The fast and lithe Genesis G70 has been facelifted to align with this Korean luxury brand’s new image. For the most part, the G70 convinces.
The Genesis G70 is a seriously compelling vehicle when specified with the available 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine.
With the base two-litre turbo four the G70 is an involving drive but add the almost absurdly muscular V6, and you’ll be convinced that a big-block motor in a small, RWD sports sedan still makes so much sense.
But the beauty of the visually-updated G70 is that it appeals to the mind as well as the heart. Fully loaded it’s as brawny as an Audi S4, BMW M340i or Mercedes-AMG C43 but you’ll pay about twenty per cent less for it.
That’s necessary when you ask a discerning German luxury sedan driver to swap into the lesser-known premium badge of South Korean manufacturer Hyundai. But don’t let badge anxiety stop you at least taking the G70 for a test drive – to pass a sample up would be to miss out on a really fascinating car.
Twinned under the skin with the Kia Stinger, which shares the G70’s rear-drive platform and engine lineup, the Genesis offer is much more refined. That’s the case aesthetically, in our view, but especially in the careful tuning that Genesis engineers have completed in Australia of the car’s suspension, steering and stability control.
More than its Teutonic rivals, the G70 feels properly set up for the kind of rough-and-tumble backroads so common to Australia’s regions.
Equipped with the 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that produces 274kW of power and 510Nm of torque, the G70 really reminds you of who’s boss.
And that’s the rear axle of this car. Any moderate to hard throttle application immediately sends a quiver through the aft-end of the G70 – in a good way. You are constantly reminded that this car pushes from the back and steers either through the uncorrupted front wheels or through the rears if you’re keen enough…
The V6 is a worthwhile upgrade over the base 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder that makes 179kW of power and 353Nm of torque. The four-pot is absolutely serviceable and even produces a decent (though simulated) engine note, but the cracking four-bangers available in the Audi A4 45 TFSI or BMW 330i are better in every way.
An in-house eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox is standard, as are paddle shifters for manual control. The shift logic has been improved for 2021 and this has had a greater effect on the V6 than the four-cylinder. The six-spot slushes from ratio to ratio pretty imperceptibly.
It’s true that the six-cylinder motors in the S4, M340i and C43 are a little more refined and sophisticated than the Genesis 3.3-litre unit, but none of those cars have the G70’s trump card: an Australian-tuned electronic stability control programme.
That ESC is deftly calibrated for the Australian taste of liking a little bit of slip from the rear even with stability control fully on. ESC Sport is selectable for more leeway – but watch out if you throw the G70 into the Sport Plus driving mode. This turns ESC completely off and if the road’s wet, the back will go very, very quickly.
In that way, the suave G70 commands a bit of patience and respect if you turn the electric nannies off. But that makes it a driver’s car and means that it can take a bit of time in the saddle until you feel truly familiar with its abilities and patterns. Call it character.
A limited-slip differential is standard on the 3.3-litre and optional on the two-litre and this works hard and well. It’s a similar arrangement with big Brembo brakes: they’re fitted by default to the hard-charging V6 and they are optional on the four-cylinder.
The steering is pretty meaty and fairly heavy but it feels artificial; the G70’s tiller misses the C43’s creamy lightness or the Audi S4’s ultrafast, digital feel, falling somewhere in the unremarkable middle. The steering is fine, but it isn’t memorable.
What is more than fine is the G70’s ride, again tuned and adapted for Australian roads. The Genesis team tune the cars on NSW’s pockmarked blacktop and you can tell. The ride is appropriately firm, suitable for a small, sporty luxo four-door such as this, but bump absorption is good and hard edges are rounded off pleasantly.
The six-cylinder benefits from adaptive dampers with a fairly subtle change between comfort and sport settings, but the single-mode ride in the four-cylinder copes very well.
Road noise is kept at a mostly acceptable level, with acoustic glass fitted to cars with the optional Luxury Package added.
Safety-wise, the G70 is well kitted-out.
There’s forwards and junction AEB (but not reversing AEB). You get rear cross-traffic alert with braking intervention, and lane following assistance that works well some of the time. Blind spot monitoring is standard, plus the brilliant Genesis blind spot cameras. Safe exit warning also alerts you to a passing cyclist before you open the door.
