Not quite as thrilling as the one with more cylinders and turbos.
With the arrival of the compact 2019 Genesis G70 sport sedan to its growing lineup, Hyundai’s luxury brand has suddenly gained the respect of critics and competitors who weren’t yet convinced by the larger G80 and G90 sedans that came before it. The G70 is a proper sports sedan, and even without the pedigree of a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, it’s an instant contender in its class.
That is, if we’re talking about the G70 3.3T, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 producing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Not much has been said, though, about the base G70, which is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing a more modest 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
The G70 2.0T, though, can be had with a manual transmission – the G70 3.3T cannot – and it’s lighter and less expensive. When we sat down to weigh its Pros and Cons, though, we realized this isn’t one of those cases where less is more. Instead, you get what you pay for with the G70 2.0T: a lesser car than the 3.3T.
Unlike the automatic-only G70 3.3T, the only available transmission on my G70 2.0T Sport trim is a six-speed manual. The 2.0T Sport adds an extra $3,000 over the base, eight-speed-automatic model (although you'll also get a lot more gear beyond the do-it-yourself transmission) and requires rear-wheel drive; if you want all-wheel drive, it’s the automatic for you. Still, in a world where the population of manual-equipped cars is shrinking by the day, huzzah to Genesis for offering one here.
The G70’s handling prowess is baked into its DNA, which makes the 2.0T model every bit as fun to take through turns as the 3.3T version. Sure, there’s less power available from the smaller engine, but the G70’s combination of excellent suspension tuning, quick-yet-accurate steering, and powerful stopping force comes with the price of admission, regardless of engine.
If you were wondering why opting for the six-speed manual transmission over the eight-speed automatic costs an extra two grand, it might have something to do with the fact that the manual also comes with a high-performance Brembo brake package. The system features two-piston stopping power out back and four pistons up front, which clamp down on larger 13.8-inch vented front rotors. And the calipers are red, which look cool behind the car’s standard 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires. These potent, stylish stoppers are only available with the G70 2.0T Sport or 3.3T Advanced.
We’ll applaud the availability of any manual transmission, but this particular six-speed needs some work. The stick feels loose and vague in its motions while rowing through the gears, and the clutch could use a firmer pedal. In its current form, this transmission feels like it was plucked from an Elantra and transplanted into the G70. If it were as tight and robust as, say, a Miata’s manual, we’d be lauding what could be the best bang-for-your-buck performance luxury sedan on the market.
Also, the stick shift is only available on rear-wheel-drive models with the smaller engine, which implies from the get-go this isn’t meant to be the second coming of manual-equipped sport sedans.
On paper, the G70’s base turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine seems plenty powerful with 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. In reality, I find myself often shifting into a power void while accelerating, which makes the engine feel laggy. The solution is to rev higher before shifting, which is a small adjustment, though one that turns up the volume on the engine’s less-than-sonorous exhaust note. It doesn’t feel like Genesis engineers did a lot of work fine-tuning the marriage of the engine and transmission, which further justifies the impression these are base model components.
The G70 is a luxury compact sport sedan, emphasis on “compact.” If your butt’s in either of the front seats, the cozy quarters feel fine, as if the cabin is purposely wrapped around you like a tailored jacket. The back seat, though, feels like Bruce Banner’s pants when The Other Guy shows up. I’m of average height, and with the front seat comfortably set where I like it, there was still not enough legroom behind me for someone to comfortably sit for long. That makes the G70 a great whip for a couple with no kids, as larger broods will find it impossible to fit inside.