A fantastic car mired by a terrible transmission.
Nothing makes us want to get up and go drive more than a car with a flawless manual gearbox. Few things are more rewarding than a perfect clutch and a slick six-speed. But on the flip side, nothing makes us want to drive less than a car with a terrible gearbox, even when fastened to a vehicle as good as the Genesis G70.
Dynamically, the G70 is among the best in its class. The luxury sedan is agile and responsive, and punchy as hell with the right powertrain. But the G70's clunky six-speed manual, with a clutch that has an overly sensitive catch point, and a not-so-torquey 2.0-liter engine weigh down the otherwise impressive package. In the ongoing fight to keep the manual alive, this is one gearbox not worth saving.
The Genesis G70 is proof that even subtle cues can produce a stunning-looking vehicle. The G70 doesn't have an overly angular face like the BMW 3 Series, nor too jarring a grille like the Lexus IS. The respectably sized grille and slim LED headlights of the Genesis give it an aggressive look without going too over the top, while the integrated LED taillights and barely noticeable ducktail spoiler provide a sleek look out back. The Siberian Ice paint our tester wears make the G70 even more appealing.
Designers took a similar approach to the cabin. High-quality black materials cover the dash, door panels, and center console. There are no outrageous patterns or angles, just simple, clean textures that combine to form a cohesive package. Even the faux leather seats feel great; they're both extremely cushy and well-bolstered. If there’s anything to nitpick, it’s the overabundance of chrome.
The front two seats of the Genesis G70 are comfortable. The buckets are well-bolstered and soft, the space is open and airy, and 16-way adjustability and four-way lumbar support mean there's no struggle finding the perfect position. Really, the only area the G70 2.0T suffers over the 3.3T model is not having standard leather. The back seats aren't as comfy, though – they're a bit stiff. Legroom and headroom leave something to be desired, as well, especially for your six-foot tall author.
Even in “Comfort” mode, the G70's suspension feels overly tight. Sport mode makes ride harshness even worse. Excessive wind noise penetrates the cabin, and there's a noticeable amount of tire noise. The thin tire walls of the 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber are a contributor; the tires measuring in at P225/40R19 front and P255/35R19 rear.
Compared to alternatives like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, though, the Genesis G70 is lacking in the cargo department. Its 10.5 cubic feet are a downgrade to Mercedes’ 12.6 cubic feet and BMW’s 17.0 cubic feet. Even the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s 12.0 cubic feet are better.
Even the base G70 2.0T model comes with excellent tech. The standard 8.0-inch touchscreen is almost flawless in its execution. It has crisp graphics, a clean interface, and features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity at no extra cost. Other standard features include three USB-C ports total (two up front and one in the rear), a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, and a Lexicon 15-speaker audio system that produces crystal clear sound. Even the lowliest G70 is ripe with equipment. If there's anything to knock, it’s that the same typeface and graphics from all Kia/Hyundai products carry over here; the G70 having the same fonts as a Kia Soul strikes us as odd.
Had you read any of our G70 reviews prior, you’d know how much we love the way this car drives. With a properly tuned suspension, super sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, and perfectly weighted, communicative steering, Genesis produced a genuine sports sedan here. It's so good – not even the latest 3 Series feels this lively or direct in corners. And with big Brembo stoppers (yes, even on the base model), it’s easy to bring this car to a halt. So why the low score?
Downgrading from the top-of-the-line G70 3.3T requires sacrifice. The base turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is… fine, but it just isn't punchy enough. It produces a rather wimpy 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The base BMW 330i's 255 horses are comparable, but its 295 lb-ft of twist in the Bimmer make all the difference. It takes the Genesis 5.9 seconds to hit 60 miles per hour versus the BMW's 5.4 seconds.
The G70's six-speed manual gearbox is the biggest offender. The clutch is heavy, the catch point is difficult to find (atypical of a luxury car), and the shifts are long, sloppy, and harsh. Downshifting from any gear results in an off putting clunk. Having experienced both of the G70's gearbox options, it's safe to say the eight-speed automatic is the better of the two. The manual makes this otherwise great car feel less fun.
Even though it doesn’t offer many of the advanced safety features you’ll find on Mercedes-Benz and BMW products, the base G70 2.0T is still well equipped for the class. The Genesis comes with standard active safety features like forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.
The G70 2.0T has pretty poor fuel economy for the class. It gets just 18 miles per gallon in the city, 28 on the highway, and 22 combined, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The base Mercedes-Benz C-Class gets up to 24 city, 35 highway, and 28 combined, while the BMW 330i is even better at 26 city, 36 highway, and 30 combined.
The 2020 Genesis G70 starts at $35,450. That’s for the base turbocharged 2.0-liter model with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the six-speed manual actually adds $3,050 onto the total asking price, bringing the MSRP to $38,500. At least there aren't a ton of options to hike the price. The super cool (pun intended) Siberian Ice paint job on our tester comes standard, as does faux black leather, and a suite of safety equipment. Only the higher-up 3.3T model offers real leather, though.
After destination and handling fees, our tester costs $39,495. Comparatively, this car is well priced. The base BMW 3 Series starts at $40,750, while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class starts at $41,400.