2019 Genesis G70 Review
Before the current surge in popularity of SUVs, the high-volume sellers among luxury brands were, more often than not, their compact premium sedans, such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, and Lexus ES. These are the models that historically drove a lot of the traffic to luxury brand showrooms.
So, when Hyundai Motor Co. (Hyundai) conceived its upstart luxury brand Genesis a few years ago, it first set out to establish luxury segment credibility with a trio of sedans. For 2017, it was the flagship G90, in 2018 the mid-lux G80, and for the 2019 model year, the G70 debuted as its compact offering.
Genesis has announced that its model lineup will swell to six entries by 2021, which will more than likely include SUVs and crossovers in various sizes. But in the meantime, with no shiny SUVs as of yet in its showrooms, we’ll concentrate on the latest addition to the line, the G70.
For this review, we evaluated a 2019 Genesis G70 3.3T rear-drive model equipped with the Elite ($1,750) and Prestige ($2,500) packages. The total added up to $48,995, including the $995 destination charge.
What Owners Say
Before we discuss the results of our 2019 Genesis G70 evaluation, it’s helpful to comprehend who the typical buyer is for this compact premium sedan. Introduced in late 2018, the G70 is too new to be included in the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM but we can look at compact premium car buyers as a group. This includes compact premium cars the G70 competes with such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A4, among others.
According to J.D. Power data, compact premium car buyers are mostly men (68%) and in their peak earning years. Nearly half (46%) of the buyers of compact premium cars are Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1964). The next largest chunk of buyers (23%) for this segment are Gen Xers, born 1965-1976. Just 1% of compact premium car buyers are from Gen Z (1995 and later), and only 11% are Pre Boomers (born in 1945 or earlier).
Median household income for the Compact Premium Car segment is $151,531.
Buyers say their favorite aspects of their compact premium car are acceleration and engine responsiveness, engine smoothness and sound quality, transmission smoothness, front and rear styling, vehicle handling, the sound quality of hands-free calls, and the ease of using voice recognition.
Buyers indicate the least favorite attributes of their compact premium car are (less than expected) fuel economy and driving range, interior sound insulation, and audio system sound quality, ride harshness, exterior paint appearance, and interior material quality.
What Our Expert Says
In the sections that follow, our expert provides his own assessment of how the 2019 Genesis G70 performs in each of the 10 categories that comprise the 2018 U.S. APEAL Study.
The G70 is the smallest of the three Genesis luxury sedans, encapsulating the same well-tailored long-hood, short-deck proportions, sloping roof, deeply scalloped flanks, and short overhangs of its midsize G80 and full-size G90 flagship stablemates. Particularly attractive is the G70’s well-proportioned chrome-mesh “crest” grille, although a clear-plastic protective cover for the car’s forward-facing radar sensor in the upper center of the meshwork looks like an afterthought. LED running lamps and tail lamps and—on upper trim levels, full LED headlamps—give the G70 a high-tech appearance. The car definitely has curb appeal and looks expensive.
As a newcomer to the compact premium car segment, Genesis was able to study what has worked and not worked for its competitors, and the G70 product planners definitely did their homework. The G70 looks as though Genesis has considered the best aspects of the interior design of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Lexus premium sedan entries and applied them in just the right proportions.
Particularly in the upper trim levels, the G70 cabin displays an inviting canvas of shapes, colors, and textures. Material quality looks and feels as if it’s been taken from a more expensive car, all soft-touch and low-gloss. The dash design is clean and uncluttered, free of gimmicks. Interior sound levels are calming with road and wind noise hardly noticeable and just a touch of engine growl at wider throttle openings. This is a very welcoming interior that should disappoint no one shopping for a compact premium sedan.
How you may feel about the G70’s seats depends on whether you’re luxuriating in the front buckets or squeezed into the sedan’s 60/40 split rear bench. In this regard, the G70’s rear seat is really no worse than that of its major European competitors. But rear legroom is in short supply in the G70, and if the rear passengers are 6-ft.-tall adults, the front seats will have to be scootched forward a bit to accommodate the aft denizens.
The G70’s heated and power-operated front seats are generously bolstered, but not painfully so. Support is where you want it, with no hard wings to slide over or press into tender body parts. Although faux leather is standard in the base G70 trim, real hides come with mid-level Advanced trim and the topline Prestige version adds softer Nappa leather with luxurious-looking quilting and contrasting color piping.
The Advanced and Prestige trims also come with ventilated front seats, directing subtle, pleasant zephyrs of freshness to one’s lower torso on a hot, sweaty summer day.
Climate Control System
Standard on the G70 is a dual-zone automatic, set-and-forget climate control system. Three easy-to-use knobs accomplish pretty much everything you might want to do without having to scroll through distracting menus or repeatedly tap up or down arrows to adjust something. And they are big enough to operate with a gloved hand. The seat heaters and (on upper trims) front-seat ventilation controls are right there, nestled between the meaty knobs.
As with the G90 and G80, the Genesis G70 dispenses with the more complicated remote controller wheel or mouse interface systems found in most premium compact sedan competitors in favor of a simple dashtop 8-in. touch screen, single bank of hard shortcut buttons, and a pair of analog volume and tuning knobs. The system requires less eyes-off-the-road time to operate and I find it less distracting to use than many competitor’s systems. Navigation is standard on Advanced and higher trims.
Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity bring your cellphone’s main screen tiles to the car’s big screen. There are 3 USB outlets, two up front and one at the rear of the center console. Even if you’re not a streaming fan, the standard 6-speaker AM/FM audio system with satellite radio and HD Radio provides a satisfying listening experience. Audiophiles, however, will want to experience the deeply immersive surround-sound 15-speaker Lexicon premium audio system, standard in up-level trims, that includes Clari-Fi music-restoration technology. If you ever wanted to know what the words to the 1960’s Kingsmen hit, “Louie, Louie” were, this may be your best shot.
Storage and Space
The G70’s short rear deck hides a smallish trunk, just 10.5 cu. ft. in size. That’s less trunk space than offered in some G70 competitors. The G70’s 60/40 split fold-down rear seat does open up space, however, for longer items.
In the cabin, stash space is no better or worse than competitors such as the BMW 3 series or C-Class, with a medium-size glovebox, console storage compartment, and door bins the main repositories. There is also a small tray ahead of the shifter that also houses a wireless charger for Qi-enabled devices on upper trims.
Most drivers will consider the back seat to be a convenient storage area for larger items such as groceries and packages. There are three LATCH child-seat anchors for the rear seat as well, however the middle rear seat has only an upper tether and no lower anchor and the lower anchors for the outboard seats are hard to reach and latch easily.
Visibility and Safety
The G70 offers average outward visibility for the class, with the view out the back reduced by the sharply sloping back glass and trio of rear-seat head restraints. A reversing camera is standard, upgraded to an overhead surround-view display on Prestige trim that gives the driver a virtual overhead view of the G70 and its immediate surroundings. The driver can choose between standard and wide-angle rearward views, or views that detail the terrain to the right or left of the vehicle. Elite trim adds front and rear parking-assist sensors that beep with increasing frequency as the distance to impact approaches.
Unlike some European brands that make advanced safety systems optional, the G70 includes them as standard fare. All trims include semi-autonomous systems such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane-keeping assist, and forward-collision avoidance with pedestrian detection. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring as well as automatic high-beam control and a driver-attention warning system are also standard.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet tested the G70 for crashworthiness. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has and given the Genesis G70 a “2019 Top Safety Pick Plus” rating with “Good” scores for small- and moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, seats, head restraints, and headlamp performance.
As with its European competitors, the Genesis G70 is available with a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder power. The 252-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is plenty perky and teamed with a seamless-shifting 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. The 6-speed manual’s shifter, however, has fairly long throws, and clutch engagement feels vague; overall, the manual gearbox G70 doesn’t function at the same high degree of sophistication as the car’s chassis dynamics.
The 365-horsepower, turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 lacks the manual-transmission option but feels right at home with the 8-speed automatic. The turbo V-6, shared with the Genesis G80, G90, and Kia Stinger, will accelerate to 60 mph from rest in less than 5 seconds in the lighter G70, according to the automaker. The 8-speed automatic’s console-mounted electronic shifter is easy enough to use as long as you remember the separate Park button on the console and to click the shifter forward for Reverse, backward for Drive.
Cold-weather inhabitants will appreciate that Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive (AWD) is available in the otherwise rear-drive G70 with either the 4- or 6-cylinder engine. AWD is not, however, configurable with the 6-speed manual gearbox.
During my week with the G70 3.3T Prestige, observed average fuel economy varied from as low as 16.2 mpg when exploring the sport sedan’s lively turbo V-6 and sporting chassis to a high of 26 mpg. The latter figure was achieved in stop-and-go residential driving using the console-selectable Eco mode that gives early upshifts. Interestingly, the G70 3.3T does not employ a start/stop system that shuts off the engine at stoplights as found in many European competing models.
EPA estimates are 22/30 mpg (city/highway) for the 4-cylinder automatic and 18/26 mpg for the V-6 automatic. Estimates for the manual 4-cylinder and all AWD variants are slightly lower.
The G70’s compact size and lively demeanor make it the sportiest offering in the Genesis brand’s sedan lineup. All rear-drive turbo V-6 models roll on 19-in. wheels and performance tires and are equipped with sport-tuned suspension, limited-slip rear differential, and confidence-inspiring Brembo brakes.
The rack-mounted electric-boosted power steering is nicely weighted and pleasantly communicative and body motions are well-damped while effectively tamping harsh road inputs. This is a fun car to drive quickly, particularly with the 3.3-liter turbo V-6 at full snarl, but it doesn’t forget its primary mission of luxurious motoring. You won’t, either.
Looking at compact premium sedan buyer data, it’s clear Hyundai did its homework, endowing the Genesis G70 with the engine responsiveness, handling, styling, and infotainment features those buyers value most. The G70 offers a lot of bang for the buck, equipping the sedan with an extensive list of standard comfort, convenience, safety, and driver-assistive features that are often extra cost on competing models.
The brand’s 5-year/60,000-mile vehicle warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty are tops in the segment. On top of that, the Genesis Experience add-ons of 3 year’s worth of complimentary maintenance, service visit valet calls, and connected services make the G70 a compelling addition to the segment.
The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.
No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power