I’m going to hazard a guess that a lot of you are looking at the Genesis G70 on your screen right now and wondering what exactly this thing actually is. Certainly, a lot who saw it during the week I spent with it were confused but impressed by what they saw, with certain styling elements like the winged badge and grille attracting plenty of Bentley and Aston Martin comparisons.
You can imagine the shock of many, then, when I explained to them that Genesis is indeed the new luxury marque created by none other than Hyundai, and that this car is based on a Kia underneath the skin. Okay, sure, it’s a shortened version of the Stinger’s platform, but it is a Kia nonetheless.
Despite the Hyundai and Kia connections, there’s not everyday about the G70 in reality, however, as the Genesis brand is here not only to rival the similarly ranked likes of Lexus, but the established European players at BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar as well.
Tested here in equal-range-topping and uber-classy 3.3T Ultimate specification (the racier-looking Sport Ultimate is available at the same $79,990 list price) this G70 takes aim at its top-spec compact executive sedan rivals with a strong list of specifications, but one thing many fail to offer as much of – power!
You see, the G70, while available with a class-standard 2.0-litre turbo four in lower-tier models, can be optioned up with a big V6 which is quickly becoming absent from the ranks of many rivals. The new BMW 3 Series range now lacks a non-M (or M Performance) six-cylinder version, the Jaguar XE range has been pared back to a sole 2.0-litre after the unfortunate culling of the stupendously good S model, and Mercedes will require you to fork out for an AMG C43 to get a six.
Only the Lexus IS 350, then, offers a six-pot engine for a reasonable price, but the naturally aspirated donk in that can’t hold a candle to the brute force the engine in the G70 offers up.
Lifted straight from the Stinger, it sports the same 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 with a hefty 272kW and 510Nm on tap, which in proper sports-sedan fashion is sent to the rear wheels alone through an eight-speed torque converter automatic.
In reality, it feels exactly as quick as the numbers would have you believe – as it saves some weight over the Stinger by being smaller, the G70 hauls itself to triple digits from a standstill in a very impressive 4.7 seconds.
With an incredibly wide spread of torque from 1300-4500rpm, there’s never a moment the G70 feels out of breath, and as is such with a pair of turbos strapped to it, it still pulls hard all the way to redline.
Perhaps most impressively, it’s an engine – and, indeed, an entire drivetrain – that feels incredibly refined. The power delivery is linear and smooth, and the transmission shifts intuitively and seamlessly when left to it’s own devices – do note, you’ll want to leave it alone as there’s no dedicated mode for the paddle shifters, meaning it quickly reverts back to regular auto-shifting if you leave it alone for too long.
The rear-wheel drive dynamics of the G70, as with the Stinger, are felt clearly as well, as leaving the car in its Comfort setting keeps everything in check but still lets you experience that muscular rear-drive feeling, while put it into Sport mode and it’ll happily forget that it’s a luxury car and transforms into a sideways-steering, tyre-frying monster.
It could be said, perhaps, that it’s almost too tail-happy – the short wheelbase, not-quite-wide-enough 255/40 rear tyres, and snappy throttle response mean that its one of the easiest cars to try and engage a powerslide in, but so much so that it can feel a tad twitchy and try to step out when you don’t want it to – but with a well-trained right foot, it’s a total blast through the bends, with it allowing for that right bit of oversteer that fans of rear-wheel drive will be looking for with the forgiving traction control still left on.
If precision driving is what you’re looking for, its Comfort setting actually helps it feel far more balanced and easy to position on the road without all the added exuberance. As with all Hyundai (and Kia) products, the Genesis range, too, has been treated to Aussie-tuned suspension setups, and the one here in the G70 is absolutely divine. There’s a spot-on mix of comfort and forgiveness with its razor-sharp precision and neutral-to-oversteer lateral balance, with barely a hint of body roll to ever be felt without sacrificing its good bump absorption.
The wonderful electric steering rack makes it easy to hold your line with, too, as it delivers a heavy feel and quick response even without the added weighting it gets when thrown into Sport mode. Kudos to the work of Genesis’ engineers, as they’ve made one incredibly fun to drive beast with this thing.
