Since launching the Genesis brand in late 2015, Hyundai has slowly been growing its relatively fledgling luxury arm from what at first appeared to be a somewhat misguided attempt at copying Lexus’ success in the early 1990s at the wrong time into, what is in my opinion, one of the most exciting marques in the industry right now.
With an emphasis on old-school luxury that prioritises fit and finish over unnecessary tech, and with a healthy dose of big-boost performance thrown into the mix, this is a marque making cars that have clear enthusiast appeal. Plus, with the lineup now having grown to include SUVs such as the GV70 and GV80 along with the electric GV60 – as well as keeping cornerstone sedan models like the stunning G80 in the mix as well – the chances are that the marque actually has a shot at success now, allowing them to keep producing some models aimed squarely at enthusiasts.
Models just like the company’s performance flagship you see here – the 2022 G70 3.3T Sport. One of the initial three sedan models the marque launched itself with globally – the others being the original G80, formerly the Hyundai Genesis, and the G90 that has never reached Aussie shores – it might be last-gen next to the rest of Genesis’ lineup now, but it has been given a welcome facelift after four years on the market.
Based underneath on the Kia Stinger, if with a shortened wheelbase, the pre-facelift model, while certainly handsome, did look a bit too much like a tarted up Hyundai due to a lack of any real definitive styling cues. Now, though, thanks to Genesis’ new crest-shaped grille design and two-tiered lighting signature, it actually manages to defy its age and look just as new and fresh as the rest of what the marque is now producing.
Do keep in mind, though, that not all G70s are created equal. While the range starts at $63,000 before on-roads for the base 2.0T which certainly still looks pretty smart, it’s only Sport models – $4000 extra for the 2.0T, but fortunately standard for the $76,000 3.3T tested here – that get the 19-inch dark grey alloy wheels, red Brembo brake calipers (four-piston front and two-piston rear), black grille and dark chrome highlights, rear diffuser, and dual exhaust outlets that really give this thing some real aggressive and athletic flair.
However, sitting inside the G70 is where it’s true age becomes apparent. Where the newer Genesis products feature touchscreen climate controls and glass rotary-dial shifters, the G70 features the same plastic knobs and buttons that do put you in mind of late-2010s Hyundai. Sure, there’s nothing that feels offensive in here, but it does show its age against rivals like the BMW 3 Series that have more crisp and modern cabins.
At least material quality beyond those plastics is right up there with the best of them, and this is something that’s fast becoming a Genesis hallmark. Sport models like this already score a suede headliner, ring polished aluminium trim inlays, and front bucket seats with heating and cooling as standard, but if you add on the rather hefty $10,000 Luxury package fitted to my tester, you’ll also nab quilted Nappa leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and rear seats, and 16-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat as well.
Your $10,000 gets you more than just a few comfort items, though, with it also adding a 12.3-inch digital 3D gauge cluster, a head-up display, a power-operated boot lid, and a 15-speaker Lexicon audio system. If you can justify the extra spend, I’d go for it, as it does do as good a job of bringing the G70 up-to-date as you could hope – although the new 10.25-inch Genesis-specific infotainment system that replaces the old 8.0-inch Hyundai unit does a decent enough job of that alone.
My other criticism of this cabin – as is the case with many sedans in this class – is that while it’s perfectly spacious and comfortable for those up front, there’s not nearly enough room in the back of the thing. One of the duties this G70 saw during my time with it was playing a backup role in a friend’s wedding (congratulations again, Lisa and Matt!) for carting around the groom and two groomsmen, of which I was one, and it’s safe to say that trying to fit even three six-foot-plus blokes in this was a squeeze, so you’ll want to move up to the G80 if adequate rear legroom is a regular requirement.
But then, it’s clear that the G70 is a car really centred around the driver’s needs as even a quick skim through the spec sheet will attest. While the base engine is a fairly class-competitive 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder with 179kW and 353Nm, what this 3.3T Sport is packing is something its rivals could only dream of offering for the money.
The same 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 from the Kia Stinger, it develops 274kW at 6000rpm (up 2kW thanks to a new bi-modal exhaust system) and 510Nm from 1300-4500rpm – enough power to see it rival the likes of the BMW M340i for a staggering $23,900 less when working off base prices.
