It seems almost odd to be talking about a Genesis as a brand rather than a car. What started as the Hyundai Genesis has quickly spun off into its own marque, starting with the G90 in 2015, then the G80 in 2016. The most recent Genesis to arrive in the United States, the G70, is the smallest and sportiest of the Korean automaker’s luxury brand and is designed to take on such powerhouses as the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class.
Perhaps not at all surprising is the fact that Genesis as a brand has succeeded in a market segment that’s been shrinking for the past several years. Sedans aren’t what people buy, and yet when a Sedan is purchased, it’s usually a Genesis.
How did Genesis do it? The same way Hyundai and Kia invaded the same space typically dominated by Toyota and Honda: they offered a quality product for a cheaper price.
It also helped to look the part, too. Credit Hyundai with snatching former VW-group design director Peter Schreyer for that one. Schreyer was responsible for overseeing designs from Bentley, Lamborghini, and Audi during his time at VW, which might explain why the Genesis brand, and more specifically the G70, shares an awful lot of its aesthetic with modern Audis.
We’ll get back the G70’s Audi-like looks later, but for now let’s talk power. The G70 comes with your choice of 2.0-L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with 252 hp and 260 lb-ft, or 3.3-L twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft (a 2.2-L turbodiesel is available in Europe and Asia, but not America). A 6-speed manual is available with the 2.0-L engine, but otherwise power is routed through an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters behind the wheel. Rear-wheel-drive is standard, but all-wheel-drive is available for a little extra.
You might remember those engines from the Kia Stinger, the other Korean sedan that’s been taking the world by storm. The G70 also shares a platform with the Stinger, along with much of its mechanical parts. Consider the G70 almost a rebadged Stinger, which helps to explain the G70’s sportiness.
Also helping that sportiness is a mechanical limited-slip rear differential and Brembo brakes on the larger engined model.
What extra bits you get on your G70 depends on which package you decide to opt for, but even the base-level 2.0-L turbo G70 comes with a ton of standard features. Stuff like automatic high beams, 12-way power adjustable driver seat, and 18-inch alloy wheels are all standard, as is a cavalcade of driver assistance features like lane keeping, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic collision warning, forward collision-avoidance with pedestrian detection and emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control are all standard on any G70 you buy.
Moving up to 3.3-L twin-turbo engine or the Elite package adds rain-sensing wipers, power folding auto-dimming side mirrors, heated/vented front leather seats, power telescoping steering wheel, a sunroof, and a 15-speaker Lexicon audio system. Moving up to the 2.0T Dynamic or 3.3T Elite package gives the G70 a heads-up display, wireless charging pad, surround-view monitor, microsuede headliner, and larger 19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
The Sport package adds grey cross-stitching, alloy pedals, and fancy exterior and interior accents.
All these features are great, but meaningless if the car doesn’t look good. Luckily, Genesis managed to snag a former Audi design chief to create the G70, which sort of explains a lot. The interior of the G70 is plush and modern with features that seem distinctly modeled after an Audi A4 or RS7.
That’s not a bad thing, mind you--Audis have been touted as some of the best interiors in the business, and there are enough differences that nobody is going to sue. But the Audi origins are definitely clear with just a single glance at the dashboard.
In the center is an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen while a 7-inch display sits between the instrument gauges behind the steering wheel. Menus are easily navigable and quick to respond to input. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both come standard.
Perhaps the best part of the Genesis G70 is the price. Starting at $34,900 for a 2.0-L turbo, 8-speed automatic, RWD sedan, the G70 beats everything else in its price range in terms of standard features and power. It almost verges on the side of more affordable family sedans. In order to push the G70 over $50,000, you’d need to opt for the 3.3-L twin-turbo V6 model with AWD and the Sport package, which basically comes with everything.
At base, the G70 is thousands of dollars less than a similar BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. At top tier, the G70 is tens of thousands less than a similar Mercedes C-Class. Admittedly, the Mercedes might come with more autonomous driving software, but it’s hard to justify paying that much more for some fancy driving AI.
The only thing working against the Genesis G70 is the power of the brand. When entering the world of luxury, names can carry more weight--and therefore a higher price--than anything else. That’s why fashion brands like Gucci and Armani can charge ten times the price for a same-quality shirt.
But Hyundai is playing the long game. Gucci and Armani didn’t become luxury brands overnight, and neither did their German counterparts like BMW and Mercedes. It took years of producing quality cars to achieve their status, and Genesis is well on their way to breaking into a segment few carmakers can.
The G70 is just one step on their road to greatness.