Genesis G70 proves Hyundai’s sedan intentions

John Gilbert

In only its second year, the 2020 Genesis G70 shows off its style against Duluth's Aerial Bridge, and is loaded with high-tech features, luxury and a sporty flair. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
In only its second year, the 2020 Genesis G70 shows off its style against Duluth's Aerial Bridge, and is loaded with high-tech features, luxury and a sporty flair. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
Stylish nose and black-chrome grille give G70 distinctive look. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
Stylish nose and black-chrome grille give G70 distinctive look. Photo Credit: John Gilbert

It seems to be one of those in escapable truths, that U.S. car buyers have completely converted their attention to SUVs, trucks and crossovers at such a pace that it’s futile for companies to keep making those old-fashioned things — sedans.

Sales numbers bear this out, and even the most stalwart cars, like the Camry, Accord, and Civic have been displaced by SUVs like the RAV4 and the CR-V, which are now the leading sellers for Toyota and Honda,

respectively. So convinced are car-makers that Ford and General Motors have halted production of a lot of cars that used to carry their colors into annual sales competition.

And then there’s Hyundai, the South Korean giant that has become a giant in automotives, really, in the last 10 years. And while Hyundai seems to be in a hurry to get to the top, it is not so much in a hurry to give up on cars. Sedans, even. Hyundai, in partnership with KIA, continues to reach higher into the hallowed ground of SUVs, but they also continue to make very impressive sedans. And they’re reaching higher.

For 2019, Hyundai introduced the Genesis G70, a 4-door sedan version of its flashy coupe, and at the most reasonable end of the three cars — G70, G80, and G90 — with which it has endowed its new and separate

high-end Genesis brand. As a brand new model, the G70 surprised many in the industry by being named Car of the Year. KIA had come out with the highly successful Stinger a year earlier, so the platform was there, and Hyundai shortened it to more compact dimensions, and filled it up with elements that are aimed at luxury and sportiness, and achieved that hard-to-achieve combination.

Up on Lake Superior’s North Shore, outside of Duluth, Minnesota, we got an early start on our winter-that-never-ends season with heavy snow and cold long before 2019 ended, so I was pleased to get a week-long test drive in a Genesis G70, and it was the loaded G70 AWD 3.3T Sport, which gets your attention immediately, with a sticker price of $53,245. That strikes you as a lot for a company that started out, and climbed, by building economy cars, then economical cars, adding style, then luxury, then sport, but keeping the sticker price far less than you’d assume, for all you’re getting. Turns out, the new G70 does exactly that, punching above its weight class by far, considering it starts with a base price of $46,650, and is a very impressive entry-luxury car at that price.

Once you drive the car — particularly after a blizzard hits — you appreciate all it offers and how much attention has been paid to make you comfortable and secure, while also holding the hammer of high performance. The usual high-end Hyundai technology is everywhere, including the outstanding lane-departure and lane-centering devices, all the connectivity you could want, simple execution of top-end luxury, and style — along with the high-grade steel placed strategically throughout the platform.

Top G70 has quilted leather seats in a feature-filled interior. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
Top G70 has quilted leather seats in a feature-filled interior. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
G70 instrument cluster is well-defined and can be altered to show various functions. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
G70 instrument cluster is well-defined and can be altered to show various functions. Photo Credit: John Gilbert

Real-world luxury starts with the Nappa leather bucket seats that are heated front and rear and offer support and comfortable firmness. And it goes right on through the head-up display of redundant information in the driver’s line of vision and to the brilliantly lighted outside, with LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights. The headlights have auto-dimming, naturally, because the test car came equipped with all the standard equipment as well as the Elite package, with adaptive lighting, parking sensors and parking assist, plus the

Prestige package, and the Sport package. with the surround video screen monitor, quilted Nappa leather seats and head-up display, and the Sport package, with 19-inch black alloy wheels, electronic suspension, and the dark chrome grille.

The wheels are larger than standard, and measure 225-40 19 front and 255/35 19 rear — just so you won’t be tempted to do the easy seasonal front-to-rear swap.

The powertrain starts with a 3.3-liter V6, twin turbocharged to send 365 horsepower and a whopping 376 foot-pounds of torque to all four wheels. An 8-speed automatic governs the power to all four wheels, which is something you appreciate mostly in Winter driving when “winter” is spelled with a capital W. The transmission shifts smoothly all the way from 1 through 8, and can be manually overridden by paddles on the steering wheel to execute the rev-matching shifts.

n silhouette, the G70 strikes a sporty pose, and its all-wheel drive and 3.3-liter twin turbo performs appropriately. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
In silhouette, the G70 strikes a sporty pose, and its all-wheel drive and 3.3-liter twin turbo performs appropriately. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
After evaluating the power and luxury of the AWD G70, its price tag of $53,245 doesn't seem out of line. Photo Credit: John Gilbert
After evaluating the power and luxury of the AWD G70, its price tag of $53,245 doesn't seem out of line. Photo Credit: John Gilbert

All that power makes the G70 a kick to drive, although it never feels like a hot rod,  maybe because of all the luxurious accoutrements and computer gadgetry. But get on it hard and you find it has plenty of punch that complements its insistence on staying firmly planted in cornering and smooth at freeway speed.

The twin turbos make it easy to get on it hard, and difficult to take it easy, so the EPA estimates of 17 city and 25 highway usually flank what you’re actually attaining. I didn’t get the G70 out on the freeway for any kind of trip, so I can’t say that we ever cruised at 25 miles per gallon or more, but it was easy to get 23 or 24 in city driving, which makes me believe you could get close to 30 with sustained cruising.

The G70 is not the luxury liner the G90 is, but it does have all the luxury anyone could seek, and it combines it with crisp handling and potent power, which gives it a sporty edge that most luxury cars don’t strive for. Plus, all the electronic gadgetry works well and efficiently, satisfying the desires of the technocrats. Combining all those things puts the G70 on a plane that would require comparison shoppers to check for in the BMW lineup, or Audi or Mercedes. German, for sure.

Hyundai didn’t earn the right to have its new G70 mentioned in the same sentence with BMW, but it has earned that status by remaining committed to building cars, from the subcompact Accent to the compact Elantra and extremely slick midsize Sonata, and on up to the Genesis models. The company is not being overly bold, but it has maintained the belief that sedans are not going away.

While buying into the profit margins of SUVs, at Hyundai they believe that it may be cyclical, and while many SUV buyers are happy with their purchases, they may prefer to revisit the sedan market when they replace their second vehicle, rather than having two SUVs.

If that happens, and plenty of market research indicates it well could, a good number of those buyers might want a sedan that is a cut above others in features, luxury or sportiness. And with the G70, Hyundai already has a proven winner at a price tag that is not all that expensive, after all.