2019 Genesis G70 First Drive

A Sport Sedan From Korea Designed to Take on Germany's Best

Hyundai launched its Genesis luxury brand in late 2015 with two models: the midsize G80 sedan and the G90 flagship sedan. Both were previously sold as Hyundais, so there was some confusion at first, especially since the G80 was previously called the Genesis.

Now, nearly two years later, the Genesis brand and its two sedans have established themselves as something distinctly different from Hyundai. The midsize G80 offers a balance of performance and value that makes it highly competitive with its European and Japanese competition, while the full-size G90 has the presence and feel of a no-expenses-spared luxury sedan.

The introduction of the 2019 Genesis G70 sedan is the next big step in the brand's evolution. Designed and engineered as a Genesis from the very beginning, the G70 is an entry-level luxury sport sedan aimed directly at the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Without a legendary name to lean on, the G70 will have to make a name for itself with a combination of performance, comfort, and bang for the buck that make it hard to ignore.

2019 Genesis G70

How the G70 Stacks Up
With such clearly defined competition, it's no surprise the G70 follows a familiar formula. It's a rear-wheel-drive sedan with optional all-wheel drive and a choice of two different engines: a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or an optional 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V6. Both engines send their power through a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, although a manual transmission might be available on some U.S. models.

Final horsepower figures have not been certified yet, but expect about 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque from the base engine and 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque from the V6. Genesis says the V6 is good for a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.7 seconds, a number that would make it one of the quicker sedans in the segment.

The G70 toes the line when it comes to size as well. Its overall length, width and height are within an inch or two of its German rivals. No interior specifications have been released yet, but the G70's wheelbase is nearly identical to that of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, so it should have similar levels of front and rear passenger room.

2019 Genesis G70

The Luxury Part of the Equation
As intent as the Genesis engineers were to replicate the size and performance of its peers, the G70's designers were equally intent on giving it a luxurious look and feel. The cabin uses a mix of high-quality leathers and metallic trim throughout, along with a range of colors that are far more interesting than your basic blacks and grays. There are also multiple seat patterns, including a quilted design that spills over to the door panels. Combined with contrasting colors for the stitching and seat piping, the G70 offers one of the most striking cabins in the sport sedan class.

There's a solid mix of new technology and classic controls that gives the interior a modern look without feeling overly complicated. Large analog gauges anchor the instrument panel that also houses a reconfigurable central information screen. An 8-inch touchscreen display sits on top of the dashboard for easy visibility and access, and the climate control system uses a simple three-dial setup that makes adjustments easy at a glance. The most complicated cluster of buttons is reserved for the steering wheel, although even those are logically placed and easy to reach.

As is customary for Genesis, the features list is long, with items such as heated and ventilated seats, a Lexicon audio system, and a full suite of active safety systems all available. The mix of standard and optional features is still being sorted for the U.S.-market version of the G70, so details such as trim levels and exact specifications won't be available until early next year. Given the value proposition offered on the current Genesis models, expect to see a healthy mix of features offered on even the base G70 to give it an edge over its German competitors.

2019 Genesis G70

Early Impressions Are Good
Our initial seat time in the Genesis G70 was limited to vehicles with all-wheel drive and the optional V6 engine, so it came as no surprise that the G70 felt responsive and quick. There was power to spare at nearly any speed, and the transmission was quick to grab a lower gear the deeper we dug into the gas pedal. Eight-speed automatics can sometimes get hung up trying to find just the right gear, but this one didn't feel overly busy. The steering felt particularly precise thanks to a variable ratio setup that's standard on V6 models. Small adjustments resulted in immediate responses, although there's less actual road feel than we would like.

Four drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart) are available via a center-console-mounted dial. Each mode has specific settings for the engine's sound, throttle calibration, transmission response, traction control, steering feel and all-wheel-drive power distribution. An electronically adjustable suspension system that further customizes the feel of the car is also optional.

Our test cars were set up according to Korean-market specifications, so the overall ride quality was on the softer side regardless of which setting was engaged. In Sport mode there was more body roll than expected, but Genesis engineers assured us that U.S.-spec cars will have a tighter, more precise feel. The G70's structure feels solid and more than capable of delivering on those promises. Cabin noise is also well-controlled, so the sound of the engine makes itself known in Sport or fades into the background in Comfort mode.

More Detail to Come
Sales of the G70 in the U.S. aren't expected to start until April, so final specs, options and pricing won't be available until sometime early next year. Until then, Genesis should feel confident about its prospects in the entry-level luxury sport sedan segment. The G70 delivers on all the qualities that makes these sedans so popular. It has a manageable size, a premium feel and more than enough power for those who demand it.

We don't expect it to displace its high-performance competition right out of the gate, and even the engineers at Genesis concede that the G70 is a luxury sedan first and a sport sedan second. That's a good starting point for a car that's going up against some of the most well-known brands and models in the luxury car industry. How far Genesis takes it from here will determine the success not only of the G70 but of the entire brand itself.

2019 Genesis G70