AUTO REVIEW: Let the Genesis G70 Run on a Country Road — If You Can Find One

By Henry Payne

The 2022 Genesis G70 (Genesis/TNS)

(The Detroit News/TNS) — The Genesis G70 wants off its leash — badly.

With a gym-toned bod, short wheelbase, Drive Mode tuned to SPORT+ and 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 at the ready in 3.3T trim, the subcompact sedan is the brand’s greyhound. It’s gotta run. But like finding room for your dog to really let loose in suburban America, it ain’t an easy thing to do.

I took it on a morning rush hour commute to a business appointment recently and had dutifully slogged through heavy traffic and rain to get there. The G70 is an easy commuter with infotainment touchscreen, digital displays and technology shared with its Hyundai brethren like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and instrument-panel-displayed video blind-spot assist.

Using adaptive cruise control, I negotiated stop-and-go traffic even in the wet weather — the camera and radar undeterred by precipitation in keeping me lane-centered and distanced from vehicles ahead. I arrived at my meeting refreshed.

But as the afternoon clouds parted and I headed home, I wanted to boogie with my dance partner. That is the G70’s core purpose.

Like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW 2-series and Cadillac CT4, the G70 is one of the most athletic cars on the road today. With a wheelbase five inches shorter than the Caddy CT5, the G70 is whip-quick through corners. I headed out to some exurban two-lanes in the midafternoon.

Curses! A train of traffic spread out before me.

The G70’s V-6 drivetrain boasts a healthy 376 pound-feet of torque to go with its impressive 365 horsepower, mated to an eight-speed transmission and paddle shifters. With that combo, I made quick work of a pair of slower cars before the broken center line sealed up solid again.

I quick-sprang through some curves, and then I was the caboose again behind another trail of slugs. Another opening. Another car dispatched. But with too few passing opportunities and too many fellow travelers, the harder I bailed, the deeper in traffic I found myself.

Speaking of water, the G70 shrugged off the wet roads. With rear-wheel drive, it responded naturally to my steering inputs while modern electronic stability systems worked in the background to prevent wheel slip under acceleration out of turns.

Desperate for fun, I finally pulled off the main track and took a long, winding farm road to nowhere just to let the big dog run. Oh, freedom. Oh, joy. Oh, twin-turbos.

Inevitably, the road dead-ended into another main thoroughfare, and I resumed my slog home.

The G70 has always been a joy to drive. I first tasted its need for speed at the North American Car and Truck for the Year jury test in 2019. But the styling felt derivative — we auto writers commented on its “Audi-like grille” — in a segment where style matters. Even as Genesis chased the Lexus value strategy, undercutting luxe competition by five grand will only get you so far among customers with deep pockets.

Plus, when you’re stuck in (bah!) traffic all day, you want other folks to at least admire your investment. My Launch Edition tester sweetened the sauce with matte-black paint and red leather interior.

Significantly, the refreshed G70 took a big leap forward in establishing its own design language.

Like the GV70 SUV and GV80 sedan before it, the G70 is instantly recognizable with its split front headlights — and matching rear taillights. Deep scalloped body stampings are raked across the flanks and hood, punctuated by the Genesis’s pointed lower grille lip and multiple lower-facia air intakes. If not as dramatic as Alfa Romeo’s iconic Trilobo grille, it nonetheless is unmistakably Genesis. Performance-car fans will take notice.

Which is a good thing, because the competition is formidable.

Consider cousin Kia Stinger, built on the same platform as G70. With loads of personality, it shares the 3.3-liter V-6 and eight-speed tranny. Similarly spec’d to the G70, it comes in at a similar price to the smaller Genesis while adding all-wheel drive, a more utilitarian rear hatchback and a crucial 1.5 inches of rear legroom.

(Genesis/TNS)

Legroom has been the Achilles’ heel of vehicles like the Alfa Romeo Giulia and former Cadillac ATS — two of the best driver’s cars in the segment that were definitely not passenger cars given their tight hind quarters. This was such an issue for the ATS that Caddy rebadged it as CT4 and moved it down segment — making room for the CT5, which comes in at the same price as the G70 while offering comparable twin-turbo V-6 thrills and three more inches of rear legroom that had your 6’5″ reviewer’s knees bouncing with joy.

Inside, the G70 interior is executed with crisp materials, touchscreen and a classy T-shifter. The latter two features offer good and bad news. The good news? The touchscreen is a big improvement over the ergonomic nightmare rotary-screen controller on the GV80 (why do luxe models insist on reinventing the tried-and-true touchscreen/or rotary controller?). The bad news is that Hyundai has ditched the manual transmission option on the G70 — further narrowing the choices of enthusiasts like my friend Eric. He’ll be scratching Genesis off his list of potential buys.

Rear-wheel-drive peers like Alfa, BMW and Caddy won’t be the only tests for the comely G70.

Priced a full 10 grand below the G70 is the sensational all-wheel-drive VW Golf R with nearly 300 horsepower, comparable interior room and technology galore. Go 20 grand south of the Genesis and you’ll find a 250-horsepower/320-torque AWD Mazda 3 Turbo with knockout styling similar to the G70. You can even dress the Mazda in a red leather interior.

This performance sedan market is a real piranha tank.

The big bonus is that the G70 and its many competitors turn heads when I drive them around town. These aren’t your cookie-cutter, three-box SUVs. They are sleek sedans ‘n’ hatches that move with the single-minded purpose of the piranha.

Pity it is so difficult to find a sandbox for them to play in.

2022 Genesis G70

Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear- and all-wheel-drive five-passenger sedan

Price: $38,870, including $1,045 destination fee ($53,545 3.3T Launch Edition as tested)

Powerplant: 2.0-liter turbo-4 cylinder; 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V-6

Power: 252 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque (turbo-4); 365 horsepower, 376 pound-feet of torque (twin-turbo V-6)

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.5 seconds (Turbo V-6, Car and Driver); top speed, 145 mph

Weight: 3,774 pounds (RWD 3.3T as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA, 21 mpg city/31 highway/24 combined (turbo-4 RWD); 18 mpg city/27 highway/21 combined (turbo-V6 RWD)

Report card

Highs: Distinctive looks; driver’s machine

Lows: Tight backseat; stick shift, please

Overall: 3 stars

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