 interior. photo supplied

But suffice to say that the joy of being behind the wheel of a G70 with the V-6 isn’t about the price point. It’s how well it performs that’ll put the smile on your face.

Features

At the Prestige level, there aren’t really any options. The car comes standard with satellite navigation, automated cruise control, a heads-up display, multi-view parking cameras, and even a power rear trunk.

Fuel economy figures are competitive for the segment, at 13.3 litres/100 kilometres in the city and 9.5 l/100 km on the highway. Being a turbocharged car that’s spirited to drive, you’ll likely do a little worse in the real world.

Green light

Great value; fun to drive; more luxurious than expected.

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Genesis G70 front. photo supplied

Stop sign

Not much badge prestige; infotainment identical to Hyundai products.

The checkered flag

The Genesis G70 is still great fun in a more luxurious trim, and a compelling offering when pitched against more expensive rivals.

Competition

Infiniti Q50 Red Sport ($56,195): For a long time, Japan’s answer to BMW was Infiniti. Lexus went after the Mercedes-Benz luxury market, and Infiniti offered a bit more performance.

These days, the Q50 sedan is a little more of a cruiser than the old G35 was. Still, it comes with plenty of oomph from its 400 h.p. twin-turbo straight six. Passing power is stellar.

But in a sports sedan, balance is just as important as outright force. The Infiniti isn’t as polished dynamically as the G70. Both are still great alternatives to the obvious Bavarian options.

mcaleeronwheels@gmail.com

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