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Car Review: 2021 Genesis G70

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2020-11-27 Jil McIntosh
a car parked in a parking lot: 2021 Genesis G70 3.3T Sport © Provided by Driving.ca 2021 Genesis G70 3.3T Sport

Over the years, there’s been quite a shift in the sports sedan segment. At one time, if you wanted power and it’s-on-rails handling, you bought German, or you stayed home. Then the Japanese automakers got it together and turned out some sharp-n-tight cars.

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And now it’s Korea showing us how it’s done. Kia does it with its Stinger , while Genesis  — Hyundai’s standalone luxury brand — paves the way with the Stinger’s mechanical sibling, the G70 sedan. These two set standards for performance and at a reasonable price.

The G70 starts out with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, making 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It comes in three trim levels with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic, while stick-shift fans can get a six-speed manual sending power just to the rear, but not for much longer . Pricing starts at $43,000 for 2021, and the only difference from the 2020 model is that the entry-level Advanced trim level now adds standard LED headlamps. Genesis prices its vehicles all-in, with freight charges included. I was one step up with the G70 3.3T, making 365 horses and 376 lb-ft of torque (on premium fuel, with a slight power reduction if you pump in 87-octane gas) from its 3.3L twin-turbo V6. It comes only with AWD and the automatic, in Prestige trim at $56,000, or in my chart-topping $58,000 Sport tester.

Both come with staggered 19-inch wheels and Brembo brakes. The Sport adds Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires in place of all-seasons, a limited-slip differential, and adaptive suspension, along with sportier appearance cues and seats with adjustable bolsters — and they even tighten up when you put the drive mode into the sport setting.

The G70 is the entry in the overall Genesis lineup, but it’s certainly not a “base” model. It has all the right sports-sedan styling cues, with its swoopy roof, nicely-sized grille, smoked lights, and uncluttered rear end. But while styling is important, performance is everything and this is where the G70 really shines. The four-cylinder is fine , but this V6 is the ticket: acceleration is swift and linear, with the smoothness of a premium sedan, rather than the raw get-up-and-go from the Stinger. The eight-speed automatic does an exceptional job of keeping the engine in its sweet spot, and swaps gears quickly if you take over the task using the wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The steering is perfectly weighted, and the response is crisp and taut. Likewise, the chassis is perfectly tuned. It just begs to be tossed into a corner and then pulled back out again. It has the razor-sharp response of a German sports sedan, but it’s light and lithe like a Japanese version – the best of both worlds.

A sports sedan is meant to be a driver’s car, and in the G70, it’s the driver who’s going to be the most comfortable. The front-seat passenger will be as well, but you can pretty much forget about bringing any other friends along. Look up the dictionary definition of “tight space,” and there’s a picture of the G70’s cramped rear seat. But the rest of the interior is put together with considerable care, and the seats are comfortable and supportive, although I’m not entirely stuck on the red diamond stitching on the chairs and door panels, which are part of the Sport trim level. Grey stitching is also available, which might tone it down a bit.

As with too many premium vehicles these days, the G70 has one of those awful electronic shift levers, where you push forward for Reverse, and have to push a separate button for Park. There’s also a head-up display, but to adjust its height, you have to use the steering wheel buttons and move through a variety of commands in the instrument cluster. GM still rules the roost on this one, with a simple toggle button on the side of the dash.

But the rest of the G70’s controls are straightforward and easy. The centre touchscreen is an eight-inch tablet parked above the centre console, with dials and buttons for volumes and menus. Below that are big dials for the climate control, and buttons for the heated steering wheel, and for the heated and ventilated seats.

That’s exactly how I want controls to be, but sadly, that setup might work against the G70 with some buyers. The materials are top-notch, but the overall design is mindful of many Hyundai models, especially that top-mounted tablet. Premium-level buyers are used to larger screens integrated deep into the dash, and many of them seem to like far more convoluted ways of making things happen, such as through icons or with console-mounted touch pads.

Buying it is part of the premium experience, though. Genesis prices its vehicles all-in (plus tax and any provincial fees, such as tire stewardship) and there’s no haggling. If you’re within range of a dealer or agent — the full network is still being built — you can have the car brought to you to test-drive , and someone will bring the paperwork if you decide to buy. When the car needs maintenance or warranty work, someone picks it up, leaves you a loaner, and then brings it back when yours is done.

Genesis still faces a branding hurdle in a segment where a logo with rings or stars can be very important to buyers, but all of those worked their way up from a starting point, too. There has to be product to back up the name, and for driving delight with a reasonable price tag, the G70 certainly delivers.

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