This is what a winner looks like.
It was for one car some 14 months or so ago.
All eyes were on this premium sports compact sedan from Hyundai's luxury brand. The Genesis G70 was snagging every award available. Motor Trend gave it their prestigious Car of The Year while the jury of journalists followed it up with their North American Car of The Year.
The G70 was on a winning streak. And, people wanted a winner. At first, it was tough to get one. Ask any Hyundai dealer in the USA and you got one of two answers: "We don't sell Genesis models here." Or, "we're waiting for our first shipment of G70s to come. Would you like to be contacted when one comes in?"
Tom Petty once sang that "the waiting was the hardest part." It was, but was it worth it? In 2019, 11,901 G70s made it to their patient customers. They sold just 409 the year before, over two months of sales. There are now over 12,000 G70s on the road – which is still below the number of IS sedans sold by Lexus in 2019 alone.
This is astounding because (a) it won the major awards of 2019 and (b) the G70 is really a very good car.
Why do I think the G70 is a good car? First of all, consider what it is up against. The Lexus IS sedan is the primary rival from the same continent, but it is clearly showing its age. The Europeans rule the segment, lead by the newest version of the BMW 3-Series. The icon certainly has grown but may have gone soft. That is, if you have driven the M340i variant – even with the lack of a third pedal at the astonishment from its loyal enthusiasts.
These reasons alone, amongst many, are why the Genesis G70 found itself the talk of the car world.
After my turn working with a 2020 G70 3.3T Sport, I can say that the accolades were rightfully earned. It is a handsome, compelling sedan designed to stir the fanboys away from their Germanic, Italian, and Japanese rides. It is distinctive, giving off the vibes necessary for a class in its class. You can't deny that six-sided mesh-like grille up front is its sexiest feature.
While the outside is quite compelling, the interior is what will win you over. The level of quality in materials is top notch, including the details on some of the controls. You probably thought you were driving a Mercedes-Benz…until you notice a few things in the cabin.
For starters, anyone who have worked with recent Hyundai models may recognize a few readouts, screens, and controls. Not to diminish the parent brand, but there is an expectation that a luxury car should have its own identity and style inside and out. My thought is simple: It works extremely well to be a part of this premium sports sedan. And, Genesis pulls this off without referencing any branding from Hyundai itself.
The seats are very supportive and focused on drivers. And, yet, I felt I was a bit too big for them. I am not the best example of humanity, being tall, somewhat wide, with a tall torso for my height and girth. I should feel competent enough to sit behind the wheel for some time – whether it is a grocery run or a run into the countryside.
I do fear anyone who tries to sit behind me in the rear seat. I found this to be true with a lot of premium sports compact sedans – not much in rear seat space. Some may argue that all you need are two people up front. That somehow defeats the purpose of a sedan.
I'm sure that if everyone was smaller than I – in every way possible – you can fit four such people inside of the G70. Plus, up to 10.5 cubic feet of trunk space.
My tester had the 365-horsepower 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6, which is one high-powered motor. You can get a turbocharged four-cylinder with a six-speed manual gearbox, but the V6 will win you over. The performance is fluid, and the shifts from the eight-speed automatic match the revs very well. My tester had all-wheel-drive, which is great for places like up here in Minnesota. Though, I would prefer a winter tire to manage some of the conditions out there. In the summer, the G70 would be a beast!
As for fuel economy, I only managed 21.9 MPG. I sort of expected it, but I would rather have better. That's just me.
The handling mix was terrific, even with my reservations on tire choice for winter conditions. With five drive modes to choose from, Sport will give the driver the quickest of reflexes and the flattest of cornering. On the flip side, Sport mode firms up the ride quality that can make the worst roads even worse. It is probably best to switch to Smart mode and save your sanity at the same time. This mode gives you the best of everything – a complete balance that satisfies the soul.
The G70's steering is sharp and precise. In Sport and Smart modes, the on-center feel is direct and the feel is heavy, exactly how I want my premium sports compact sedan to behave. Braking is good, though there is a bit of hesitation if you're touching the pedal lightly. A slightly harder touch will give the Brembo braking system a quicker response and superb stopping power.
Most importantly, the G70 has a good set of bones. The one thing in a car of its class and stature must have is a solid foundation that is dialed in along with the components attached to it. Therefore, the G70 is engineered and constructed to ensure an extraordinary driving experience. I definitely agree with that!
The G70 lineup starts at $35,450 for a turbocharged four-cylinder model with manual transmission and rear-wheel-drive. My twin-turbocharged V6-powered all-wheel-drive Sport tester came with a sticker price of $53,245.
The pricing is sound, but what about the buying experience. Remember when I talked about getting G70s into their selective showrooms. It is one thing to find an inventory of them, but whom should you talk to? The signage looks temporary, and one would hope that Genesis would create a showroom experience across its USA network soon, as the lineup grows and earns more accolades.
When you do secure a G70, I have a good feeling you will be enjoying it thoroughly. Just make sure you find one, first, and see if you can fit behind the wheel. If they both work out, simply take one home.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Hyundai Motor America
All photos by Randy Stern