When you’re driving it hard, there’s no need to worry about its braking performance either thanks to a set of big Brembo brakes with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers as standard, which, on public roads at least, never once started to fade significantly, with strong repeated stopping power – exactly what you need when you’re really hustling this thing along.
But then, the G70 Ultimate isn’t all about driving around like your hair’s on fire (or, driving around like a motoring journalist) as what’s perhaps even more impressive than how well Genesis has made this car drive – given how many fantastic cars its parent company Hyundai has been putting out lately – is how luxurious they’ve made it feel inside, as I honestly believe they’ve outdone not only themselves with this one, but the rest of the competition at this price point.
You’d think it’d have a six-figure price tag from behind the wheel given the quality of the materials throughout. All of the leather is incredibly plush, ornately stitched, and varied with a mix of perforated and plain finishes. The carpet is thick and plush in a very Germanic way. The screens are clear and matte-finished to reduce smudging. The headliner is entirely covered in Alcantara. And, best of all they’ve almost entirely avoided putting any easily scratched and smudged piano black plastic inside of it.
I was very glad that my tester came in the exact colour and trim specs I hoped it would, too – Forest Green Metallic for the incredibly handsome exterior, and a truly stunning combination of vanilla beige and green leather on the inside. Does it look absolutely gorgeous? Yes, certainly, but will it last the test of time? Well, most surfaces appeared as though they were hard-wearing enough to, but the questionably off-white carpets were absolutely trashed after 8000km of abuse on the press fleet. If you like the look of it and are happy to stay on top of maintenance, I’d just suggest getting a spare set of black floor mats to avoid ruining the easy-to-mark white ones. Otherwise, black and brown finishes are all also available.
I must mention, too, the brilliant seating with adjustable bolsters for the driver and fantastic driving position in general, with plenty of electrically-controlled steering wheel adjustment and everything where you’d expect it to be. There’s heated seats all round, cooled front seats, and a heated steering wheel as well, so it’s certainly packing a lot of kit.
The infotainment system has been a sore point for some journos, who have complained about it being a carry-over from most Hyundai and Kia models, but in my eyes, I think that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – the system looks good, works well, and has all the functionality that’s expected these days, such as sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and DAB+ digital radio which can be played through the fantastic 15-speaker Lexicon stereo.
What’s more of a literal sore point for me is the cramped rear seat which is lacking big time in regards to legroom. It’s not the worst offence to have committed, as few rivals do have a particularly good backseat when it comes to fitting adults back there, but as the new 3 Series is now one exception, it is something worth noting.
As an entire package, however, I personally believe that the G70 – particularly as specified here – is probably the one to buy now, as it very quickly became my new class favourite during the time I spent with it. It’s great to look at, fantastic to be in, comfortable, luxurious, but also sporty, and goes much harder than any of its rival, especially for the price.
And sure, when you start looking through the Genesis website – currently the only way to purchase one unless you go to the current sole Genesis Studio in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall – you’ll see that the $79,950 list price quickly balloons into a drive-away figure of $88,042 based on South Australian costs, where Drive Section HQ is based.
Given that includes a class-leading five-year warranty with five years of free servicing that includes a Genesis rep collecting the car from you and dropping off a loaner, plus the fact that it’s easily the quickest in the class you’ll get for the money, it’s a no brainer for me at least – if you can deal with people forever asking you what on Earth it is you’re driving, the G70 Ultimate is one of the finest luxury sports sedans around, and easily the best value for the money buy that the class has to offer.
2019 Genesis G70 3.3T Ultimate List Price: $79,950
- Performance - 9/109/10
- Ride & Handling - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech & Features - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8/108/10
- Value for Money - 8.5/108.5/10
Pros: Ballistic performance, well-balanced chassis, interior materials feel a class above
Cons: Cramped back seat, gets expensive once drive-away costs are factored in, unusual purchase procedure
In a nutshell: Serving up a truly phenomenal blend of stealth wealth looks, luxurious materials, and top-tier performance, the Europeans ought to watch their backs.
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Genesis Motors Australia for a week with a full tank of petrol. All additional fuel expenses were covered by the author. Our good friends at MPF Detailing also gave it a complimentary Express Detail prior to our photoshoot.