It’s not often that a car keeps me so engaged that I legitimately don’t want to stop driving.
Over the course of the twelve days that the 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T Sport was in our garage, we somehow logged just over 1,000km on it. It’s not that this entry to the compact luxury sports sedan market is particularly revolutionary, either. This rear-drive, turbocharged number is just so balanced that it reminds me of the segment that made me an enthusiast in the first place.
First things first – the G70 2.0T Sport stands alone in its segment. It has some very real competitors including the Audi A4 (reviewed here), Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3-series, but it’s the only one in its class that offers the configuration that enthusiasts want and crave – a rear-wheel-drive setup with a traditional six-speed manual transmission. The A4 can be had with three pedals but only with AWD, and the 3-series offers a six-speed with the six-cylinder 340i xDrive. Just about everything else is either all-wheel-drive, automatic, or in most cases, both.
Powering this G70 is a 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder, which is the base engine displacement for legitimately everything else in the class. Output is 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, which is more than enough. Those craving more power will want to opt for a twin-turbocharged 3.3L V6 with 365 horsepower, but that’s a story for another day. Base 2.0T cars come with all-wheel-drive, but Genesis Motors Canada’s stellar product planning team has ensured that this 2.0T Sport is equipped specifically for the purist.
This is the only trim level in which the Genesis G70 can be had in rear-drive form – the base 2.0T Advanced gets all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic as standard equipment. The Sport gets a slick-shifting six-speed manual with a shifter that has a very BMW-esque personality. It’s a little bit on the rubbery side and the gates are further apart than we’d like, but a solid effort overall. Clutch uptake will take some getting used to, but after a few minutes behind the wheel the transmission becomes second nature, and you begin to question why you spent those three years with a boring, leased automatic BMW 328i.
Response from the 2.0T is more than adequate, and frankly, there’s no real need to step up to the 3.3T unless raw power is near the top of the priority list. This trim level also offers a true mechanical limited-slip differential, a 19” staggered tire setup with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer rubber, and Brembo brakes (four-piston front and two-piston rear). A raw performance car this is not, but the G70 Sport offers more compelling driving dynamics than any of its rivals.
Steering feel and response is an area where the BMW 3-series has reigned for eons, but in recent years it has fallen off that pedestal. Current Bavarian offerings in this class have good steering once turned in, but horrid on-center feel. After spending some serious time on a longer road trip into New York State with this G70, we came to truly value the on-center tightness of the G70. Zero overcorrection is needed, and the car tracks dead straight without issue. Push the car into a corner and it’s ready to dance; turn-in is sharp and the response is immediate.
The fixed dampers on the Sport provide the perfect amount of road feedback without being too harsh. It’s definitely on the firmer side of sporty, and those who want adjustable suspension will have to step up to the fully loaded 3.3T Sport for the Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension. Next to the shifter (and proper mechanical hand brake!) is a drive mode selector that adjusts throttle mapping and steering weight. There is a sport exhaust system that one of our editors referred to sounding like as a grown-up Elantra Sport (reviewed here).
Fuel efficiency is right in line with what we expect from the 2.0L compact sport sedan segment. Our longer highway haul into New York State and back returned a conservative 7.4L/100km on 91-octane premium fuel, which is impressive. Putting the car through the average rush hour commute from the suburbs of Toronto into the city and back was about 9.6L/100km, and the overall average for our test came back at 8.6L/100km. Premium fuel is recommended for optimal performance and efficiency.
The G70’s styling is right in line with what we now expect from Genesis, handsome but rather derivative. Looking at the car from a rear 3/4 angle would have the average onlooker mistake it for just about anything else. This could be positive, as the brands that our G70 was confused for include Audi and Lexus. Styling cues to the 2.0T Sport include LED headlights, dark chrome accents throughout the exterior, smoked taillight lenses, and black headlight housings with copper accents. There is a Genesis logo projected onto the ground from the side-view mirrors – a nice touch at this price point.
We recently had a G90 Ultimate at the office, and rather than seeing it as a budget-friendly flagship sedan, it was described as being a legitimate contender to the likes of the S-Class (reviewed here). The G70’s interior is just as well thought out as the larger offerings from Genesis, with top-notch materials. The seats are genuine Nappa leather on this trim level, which adds even more luxury. Luxurious quilting and light grey contrast stitching contrasts beautifully with the Nürburg Green exterior; a fresh change from the drab blacks and charcoals available elsewhere.
The stitching carries forth to the door panels, dash trim, and steering wheel. Though some of the buttons are hard plastic, it doesn’t feel low-rent. Rotary dials and knobs are all polished or knurled and metallic, a very upscale touch. Ergonomics are quite good as well, with a good driving position and adequate adjustability on the seats. One interesting feature is that whenever a seat switch is touched, a diagram appears on the infotainment screen providing a real-time visual of what is being adjusted.
Not only is the G70 2.0T Sport extremely unique for its powertrain setup, but it really is a value proposition as far as premium sedans are concerned. One step up from the base “Advanced” model, the Sport adds a 15-speaker Lexicon sound system, LED headlights, heads-up display, a black suede headliner, and more. It comes in at a startlingly low $45,500, and this includes destination and PDI. Even the top trim G70, which is the 3.3T Sport AWD, comes in below the $58,000 mark. Comparing the rivals, it’s quite easy to get a six-cylinder 3-series or an Audi S4 (reviewed here) well past this number.
When considering how good the G70 is in every aspect, it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room. It’s often forgotten that the portlier Kia Stinger GT (reviewed here) shares its basic underpinnings with the G70. The Genesis has a 111.6” wheelbase and 184.5” overall length, both dimensions coming in significantly smaller than the Stinger. The Kia costs about the same as the G70 in base trim (though destination brings this price higher), and it’s not quite as light on its feet. Long story short; if you want a grand tourer, the Stinger GT is a fantastic choice, but if you want the scalpel of the two, get the Genesis.
Introducing the Genesis sub-brand has been working quite well for the Hyundai Motor Company. The flagship G90 and mid-size G80 are both excellent cars, and the 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T Sport really is a treat. The Advanced at $42,000 is a solid premium offering, and this Sport is sure to bring in disgruntled buyers who have nowhere else to turn for a traditional rear-drive, manual sport sedan. She used to have a little; now she has a lot – she’s still Genny from the Block.