It was once a kind of automotive axiom that if you liked to drive you aspired to own a BMW. They were, after all, the ultimate driving machines – and that wasn’t advertising hype. It was behind-the-wheel fact. BMW was among the first to make four doors and fun driving not mutually exclusive – by putting a third pedal in four doors, among other things.
But what BMW once did, BMW no longer does. If you want a luxury sport sedan with a manual transmission, for instance, you’ll have to try elsewhere.
Actually, for only.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Infiniti – they’re automatic only now.
What It Is
Genesis is Hyundai’s version of what Lexus is to Toyota – only more . . . interesting.
Luxurious, of course. But sporty in ways the others have largely given up on.
The G70 sedan is a compact-sized sedan Like the BMW 3, Mercedes C, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 luxury-sport sedans. Like them, it’s rear-wheel-drive, with AWD optional and offers your pick of standard and optional engines.
Unlike all of them the G70 gives you the option to shift gears for yourself.
You can get a six-speed manual transmission in this one – which you can’t in the others. At least, not without a Sawzall.
And – being made by Hyundai (the parent company, in the manner of Lexus being made by Toyota) the G70 comes standard with the best warranty coverage of the bunch: Five years/60,000 miles on the whole car and ten years/100,000 miles on what makes the car go (its engine, transmission and related parts).
G70 prices start at $35,450 for the rear-drive 2.0T trim – $5,300 less than the base price of the BMW 330i sedan ($40,750).
You can opt for AWD ($37,450) and still pay thousands less than BMW asks for the rear-drive version of the 3 Series sedan.
And no matter how big a check you write to BMW – or the others – you can’t get that third pedal.
Genesis offers it – along with a grabby 19-inch “summer” wheel/tire package (18s and all-seasons being otherwise standard) high-capacity Brembo brakes (contrast-color powder coated, to show what you’ve got), a limited-slip differential and a rowdier exhaust system (plus a slight horsepower bump) for $38,500 – still thousands less than the MSRP of the BMW without any of those features.
You can also get a G70 with a 365 horsepower turbocharged 3.3 liter V6 – and your pick of rear-drive or AWD. Several of the others, including BMW – also offer turbo six power.
But not for $44,650 to start – the base price of the G70 3.3T (vs. $54,000 for the BMW M340i).
A top-of-the-line G70 3.3T with AWD stickers for $46,650 – vs. $56,000 for the AWD-equipped BME M340i.
There are, however, some things the G70 has less of than most of its rivals – such as trunk space.
The BMW 3 sedan has 17 cubic feet while the Genesis has only 10.5 – but that’s one of the very few things you’ll get less of if you buy this thing vs. the other things.
2020 is the G’s sophomore year – it was an all-new model in 2019 – and to sweeten the pot even more, Genesis has lowered the price for this year.
Last year, the G70 stickered for $34,900 to start – $450 more to start than the 2020 G70.
And this year, a loaded V6-equipped AWD G70 stickers for $5,600 less than the cost of the same thing in 2019.
A truly sporty luxury sedan.
A tremendous value.
Exceptional warranty coverage
What’s Not So Good
Small gas tank.
Available manual costs extra.
Manual isn’t available with the V6.
The G70 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0 liter four making an advertised 252 horsepower (plus three more, if you go with the Sport and the manual transmission).
The only competitor that comes standard with a significantly stronger engine is the Infiniti Q50 – which is also the only one in the class that comes standard with a six cylinder engine. It makes 300 horsepower – but it’s only available with an automatic and it costs more ($36,400) to start.
You can go rear-wheel-drive or (optionally) all-wheel-drive.
The V6 G70 is a ferocious performer, capable of getting to 60 in 4.5 seconds. It also does that while managing to return 17 city, 26 highway – which is margin-of-error close to the mileage advertised by the turbo 2.0 G70’s 22 city, 30 highway.
Both versions, however, seem a lot thirstier than they actually are because they don’t carry much fuel. The G70’s tank only holds 15.8 gallons, which means the V6 equipped G can drink it dry in about 250 miles of driving.
That’s still much farther than the real-world range of any electric car, however – and unlike any electric car, the G can be back on the road and ready for another 250 miles in less than five minutes.
Both engines do like premium, which is to be expected given the G itself is a premium car. But – as is true for all modern cars – no mechanical harm will come from using regular 87 octane unleaded. The G’s computer will automatically dial back the boost a bit, soften ignition timing. You’ll only notice a difference if you’re trying for the quickest ET.
You may also notice a slight dip in gas mileage – which seems ironic but actually makes sense when you understand that high-compression (or boosted) engines are most efficient when they use the premium fuel they were designed for, which can take the higher cylinder pressures inside these engines without auto-igniting (pinging).
