by Gerhard Horn
The Genesis brand was developed to take on the German status quo. First, it went after large luxury sedans with the G90, but as the entry-level to Hyundai's premium brand, the 2021 Genesis G70 is meant to take on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series.
Some thought it unthinkable, but it seems to be working. We believe there are two reasons for this; the potent engine lineup featuring a turbocharged four-cylinder and a twin-turbo V6, and the impressive list of standard kit at more affordable prices.
The strategy has helped Genesis sell around 9,400 G70s in 2020, while Mercedes sold around 25,200 C-Class models. While it may still be some time before it is on equal footing with premium rivals, what was previously unthinkable is now at least a viable alternative.
A heavily revised G70 is coming later this year, so there are no significant changes, for now, apart from the deletion of the Sport trim from the four-cylinder range. The features that used to be included in the available Elite Package are now standard on all V6 models. These include a heated steering wheel, adaptive headlights, ventilated front seats, parking sensors front and rear, a wireless charging pad, and rain-sensing wipers.
The entry-level 2.0T has an MSRP of $36,500. If you want the G70 2.0T with a manual gearbox, you'll have to pay $39,100. A rear-wheel-drive 3.3 twin-turbo V6 retails for $46,700. Both models are available as all-wheel-drive configurations, which adds $2,000 to the bill. These Genesis G70 prices are MSRP and do not include the $1,045 destination fee in the US.
See trim levels and configurations:
The Genesis G70 is an accomplished city and freeway cruiser, but that's to be expected. Anyone who's driven a Hyundai will know that its engineers know how to do comfort. The soft ride, combined with the eerily silent cabin, comfortable seats, and generous standard luxury specification, makes the G70 an easy vehicle to live with.
But the sedan has a split personality that we really weren't expecting. When you push the Sport button, the steering and throttle become way more responsive. Even the base model has plenty of grip and a well-engineered chassis that feels neutral. The livelier 3.3 V6 comes with available adaptive damping, which enables it to take the fight straight to BMW without being laughed at.
The only oddity is a lack of noise, even in the Sport trim. Most sports sedans have butterfly valves in the exhaust, which open up when you're in the mood for spirited driving. The G70 remains quiet, and we'd be lying if we said it doesn't detract from the driving experience.
As a value for money offering, the G70 is a spectacular product. Usually, when a car is this much cheaper than its rivals, you expect to have to make certain sacrifices, but that's not the case here. As far as we can tell, there are only four significant criticisms you can level at the G70; the cheap infotainment system, sub-par fuel consumption, a lack of rear head- and legroom, and a small trunk.
It takes on the Europeans on two fronts. The 2.0T may not offer competitive performance, but it has a lot more standard features than its European rivals. The 3.3T may seem like a hefty investment, at over $7,000 more than its four-cylinder German rivals, but its performance more than makes up for it. At around $5,000 more than the four-cylinder turbocharged Germans, the 3.3T delivers the kind of performance that will leave them weeping on their bratwurst.
The base 2.0T is a lot of car, but we'd rather have the rear-wheel-drive V6-powered 3.3T. A G70 with all-wheel-drive is also a solid choice, but unless you need it, we wouldn't bother. The Sport trim helps the G70 look more aggressive, but we think it works best as a sleeper. A RWD 3.3T with the Prestige Package is around $50,000, and for that, you get absolutely everything, including all of the available safety options. That's roughly $9,000 more than the BMW 330i and the Mercedes-Benz C300. It seems steep, but to get similar performance from the Germans, you'd have to opt for the BMW M340i sedan ($54,700) or the Mercedes-AMG C43, which retails at $56,500. And that's before you start adding options.
As distant cousins, there's a lot of part-sharing going on between these two cars. They have the same engine and gearbox options and similar pricing. A top-spec Stinger GT2 costs just over $50,000, placing it toe-to-toe with a G70 3.3T with a Prestige Package.
There are noticeable differences, though. The Stinger is an all-around larger car, most notably in the wheelbase department. It has a 114.4-inch wheelbase, while the G70 makes do with 111.6 inches. This gives the Stinger more room on the inside, but not so much that it makes a big difference. The Stinger also looks sportier; though to drive, it's very similar to the G70. The latter is more of a sleeper, while Kia took the flamboyant approach. Choosing between the two boils down to design preference.
There is some overlap within the Genesis model lineup. A top-spec G70 with some added niceties is around $50,000. For that price, you can get a G80 with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 300 hp. It won't be as fast, but it's noticeably more prominent and even more luxurious. The G80 is also a head-turner of note, a handsome blend between the previous-generation S-Class and Bentley Flying Spur.
In base trim, it comes with ten airbags, intelligent cruise control, remote park assist, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Genesis Integration Controller. Leather is also standard and, overall, the interior has a more upmarket ambiance.
The choice boils down to a sporty G70 or a Genesis luxury barge. Considering that a heavily facelifted G70 is on the way, we'd go for the G80. Once the newer G70 arrives, the verdict might swing the other way.
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