Backed by an in-house eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive, as with all Australian-spec G70 models, Sport models like this also score a limited-slip differential. Clearly, it’s got all the right gear, as with the aid of launch control, it’ll get from 0-100km/h in a truly brisk 4.7 seconds.
It’s the torque that really makes this engine feel most impressive. It might not be quite as grunty as the 3.5-litre donk being fitted to the new-gen Genesis models, but in this smaller, lighter, and tighter chassis, it packs an impressive enough punch to make it the fastest model in the marque’s arsenal statistically – and that certainly translates when it comes to the seat-of-your-pants feeling it delivers.
Let the boost build up and it just hunkers down and tortures the 255-wide rear Michelins with its constant barrage of twisting force, with what is now a decent-enough soundtrack to match the visceral feeling as it rockets forward. The transmission gets the best out of it as well – its shifts might not be as crisp as the ZF 8HP that still sets the standard, but it’s still a smooth and responsive unit with well-spaced gearing, and you’ll never be left cursing at it for making a misstep.
But what’s really most impressive with the G70 beyond its power is the chassis that manages to handle it. While this class of compact executive sedans is home to some truly impressive rear-wheel drive chassis, such as the Jaguar XE, the G70 truly can go toe-to-toe with the best of them.
The steering feel is substantial and responsive, the control of lateral movement is superb, and thanks to its tight limited-slip diff it’s incredibly easy to get it hanging out sideways with incredible control while it’s there on the limit. Perhaps this ability is uncanny, given how much of a drift missile the Stinger is, but the shorter wheelbase makes the G70 feel even livelier and lighter on its toes than the more deliberate and gradual dynamics of the Kia. Truthfully, it feels how the Stinger should’ve.
Given this is still a luxury car in aim as much as it is a performance flagship, though, the G70 still delivers pretty impressive ride quality despite the chassis’ stiffness. The steering remains light and easy, and the big bent six is a docile and refined power plant when wafting around town as well, so you really do get the best of both worlds here.
To touch on the more practical side of things for a moment, it’s worth mentioning that it shouldn’t be a headache to own in the long run, either. Unlike some luxury marques that have remained resistant to offering a five year warranty, Genesis happily offers one with unlimited mileage coverage in that time, and you score five years of complimentary servicing with it as well.
Factor in that even at $86,000 as tested for this fully-loaded top spec model it remains incredibly good value for money against the competition given the performance and features, there are perhaps only two things I can see being a barrier for entry to buying one.
The first of those is that Genesis currently only has test drive centres in Sydney and Melbourne, so if you’re anywhere else in the country – as even I am in Adelaide – you’ll have to take my word for just how good this thing is. But secondly, and more than just that, the chances are that many people shopping in this category might not even know that this is out there, so low is the Genesis brand awareness among the general public to this day. After all, if you do buy one of these you’ll have to get used to telling people, “no, it’s not a Bentley.”
Us enthusiasts ought to know by now, though, that Hyundai’s luxury arm has a truly compelling product on offer here. It might not fly under the radar and be as universally accepted as a BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, or Merc C-Class, but if you want something that’s more of a conversation piece – or something that only you know about as being the best value performance buy in the class right now – the Genesis absolutely should not be passed up.
2022 Genesis G70 3.3T Sport RWD List Price: $76,000 | As Tested: $86,000
- Performance - 9/109/10
- Ride & Handling - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech & Features - 9/109/10
- Practicality - 7.5/107.5/10
- Value for Money - 8.5/108.5/10
Pros: Absolute bargain when you consider the performance and features list, incredibly adept and lively chassis, new infotainment system is a big step up, delivers best-of-both-worlds comfort and aggression
Cons: Interior feels dated in areas, $10,000 is a big step up for the Luxury pack, tight back seat, low brand awareness
In a nutshell: If you’re in the know as to what Genesis is all about and this is the segment and price point you’re shopping in, I’ve no idea why the 2022 G70 isn’t already on your shopping list. The blend of luxury and performance for the money is unbeatable in my eyes, and the overall package is incredibly well executed.
Principal photography by Marcus Cardone. Additional photography by Patrick Jackson.
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Genesis Motors Australia for a week with a full tank of fuel. All additional fuel costs were covered by the author.