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2020 Genesis G70 Review: Is More for Less Enough?

Auto123 reviews the 2020 Genesis G70.

Awards only get you so far. Not that Genesis will turn their noses up at the series of nods the G70 compact sedan has received from various organizations in its few years of existence. 2018 Good Design Award, 2019 North American Car of the Year, J.D. Power’s Best Initial Quality for 2019, an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, our own Auto123 Compact Car of the Year choice for 2019 and for 2020 – the list goes on.

That recognition that the Genesis G70 is a mighty fine car offered at a relatively affordable price for what it offers speaks for itself. But it doesn’t automatically translate into sales. More specifically, it takes a lot for motorists loyal to the German brands that dominate the premium-car segments to consider switching to… a Korean brand.

Specifications of the 2020 Genesis G70

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2020 Genesis G70, profile
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G70, profile

Uphill battle? Yes, definitely. But not impossible. Ask Lexus. Certainly you can’t fault Hyundai’s premium brand Genesis for lack of effort. The company also continues to show commendable stick-to-it-iveness when it comes to its sedans, this even though it has just presented its very first SUV, the GV80.

The 2020 Genesis G70 I drove for a week this spring is relatively unchanged from the 2019 edition; the model, remember, has only been around for three years. The biggest adjustment in fact is the addition of a new trim, the 3.3T Prestige version, which is what I had occasion to drive.

This version came into existence to meet demand among Genesis customers for a bigger engine that could be matched with the Prestige variant, more luxurious in its inclinations than the Sport AWD trim that previously was the only way to get the 3.3T unit. This engine produces 365 hp and up to 376 lb-ft of torque, more than enough punch to make this compact sedan go, in a hurry. All-wheel drive is standard on all versions offered in Canada.

2020 Genesis G7, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G7, three-quarters rear

The looks
This is a really handsome car, in my subjective view. The proportions seem perfectly calibrated and balanced, and that sumptuous, slightly coupe-like body is led by a large grille and piercing headlights that mean business; the whole thing sits snugly close to the ground. The model is set apart from the Sport version by two-tone wheels (instead of the Sport’s black ones), chrome elements and absence of details meant to attract the leather-glove-wearing sport-driving nuts.

Inside
Once you’ve gotten your eyeful checking out the G70’s gorgeous curves and place yourself inside, you’re welcomed by a premium interior the introduction to which is handled by very comfortable front-row seats.

2020 Genesis G7, seats
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G7, seats
2020 Genesis G7, interior
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G7, interior

The cabin design is relatively sparse for the category, and some might find that after a BMW experience this seems rather lacking in pizzazz. That may be so, but simplicity has its upside. Sure, the interior has slightly less of a premium feel than a Beemer or a Mercedes, but nothing feels cheap, and that simplicity when applied to the multimedia system is most welcome – it’s the anti-Volvo system, if you will.

That said, the screen is, at 8 inches, almost small when compared to others in the category, so if size matters RE your infotainment needs, that will constitute a disappointment. Still, though, Genesis also makes like Hyundai in providing several redundant buttons that allow you to access certain basic controls when you don’t feel like engaging with the screen. Which, if you’re like me, is actually pretty often.

Value
Otherwise, Genesis has done what it has since its beginnings - and Hyundai has done for years now – and that is to pack a lot of features in for the money. The Prestige, being the most luxurious model in the product offering, gets the works. That includes standard leather, head-up display, heated seats in both rows and vented front seats, a premium 15-speaker audio system and more.

2020 Genesis G7, dashboard
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G7, dashboard

Safety-wise, you get the expected: emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic assist, automatic high beams, lane-keep assist, etc. More notable is that it all comes at no extra cost in this version.

The drive
Start the engine and you’re seduced by a sound that’s electronically enhanced, but so subtly that you don’t even mind being sold an “artificial” experience. And once in motion, you appreciate the sporty calibration of this luxury car. The steering is taut and crisp, and I never once felt any unwanted loosey-gooseyness when changing direction, either slightly or a lot.

There are, if you feel like exercising more control over the car’s behaviour, paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel, but given that the 8-speed automatic transmission works so smoothly and competently, it isn’t really a net plus to start tapping them, in terms of the driving dynamics. Shifting into Sport mode is all you need to maximize the fun, really. When you do that the transmission holds each gear long enough for increased high-rev sensations and a few other parameters are tightened up.

2020 Genesis G7, front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G7, front

Acceleration is, as mentioned, extremely impressive, and matched at the other end of the motion spectrum by Brembo brakes that bite like there’s no tomorrow when it comes time to tame the G70’s inertia.

Truly, the G70, interior tameness notwithstanding, drives like a sport sedan. That the car fits that bill more than that of a true family car is evident when you sit in the back row of seats. There’s not a ton of space in back, and you’ll be wary of inviting passengers 3 and 4 along on an extended road trip. Nor is there much room in the trunk for more than basic gear. That’s the price you pay for the beautiful coupe-style exterior lines of the G70…

Pricing
At $56,000, the 2020 G70 3.3T Prestige sits on the second rung of a price scale that starts at $42,000 for the base model with 2.0L turbo engine, itself already quite well-equipped. Above sits only the 3.3T Sport, at $58,000. Regardless of which version you take, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better value in the category.

Except, of course, if you take into account the weaker brand equity Genesis benefits from in comparison with the established German models. What that means, in a nutshell, is that you can’t take to the bank the value of your new Genesis after a few years of ownership the same way you can with a BMW, Mercedes or Audi, or even a Lexus. In another nutshell, it means the G70 doesn’t have much hope of winning over status-conscious buyers in love with the message the Silver Star, four rings or double-kidney grille sends.

A note regarding the 2021 edition of the G70, recently announced by Genesis Canada: as the year is moving rapidly along, Genesis told us stocks on the 2020 edition are actually running low, and consumers will start to look at the 2021 G70 when visiting a Genesis store, either in person or online. Know that the new model-year is essentially a carryover, and the base model is priced starting at $43,000. The 3.3T Prestige and Sport trims remain at $56,000 and $58,000 respectively.

2020 Genesis G7, front wheel
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G7, front wheel

Conclusion
Resale value? That's for later, and this is now, and if you’re not trying to impress, then so what. Here, what you get is a solidly premium, well-equipped sport sedan that, especially with this G70 3.3T Prestige version’s V6, goes like the wind, floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee when you push it to its full potential. And looks and sounds good doing it.

We like

Driving dynamics
Comfortable seats
Quality interior finishing
Overall value
A real looker

We like less

Small trunk
Cramped back row
Some will find the interior dull
Multimedia screen could be bigger
Brand equity still hurts it

The competition

Acura TLX
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Audi A4
BMW 3 Series
Infiniti Q50
Lexus IS
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Volvo S60

2020 Genesis G7, three-quarters front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G7, three-quarters front

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2020 Genesis G70
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Photos:D.Boshouwers
2020 Genesis G70 pictures