Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: December 23, 2019
We drove the G70 before with the 3.3t V6 engine in Sport trim and despite popular opinion, we weren’t that impressed. Challenging established names like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class is an audacious feat, something that the relatively unsuccessful Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE, and Cadillac ATS certainly know something about. Genesis, Hyundai’s upstart luxury brand, needed some flair in their G70 Sedan to make it stand out, and while its quality cabin and balanced powertrain offer a convincing case, it just wasn’t enough to win in this high-stakes game.
We’re taking a second drive in a more relaxed form of the G70, loaded up with the same V6 engine but sans the Sport trim. That means it does without the limited slip differential, adaptive suspension, body kit, and sport-oriented interior trimmings. Starting at a rather eye-opening $56,000, the entry price for our 3.3t Prestige may not seem competitive when you can also find yourself in the less powerful but much more engaging BMW 330i xDrive that not only looks better in my eyes, but also has the better infotainment system. Or there’s the Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC which provides one of the most relaxing and comfortable driving experiences in the luxury compact segment. However, Genesis tries to build on its value-oriented mission by including every option as standard, so you won’t have to pay extra for things like the head up display or adaptive LED headlights.
As we reported before, the 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged engine is a strong unit, and definitely worth the upgrade over the G70’s standard 2.0-litre engine. With deliberate and decisive power delivery, you get a clear sense of acceleration the moment you step on the gas, but even though it utilizes a steel unibody with an aluminum hood, you also feel every bit of its substantial 1,816 kg curb weight dragging it down, and it’s even more pronounced without the adaptive suspension. This is one area where the more athletic BMW 3 Series takes a step ahead. Even with two turbochargers at the helm, the G70 only manages 365 hp and 376 lb-ft, and launches from 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, the same speed as the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Sedan but significantly slower than the BMW M340i (382 hp, 4.4 seconds).
The 8-speed transmission isn’t the most polished gearbox and it certainly lags behind its rivals, failing to accurately rev-match for gentle transitions and is hesitant to shift when left to its own devices. We also experienced a bit of throttle hang when lifting off the pedal too - not the most confidence inspiring. The G70 offers five driving modes to choose from and a host of settings to tailor the suspension, engine, and steering, but I never found a setting I particularly enjoyed for spirited driving, and the differences between them were hardly noticeable. And while front-end grip and chassis balance is positive, the electric steering is not, and never made the G70 feel hunkered down and ready to play. The steering has good on-center feel but is too springy, boosted, and over-reactive to the slightest of inputs. While that should in theory make the G70 feel sprightlier, in this case it feels heavier and more ungainly because of it.
The overly synthesized exhaust note does not fare much better either. The computers electronically enhance engine sounds by piping them through the speakers, and will change depending on the driving mode. What you hear inside the cabin is strikingly different from what you hear outside. Listen to our Exhaust Notes video above to see what I mean. Morally, this bugs me but it doesn’t sound that great anyways, missing the opportunity to give the G70 a unique auditory signature like the silky smooth howl of BMW’s inline-six or the whine of AMG’s V6.
Genesis spent a great deal of time and money attending to cabin details, and this G70 3.3t Prestige is littered with upscale quality materials, sturdy buttons with confirmative feedback, expensive feeling metal panels and door releases, and soft quilted leather seats. Every touchpoint feels deliberate and focused, with not a panel out of place. It’s definitely better put together in here than anything from Jaguar or Cadillac - an achievement on its own.
The touchscreen display will be familiar to anyone who has driven a modern Hyundai but in this instance, the dashboard-mounted screen is positioned too far from the driver. I have long arms but even I have to actively get off the seat to hit the screen prompts. Yes there are controls on the steering wheel but these are limited to volume and tuning controls, and cannot adjust other features like the navigation screen. A center console rotary dial would remedy this - there’s a reason why BMW has stuck with it for more than a decade. Rear seat legroom is appalling. When sitting behind my six-foot self, I can’t even stick my leg into the footwell without it getting stuck, let alone sit down. Disappointingly, the rear seats are entirely unusable for my height, and will undoubtedly be a deal breaker for taller passengers.
While spending more time behind the wheel of the G70 gave me a better appreciation of what Genesis engineers set out to do, I’m still not wholeheartedly convinced. Dynamically, the G70 does not fare better than its main rivals, let alone the Infiniti Q50 that I also found uninspiring and lacking that man-to-machine connection. The V6 is a strong unit and definitely worth the premium, but it fails to deliver an emotional exhaust note or athletic driving behaviour to triumph over the BMW M340i. The sheetmetal design is subjective but it’s hard not to be impressed by the interior, attractive price considering all the standard options, and hassle-free purchasing process. That should be enough for some buyers with a value-oriented mindset but there are still too many established players in this arena that outshine the G70 in many other ways, keeping me from recommending this Genesis as a top-tier luxury compact competitor.
Model: 2020 Genesis G70 3.3t Prestige
Paint Type: Adriatic Blue
Base Price: $56,000
Price as Tested: $56,000
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,685 / 1,850 / 1,400
Curb weight (kg): 1,816
Engine: 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6
Horsepower: 365 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 1,300 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 13.3 / 9.5 / 11.6
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.1