So, it’s actually a money-saver (as well as a performance enhancer) to just premium.
The G does a remarkable impression of a BMW 3 Series sedan . . . back when a 3 Series sedan was the benchmark luxury-sport sedan. It is now just another luxury sedan with some sporty aspects here and there; memories of what was.
This includes the no longer standard in-line six, which is still available – but only in the much more expensive M340i. That DOHC straight six is still the benchmark – in terms of inherent smoothness and uniquely delicious sound (nothing sounds like an in-line six).
But it’s so expensive, few will ever get to savor it.
Meanwhile, the as-it-comes 3 comes only with an automatic, paired to a 2.0 liter turbo four very similar to the G70’s 2.0 liter four – except you can pair the G’s four with a six-speed manual and short-throw shifter – which gives the driver something to do besides push on the gas pedal.
The optional V6 is not as delicious as the BMW’s in-line six. But it’s close – except in terms of the price. We are talking a $10k difference there – and that makes up for the G’s V6 not being as revvy and not quite as smooth.
And while it makes a bit less horsepower (365 vs. 382) it makes more torque (376 ft.-lbs. vs. 369 for the M340i) and so works very well with the standard eight-speed automatic.
It’s just a shame the engine’s not available with the manual transmission.
One thing the automatic does come with is a funky shifter. It’s not a button or a stalk – as in some of the others; it’s a conventional-looking T-shaped grab handle, which has a nice tactile feel you won’t get from a button or a stalk.
But it has a weird pattern. Look – and learn – before you leave.
Pretty much all T shifters, you throw ’em forward to engage Park. The G’s most-forward position is Reverse. To engage Park, you push a separate button ahead of the T-shaped shift handle. If you are unaware of this, you might leave the car in Reverse when you assumed it was in Park.
It’s not a big deal; once you get hipped to it – which happens quickly – you get used to it. But one wonders whether Genesis will get Better-Call-Saul’d by the one person who doesn’t notice (or pretends not to notice).
The car’s handling is . . . BMW-esque. The steering isn’t quite as sharp, but then the newest BMWs have had theirs dulled (via electric rather than hydraulic assist) so it’s almost a wash on that score. The grip – and give – is dead on. This is a car you can drive like a rally car that doesn’t ride like a rally car. Even with the optional 19-inch short sidewall “summer” tires. It’s a cross-country runner that’s also a corner carver.
This is a driver’s car. No need for an Atari-emulating flatscreen clusters to entertain – because the car does that.
There’s something else it does less of.
Shut itself off.
Like almost all new cars, the G has ASS – the system that turns the engine off even though you haven’t stopped driving. But the G’s ASS is much less peremptory; it doesn’t shut the engine off as often and it’s much less noticeable when it does.
The theme has been emulated but the form has not been copied.
The G sits wide and low, with a slight inward cant to its beefy performance tires. But it isn’t a copy of the 3.
Though you might mistake the Genesis badge for a Bentley – or Aston Martin badge – which is probably deliberate.
And yet, the car isn’t expensive.
The one thing that isn’t standard – and you can’t get as an option – is more trunk room.
Well, that and a bigger gas tank.
The G70’s trunk is the smallest in the class – just 10.7 cubic feet (vs. 17 cubic feet in the BMW 3). But even there, you get more than you expect as the trunk is long enough to handle more than you’d expect; the chief challenge being tall/boxy stuff – but for that, there’s always a bungie cord.
A silly criticism of the G is that its LCD touchscreen is similar to the LCD displays in Hyundais. It is similar – but it’s also very similar to the “floating tablet” display commonly used in BMWs and other prestige branded cars. They are all probably made in the same Chinese factory under license from Microsoft.
Electronics – displays, apps, etc. – are not high-end things. In fact, the ubiquity of such electronic gadgets has democratized the car market profoundly. Every new car, just about has an LCD touchscreen – and things like Android Auto/Apple Car Play/LED ambient lighting and GPS are the same, more or less, in $15,000 cars as in $150,000 cars.
And the G is in a league of its own because it’s the only one in this league that gives your left leg something else to do.
One area where you’ll be glad the G is a Hyundai is the fine print.
The car’s warranty coverage is the same as what you’d get if you bought a Hyundai, which means it’s better than what you’d get if you bought anything else – including a BMW, which comes standard with a four-year/50,000 mile basic warranty . . . and nothing more.
With BMW, it’s all on you after four years and 40,000 miles.
Genesis also tosses in three years free schedule maintenance. Granted, you’re paying for that – it’s folded into the price of the car.
But the car costs less – and thus, so are you.
The Bottom Line
Th wheel turns, times change. In surprising ways.
And every now and then, for the much better.
. . .
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