How do you define a sports sedan?
We all know how subjective answering this question will spur on many different definitions. I have my ideas of how I could answer it, but I know that I will never get any consensus or agreement on some sort of definition.
Should a sports sedan from one of the premium brands be rear-wheel drive biased? Should it have a pair of great engines – one for each step of performance a driver wants from it. Should it cater to enthusiasts only? Or, should we simply leave these cars for upwardly mobile, mid-level executives or entrepreneurs who only see the badge as a step towards fulfilling one’s ambitions?
Conventional wisdom usually points to a certain group of vehicles. The BMW 3-Series has been the ride of many enthusiasts and others who want something to conquer the office park. A Mercedes-Benz C-Class also serves the same purpose, except the enthusiast pool is not as present as in the case of the Roundel. The Lexus IS also offers a strong argument, but you can still hear the complaints about the infotainment system, while waiting for the V8-powered IS 500 to arrive into showrooms.
No, I have not ignored the Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, Cadillac CT5, Infiniti Q50, and Volvo S60 for the sake of this argument. They are relevant, but some will say “less so” than the BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus.
For this argument over defining what a sports sedan is or should be, may I present the 2022 Genesis G70?
When it first came out, it seemed that the contender from the Republic of Korea had this segment all figured it. It looked the part, drove with confidence, and is more affordable than some of its contenders. Just in a flash, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis may have cracked the code in this highly competitive and important segment of premium/luxury sports sedans.
However, Genesis was not satisfied. They went to work on a mid-cycle refresh of the G70 that would align with the brand’s current design language. They also did some shuffling with some content and features, as well.
The result is a more refined sports sedan. Something that might look like any other Genesis model, but it does not drive like them.
For example, the 2022 G70 has the moves you expect from a sports sedan. The sharp reflexes from the steering and suspension set-up enable for a quicker response during evasive maneuvers. It is a balanced ride that can be found in Sport mode, not some chiropractic challenge from a firmer set-up. In my tester there is a degree of play when you out into Sport+, where the traction control is turned off and your ability to use the Adaptive Cruise Control has been removed.
Even in Normal mode, the 2022 G70 is still playful. Yet, it has a serious side when you are just chillin’ with the cruise on at your desired highway speed. This sedan can be relaxed and poised. You could say that the 2022 G70 is a form of road-going therapy.
The specification on my tester is perhaps the most desirable among all 2022 G70 models. It starts with a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine. With 376 pound-feet of torque available between 1,300 and 4,500 RPM, this engine goes beyond mere motivation. There is a level of excitement that goes with depressing the throttle.
My tester continues with an eight-speed automatic transmission, sending power to the rear wheels. You can get this driveline with all-wheel drive, but enthusiasts will tell you that have the final drive at the rear axle is enticing. With the right set of tires – in this case, a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4s – you could do some serious hooning in this G70.
However, these Michelins are pretty sticky and provide the right amount of grip even if you do not want to get into trouble in this car.
The steering system’s sharp response is a welcomed change from the norm. The darty response also comes from a solid on-center feel. That feel is enhanced when you put it into Sport mode, and even more weight is added in Sport+ mode.
Brake pedal feel is good and responsive. I experienced great stops in normal and panic situations. There is something to be said about a set of confident brakes in a sports sedan.
The driving experience goes beyond just the mechanics of it all. You take command from a luxurious cockpit of bespoke metal finishes and a mix of white quilted leather upholstery and black finishes. The instrumentation is a mix of an analog speedometer and digital screens for the tachometer and vehicle information. I am glad this G70 had a head-up display to keep me focused on driving on this sporting machine.
I was also thoroughly entertained. The 15-speaker Lexicon audio system is powered from a 10.25-inch touchscreen. This serves as a hub for smartphone integration and navigation options. Plus, you can simply look at the home screen for inspiration on your drive.
The transmission is operated through a shift-by-wire T-Bar lever. This was a welcomed sight and certainly adds a bit more excitement to the driving experience. I know…"save the manuals"…but, hey, you do have paddles behind the steering wheel! They do come in handy when you’re playing (and slaying) around in Sport+ mode.
If there is a drawback, it would be the size of the cabin. If it was just me and someone else, then the G70 works just fine. The rear seat lacks legroom, even if the front seat occupants were about six-foot tall. Then again, there are plenty of vehicles in this class that have just as small in cabin space as in the G70 – in fact, they have already been named earlier in this article.
However, if it is just you, your friend/significant other/spouse, and your active pet (please make sure you have a cover to protect the upholstery of the back seat before you let said pet inside the back seat), then the cabin might not matter. It is what’s outside that will inspire you.
The horizontally-split LED headlamps, pronounced mesh shield grille, new trunk lid and similarly horizontally-split taillights all set the G70 apart from the crowd. It has become a serious looker with no design gimmicks. Adding these new brand elements to this overall exterior design just put the G70 out front of everyone else.
If there is one thing that will welcome you to the G70, it is the price. The sticker on this 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, rear-drive Sports Prestige model is $51,445. That’s a damn good price for something that offers a better driving experience than its main rivals. Pricing for the G70 starts at $37,525 with a choice of two engines, along with rear- or all-wheel drive.
If you ask me, the 2022 Genesis G70 is a damn good sports sedan! Full stop. I felt much better about this car through its the ease of operation and the responsiveness from the driving experience.
If you have not experienced this car, why haven’t you? It could change your mind about anything that it competes with.
I could make another audacious statement here to support what I experienced in the 2022 Genesis G70. I need to curb my enthusiasm for a bit. Just to only say how much this car may have changed my own perspective on vehicles in this highly competitive and important segment.
This could be your definition of a sports sedan.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Hyundai Motor America
All photos by Randy Stern