For years, the BMW 3 Series has been the benchmark by which all other entry-level compact luxury sports sedans have been measured. Few have tried to unseat it, but they have failed to stick.
Until now. Meet the 2019 Genesis G70, which was recently selected as MotorTrend’s Car of the Year.
For purists, it will be tough to believe that a car built by Hyundai, a South Korean company once known for making less-than-reliable vehicles, could rival German engineering. But as Hyundai’s car quality has increased, so has its focus on turning the luxury market on its head.
I’m not saying it’s perfect — no car is — but the G70 offers a pretty complete package wrapped in great styling that comes with a sub-$50,000 price tag.
It’s no wonder the G70 has great visual appeal. Genesis’ parent company has assembled some ringers, including former Bentley designers Luc Donckerwolke and SangYup Lee and Bugatti Chiron designer Sasha Selipanov, on a team led by former Lamborghini guru Manfred Fitzgerald.
On first glance, the G70 presents a quality looking exterior that punches above its price tag. The sharp angles on the grille are softened toward the trunk, giving the car a sleek, aerodynamic look. A low stance gives the car a sport appearance.
The one I drove was finished in Adriatic Blue, which appeared to change color based in the light. It shimmered blue during the day and took on an inky near-black at night. The color was set off more by the silver wheels and red-painted Brembo brake calipers.
The interior, for lack of a better word, is exquisite. It is worth noting that the G70 I drove was equipped with the Prestige Package, which included Nappa leather seats and a microfiber suede headliner.
The diamond-patterned stitching on both the door panels and seats gave an immediate sense of quality and refinement, especially with the near-white leather interior. I found the seats — which come standard heated and ventilated — to be comfortable and well-bolstered.
Personally, I could have done without the microfiber suede headliner, but it did add an air of class some would appreciate.
In addition to the Prestige Package, the car I drove also had the Elite Package, which included a large sunroof that I quite enjoyed and a wireless charging pad located in a storage area below the radio.
I only found two issues with the interior and both are quite minor: The backseat could be a bit larger (although it did have heated seats) and the infotainment system is the same used in Hyundai models. If Genesis truly wants to be a defined luxury brand, it should consider developing a signature infotainment system.
Where the G70 really makes its mark is under the hood. Genesis used the same 3.3-liter V6 equipped with twin turbochargers as the Kia Stinger and the engine makes the car a blast to drive. The power output — 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque — is more than enough to spin the wheels and tops most German engines not geared for performance.
The G70 offers five drive modes: Sport, Smart, Eco, Comfort and Custom. I found myself using the Smart mode (which adapts to the driver) the most frequently, as it offered responsive steering and plenty of power when I needed it.
Sport mode — when the steering is tightened and the engine allowed to really rev — was the most entertaining option. I disliked the Comfort setting, as I felt is hampered what the G70 is made to do: drive.
I drove the rear-wheel drive example of the car, but Genesis also offers an all-wheel drive option. As much as I enjoyed my driving experience, I’m curious how the different drivetrain would affect the car’s overall steering feel. Maybe I’ll learn in a future review.
The G70 has some features I didn’t get the opportunity to test. On V6s equipped with automatic transmissions (exactly what I drove), Genesis threw in a launch mode that will supposedly rocket the sedan to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
The automatics also come with paddle shifters for those craving the manual driving experience. I personally dislike them, as they don’t tend to affect shift times in an automatic transmission. Instead, I let the 8-speed automatic do the thinking for me while I put the car through its enjoyable paces.
While Genesis has yet to become a household name, the 2019 G70 certainly has the marque on the right path. The car’s design, performance and appeal to luxury car buyers will start turning heads and I wouldn’t be shocked to start seeing more of them zipping down the highway.
Aside from the 3 Series, the G70’s biggest challenge will be the ongoing shift by buyers away from sedans and toward crossovers. But if the car makes its deserved big splash, it could put the Genesis name in buyers’ minds ahead of some SUVs rumored for 2020.
BMW has long sat atop the throne of entry-level compact luxury cars. Other automakers have slapped a big bullseye on the German marque’s back for years but have failed to hit the target. However, Genesis has made a clear statement with the G70 that just may have engineers in Stuttgart looking over their shoulders.
2019 Genesis G70
Vehicle type: five-passenger, four-door sedan, rear-wheel drive
Base price: $43,750 Price as tested: $48,995
Engine: 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, 365 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 376 pound-feet of torque at 1,300 rpm Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 111.6 inches Overall length/width: 184.4 inches / 72.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,887 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 18 city / 26 highway / 21 combined
Assembled in: Ulsan, South Korea