Hyundai and Kia have always represented a strong value since the companies climbed near the top of the quality rankings. Now, with the Genesis brand, the Korean automaker tries to do it again just on a grander scale.
Genesis is the luxury brand of the Hyundai Kia Auto Group, and the G70 is the small luxury car that gets the unenviable job of taking its fight straight to some of the best in the segment from the Germans and Swedes.
The Genesis G70 sits near the bottom of the middle of the pack in terms of overall sales, but despite its somewhat low volume, the vehicle manages to stand out. It’s also gaining ground in the segment. I got to spend a week with the G70 to see why.
My Time With the Vehicle
During my time with the car, I drove all over Indianapolis. I took it on the highway. I pretended to be a fancy executive who had to cram his small luxury sedan into a parking garage downtown. I did the whole drive-around-the-suburbs-and-to-the-grocery thing.
I drove it hard, I drove it soft, and I cruised along the unbelievably straight grid pattern of roads that crisscrosses much of the midwest. I also managed to find a few twisty bits of road to see what this car can do in the corners.
How is it? Excellent. Genesis is the real deal, and the G70 puts many other small luxury cars to shame. It does just about everything very well.Is it as good as the segment leaders? Not quite, but, boy, is it close.
What Is It?
A handsome small luxury sedan. The G70 won’t make that indefinable spot in your gut ache like when you look at a Jaguar E-Type, but it does make you smile and nod. Or maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, the car is a handsome machine with the right proportions and design elements swiped from just about every other luxury automaker out there. There’s a Hofmeister kink at the windows, a large hexagonal-shaped grille with a handsome mesh pattern to it, some sleek wraparound headlights and taillights, and some muscular sheet metal complete with a few well-placed creases for good measure. It’s a handsome car. It’s also somewhat unremarkable.
There are five seats, a trunk for bags or groceries, the interior is luxurious and the exterior is just eye-catching enough to make you either wonder what that car is or speculate on what it costs.
Under the Hood
My tester came with the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. That engine puts out a strong 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. The engine also delivers power predictably with no weird spikes in power. It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with some paddle-shifters and a manual mode in case you want to do an impression of a race car driver.
The transmission is a shift-by-wire system and it sends power to all four wheels thanks to a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. The all-wheel-drive system is not standard. Standard for this car is rear-wheel drive.
The G70 is also available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. That engine makes 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 3.3T is the more powerful engine, but you can get the G70 with the 2.0T with a manual (rear-wheel drive only), which will appeal to only a select few buyers (I’m one of them.)
I only drove the 3.3T model, though I’d love to check out the 2.0-liter, especially with the manual transmission.
Attractive & Well-Built Interior
The Genesis G70 has one of the most handsome interiors out there. It’s not quite as good as the Volvo S60 I recently reviewed, but I think it beats many other cars in its segment with the exception of the aforementioned Volvo and maybe the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The interior materials all feel high quality, the layout is elegant and clean without too much going on or too many conflicting interior materials.
The seats are clad in soft, comfortable leather and they’re also quite supportive. I was comfortable even on long drives. The back seats felt cramped, though the interior materials were still good.
The infotainment system is one of the better ones out there. Some people will like BMW and Mercedes-Benz systems better, but Genesis is leaps ahead of Lexus, Infiniti, and Cadillac. The system’s graphics could use a refresh (Genesis has had them for a few years now), but it’s easy to use and full of good features like navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and other apps and features.
Everything inside the cabin felt and looked upscale, which is exactly what you want from a luxury car, and with the G70’s bargain price compared to the competition, this is good news.
A Safe Small Luxury Car
The Genesis G70 is one of the best small luxury cars out there when it comes to safety. The vehicle received a 2019 Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS. The car has not been rated by the NHTSA, but I’d expect it to receive similar high marks.
The vehicle comes with a lot of safety equipment that includes: vehicle stability management, traction control, brake assist, seven airbags, forward collision avoidance system with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic collision warning, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, high-beam assist, and hill-start assist.
How Big Is It?
The Genesis G70 has quite a presence, but it’s really not a very big car. The vehicle measures 184 inches in length, 73 inches in width, and 55 inches in height. This is similar in size to the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Volvo S60 in the same segment. All of those cars, however, are slightly longer.
Inside, the car features 42.6 inches of legroom up front and 34.8 inches of legroom in the rear. Up front that’s a great number, beating most of the competition. However, when it comes to rear legroom the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Volvo S60 do better.
When it comes to the trunk area, the Genesis comes up short. It features less cargo space than much of the competition. The G70 has 10.5 cubic feet of trunk space. The Mercedes C-Class beats that by about two cubic feet. The Volvo S60 beats it by about a cubic foot. The BMW smashes the G70 with a comparably cavernous trunk that’s about six and a half cubic feet
Does It Work?
The Genesis G70 fulfills its mission. It hangs with the competition in just about every way and does so at a price point that undercuts the competition (more on that later).
The car is a sporty, almost hot-rod of a luxury car and can take on the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Volvo S60 among others with ease in terms of performance. Is the G70 a class leader?It’s not the class leader, but it’s darn close.
In terms of its interior, the car is again on par with the best in the segment, but it comes up just a little short of the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class in terms of interior materials and technology. I also think the Volvo S60 has a more elegant interior design overall.
From an exterior standpoint, I actually think the car looks better from many angles than the cars that arguably have informed its styling. Genesis has done a masterful job of taking design cues from other automakers and crafting a new vehicle from them. It’s a derivative design, but a good one.
Overall, the car is a very satisfying machine. The G70 does everything it needs to do to challenge the leaders and assert itself in the market. That’s why it’s gaining market share. The fact that it’s gaining ground makes even more sense when you look at the price.
Does It Justify Its Price?
You bet your buns. One place where Genesis beats the competition handily is on price. This is a move that Lexus has pulled for years, but now Genesis is doing an even better job at it. The car features a starting price of $35,450. That’s well below the BMW and Mercedes offerings. It even manages to beat Audi, Volvo, Lexus, and Infiniti by a couple thousand.
That is, of course, the starting price for the car. Climb the ladder and you’re looking at a significantly higher price tag. My tester came to me with a final dollar amount of $50,995. Not cheap, to be sure, but then luxury car buyers aren’t looking for a cheap car, they’re looking for a good value and a car they can be proud of. A comparable model from BMW and Mercedes are much higher priced.
The Genesis might not offer all of the prestige that BMW and Mercedes do, but it does offer almost everything else. Also, Genesis seems to be gaining some ground when it comes to its image.
The luxury automaker is doing all of the right things to build the kind of reputation it needs with offers that include: three years of connected services with every purchase, three years of remote basic service, multimedia and navigation updates, three-years of regular maintenance complimentary, Sirius XM for three years, and three years of roadside assistance should you need it.
What’s the Verdict?
The G70 is the luxury car value proposition. It gives buyers looking for a less expensive small luxury car an option while still providing all of the style, comfort, features, and performance that you get from other automakers.
The car is darn good in almost every way, and the few areas that it comes up short in, it does so only by a little bit, which means its lower price may still sway many buyers. I know it would make up my mind for me. The smaller back seat and smaller trunk may be a no-go for some buyers, but those are areas of the car that I see a lot of folks compromising on.
As far as I can tell, the G70 will continue gaining ground in the segment, and it’s pretty clear why. This is a car in a tough segment and still manages to stand out. Good job, Genesis.
Base Price: $35,450 (3.3T Prestige AWD trim $45,750)
Price as Tested: $50,995 (with a $995.00 destination fee)