The interior, though, has not received the same level of love. A full redesign of the cabin is expected for a mooted successor to the G70 in a few years’ time, so for now, the car carries on with the same basic components inside as it did when it launched in 2017.
That’s not an especially bad thing, as build quality is excellent – but the switchgear isn’t quite as opulent or differentiated from cousin Hyundai as the super-plush G80 that competes more squarely with a 5 Series or 7 Series BMW.
It’s true that the bar isn’t quite as high in the small sedan segment. No doubt the G70’s interior feels better screwed-together than that of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, though it lacks the quiet and effective functionality of the BMW M340i.
For 2021 the G70 does score a few material upgrades and, notably, a wider screen that runs the new Genesis-Hyundai-Kia infotainment system that is at once more mature looking but also more difficult to operate than last year’s version.
And while there’s in-built navigation and DAB radio, you won’t find satellite mapping here – or wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. The broader Hyundai group are yet to resolve a dispute with one of the smartphone makers, which would allow the wireless connectivity to be activated. The Audi and BMW both offer this functionality.
Ahead of the driver is a fully-digital instrument cluster – again, a Luxury Package inclusion – with 3D eye-tracking, though we find the three-dimensional effect a little off-putting. It can be turned off, and the gauges themselves are attractive.
But where is the map in the driver’s cluster? This is a standout feature of both the Audi and AMG rivals in this space. Digital gauges that merely replicate analogue units are nearly moot.
We like the seats, which are trimmed in nappa leather if you opt for the almost-mandatory $10,000 Luxury package. There is plenty of adjustment and the driver benefits from extended features like tightening bolsters and a thigh extender – the passenger does not, oddly. Heating and cooling means staying temperate in Australia should be easy.
The Luxury Package also adds luxe suede headlining, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, a head-up display, a punchy Lexicon stereo, heated rear seats, upgraded headlights, a power tailgate, and acoustic glass to dim road noise. A panoramic sunroof and wireless smartphone charging rated to 15-watts are standard.
The secondary materials used in the cabin are all impressive, with fewer hard-touch plastic surfaces evident than in this car’s immediate rivals.
Space in the back, though, is notably less generous than the M340i. Six-foot adults won’t be comfortable travelling in the second row, though younger children will be fine and nobody will complain about short trips.
Meanwhile, the 330-litre boot is on the smaller size for this class but you’ll get a couple of suitcases in there without issue.
And for those that love the idea of the G70 but need additional space, Genesis is bringing the G70 Shooting Brake wagon to Australia – but only with the two-litre turbo petrol engine, sadly – no 3.3 will be offered in estate form because Europe don’t take the big motor.
Equipped with the 3.3-litre engine, as you’d expect, the G70 likes a drink. But that’s okay, because this car is very inexpensive to run in other ways.
That is because Genesis offer five years of servicing included in the (non-negotiable) price of the car. Keep in mind that the service intervals are shorter than most rivals, pegged at 12 months/10,000km.
While that’s much shorter than AMG’s 12 months/25,000km interval for the rival C43, it’s still a sweet deal to pay $0 for 5 years/50,000km. The same time period will set you back over $4,000 in the Mercedes.
Genesis matches Germany’s three-pointed star in offering a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty in Australia, bettering the poor three years provided on an Audi or BMW in this country.
And while fuel consumption of about 12L/100km of premium-octane petrol in the real world is fairly thirsty – and a touch less efficient than an Audi S4 – it’s not entirely unreasonable given the performance on offer.
The Genesis G70 is a great left-field choice in the sports luxury sedan space.
Sure, it doesn’t have the four rings, the roundel or the three-pointed star, but savvy buyers won’t let that factor hold them back.
That’s because the G70 provides unparalleled bang for buck in a small sedan that is this luxurious. It’s more refined than its Kia Stinger cousin and has a convincingly premium, well-made cabin.
Equip your G70 with the 3.3-litre, LSD and Brembo brakes and it’s an Australian-tuned weapon well suited for devouring Aussie country roads.
Now more suave to look at, we think it’s a compelling choice.
Key specs (as tested)
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