Genesis has a bit of a tough job here. Not only is it a relatively new brand in a country slow to accept change, bit it’s also up against a rival that’s recently rediscovered its groove. This is the Genesis G70 2.0T Sport, and it wants you to take it for a test drive before you buy your next BMW 330i. It’s also here for those who are keen on a plush small-mid-sized sedan who don’t care to pay for something with a properly sporting engine.
As a trade-off between budget and a premium experience, the $63,300 Sport trim might be the pick in the four-pot G70 range, supplying a few of the goodies from its twin-turbo V6 siblings. Our test car was also fitted with an optional $2500 sunroof for a $65,800 as-tested price. That still leaves it short of its Bavarian rival without skimping on standard kit.
As part of the Sport trim, a limited-slip differential, a set of Brembo brakes (350mm fronts, 4-piston; 340mm rears, twin-piston), Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, and 19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels are all snagged from the top end of the G70 range. A ‘dark chrome’ exterior styling package also smokes up all the metal for a more modern attitude, while some sporting trim makes it into the cabin in the form of coloured stitching, stainless steel pedals, and a rather optimistic 300km/h speedo.
It’s inside where the Genesis’ most relevant benefits are, and the amelioration of the Hyundai Motor Group’s build quality over the years is most evident. From the driver’s seat, much of what is visible and within reach seems properly premium, with leather and real aluminium adorning what is otherwise a fairly straightforward cabin design.
There are nice touches, like the way the leather-wrapped dash looks extended over to the passenger side, but there are also some interior sins. Primarily one other premium brands are also guilty of, borrowing from the base model. Just as some Lexus have economy Toyota stalks behind the wheel, the G70 has the same infotainment screen as the likes of the Hyundai i30, and disheartening to a lesser extent is the fact its gearshift and surrounds are almost straight from the Kia Stinger.
These facts don’t necessarily make the G70 any less a good car – most people who buy one won’t care what the inside of a Stinger looks like – and they’ll probably just use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay anyway, but if you’re up against the Euros, Hyundai and Kia parts probably won’t cut it.
Fortunately, the Genesis happens to be rather delightful to drive, something very much useful for taking the fight to the current 3 Series. Its comfortable steering and well-tuned fixed suspension are both bang on what they need to be for the type of driving the G70 is built for, while Sport mode adds a little weight (but not too much) into the steering. Okay, it’s no handling dynamo in terms of the chassis, and communication from the road is muted somewhat in favour of a plush ride, but the G70 isn’t built to be a sports car regardless of the trim level’s name.
The engine itself also contributes enough, falling short of the BMW 330i’s 190kW and 400Nm but still with its own respectable 179kW/353Nm, the turbo four and its 8-speed torque converting friend manage to keep the G70 moving out of corners with enough pace to have fun if the mood strikes. It’s not the most characterful, but the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 can be had for less than $10K more.
If the Hyundai i30 N was the first time Korea really took on the hot hatch world, the G70 is the first time it’s put up a proper fight in the premium sedan market, and it’s got what it takes to lure those who might otherwise go to one of its German rivals.
Hyundai Genesis G70 2.0T specs
Engine 1998cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power 179kW @ 6200rpm
Torque 353Nm @ 1400rpm
0-100km/h 5.9sec (claimed)
Weight 1630kg • price $63,300
Like: Well-judged suspension and steering; comfort to cash ratio; Genesis owner perks
Dislike: It’s no powerhouse; Kia/Hyundai bits; interior not as stylish as rivals