When I was given the keys to the Genesis G70 3.3T for a recent Top Gear America filming stint, I was extremely excited. We don’t get Genesis the marque in the U.K. or Europe (though there are plans to launch in 2020), and I always think they look great zipping around California. I’m also a big fan of the characterful and hilariously oversteery Kia Stinger. Surely a smaller, lighter, and more agile Stinger with a higher-quality interior would be something pretty special?
My week with the G70 took in plenty of freeways, a blast up into the Angeles Forest area for filming, and a few laps of Streets of Willow. Sorry about the slightly noisy brakes, I’m sure they’ll settle down. Probably.
For the most part the G70 lived up to expectations. It’s quick, nicely balanced, and genuinely entertaining. Most of all, there’s an honesty and intuitive feel to the chassis, which I like. It feels like a sport sedan that wants to be a sport sedan, whereas the German competition seem so keen to be luxurious and tech-heavy that the dynamism is hidden away for only the truly committed to discover. It’s funny how manufacturers with such a rich history seem less sure of their identity than a relative upstart like Genesis.
Which isn’t to say the G70 is perfect. I like the slightly gruff, gutsy 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, but the eight-speed automatic gearbox is pretty annoying. It’s never silken or invisible when you’re simply going with the flow in traffic, and when you ask for precise, punchy shifts in Sport mode and start exercising the gearshift paddles, it pretty much ignores your requests. It’ll change up whenever it damn well chooses, OK?
Other gripes: For me the interior is still some way off something from Audi or BMW, despite so many cues clearly borrowed from the latter. It feels a little lightweight and brittle. On the other hand, perhaps that plays into the sense that this is a sport sedan that harks back a couple of generations. Its sensibilities are rooted in handling, steering accuracy, and body control rather than endless driver aids and connectivity (though the Apple CarPlay starts up instantly and is about a million times easier to access than in a BMW).
Up on Angeles Forest Highway the G70 felt pretty tidy. It’s not blessed with an abundance of grip, and the Michelins squeal and screech in protest. But despite the aural drama, the Genesis is calm and collected. There’s very little understeer, and although the G70 likes to slide at the rear, it does so with almost slow-motion progression. It’s just the sort of balance I like, but I can imagine it would feel a little too loose for some.
I’d like to say the traction control system tidies it all up without fuss, but it’s a mark of the car’s inherent rightness that I turned off all the electronics as soon as the road started to twist and turn ahead. The only chip in the armor is that big bumps really unsettle the car when the chassis is loaded. Body control generally is just a little on the soft side.
On track the G70 is a hoot. The brakes really protest after just a couple of laps, but the Genesis slides with real grace. The gearbox remains a weak link, and the G70 won’t trouble any lap records, but there’s just something fundamentally right about the chassis underneath this thing.
I can’t help thinking there’s a great M3 rival lurking within the G70, if only they’d uncork it. Doesn’t the G90 come with a 5.0-liter V-8 with 420 hp? Wonder if those clever Genesis people could retune that engine for top-end power rather than lazy torque, cram it into a G70, and really go to town on tying down the chassis. Now that’s a car I’d like to borrow the next time I’m in town…