Flash Drive: Does the 2019 Genesis G70 Sport have what it takes to compete in the entry-luxury sport sedan segment?

Genesis revealed its luxury compact 2019 G70 sedan in Seoul this week, and I had a front row seat for the festivities. Following introductions of an array of executives with exotic names and luxury-brand pedigrees (Bentley, Lamborghini, Mercedes are all mentioned in the intros), the BMW 3 Series fighter was unveiled.

As the cover slid off, I was immediately drawn to the 2019 Genesis G70’s rear-wheel-drive proportions, minimal overhangs, long hood, and high beltline, which combined to give the car a crouching stance and conveying sporty elegance. But then, I’m a sucker for rear-wheel drive, especially when paired with all-wheel-drive capabilities, as in the G70.

Spinning slowly on a turntable, the G70’s face comes into view. It’s a bit busy for my taste. There’s a lot going on with the elongated headlamps, LED running lights, highly stylized air intake vents, flat-bottom grille, and a license plate holder seemingly slapped on as an afterthought. Comparatively speaking, the G70’s rear end is blessedly clean, with elegant oval exhaust outlets, large taillamps, and an oversized Genesis emblem.

While the exterior is sporty-looking and appealing, the interior is what really catches my eye. The brainchild of the stylish head of Genesis Color and Trim at Hyundai Motor Company (and the only female company representative at the presentation), Bozhena Lalova, the cabin is awash in sensuous and tempting materials. The sport-contoured seats on the middle and upper trim lines are beautiful, with rich leather and precision quilting that is echoed in the door panels providing a distinctly luxurious cocoon.

Flash Drive: Does the 2019 Genesis G70 Sport have what it takes to compete in the entry-luxury sport sedan segment?

For what is supposed to be an entry-luxury car, the Genesis G70’s cabin is downright sumptuous.

(Genesis)

Accented with brushed metal, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is round in shape. Wondering aloud if Genesis has missed an opportunity to reinforce the flat-bottom grille with a flat-bottom steering wheel, I’m told those are falling out of favor. The center console is clean and crisp, with conveniently placed controls and an appropriately sized touchscreen display. A handy trifecta of connectivity options resides just in front of the gear shifter, and Genesis supplies a small valley in which to tuck your phone.

A day after the reveal, I get behind the wheel of a G70 Sport with a turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive for a three-hour meandering journey to Inje’s Speedium raceway. Equipped with 367 brake horsepower (bhp), this blown V6 is one of three powertrains Genesis will offer in the G70. A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 248 bhp and a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder diesel good for 200 bhp round out the choices.

According to Genesis, the 3.3-liter is “the backbone” of the G70 Sport. Just for giggles or because they can, all versions come with launch control, torque vectoring, and a mechanical limited-slip differential. That’s my kind of build simplification.

As we battle traffic to get out of Seoul, I’m pleased with the G70 Sport’s multi-functioning seat, which includes adjustable side bolsters. The steering column is electronically adjustable for rake but not height, which requires a bit of getting used to. Because I’m in the Sport version of the G70, I turn the dial from “Comfort” mode to “Sport” for more agile performance and settle in for the drive.

The navigation system is quite intuitive, and provides a level of detail I haven’t encountered before, including notifications of “speed bump ahead.” The head-up display is terrific, too, illuminated in bright white with clear directions and a discreet reminder of the speed limit. The G70’s high level of technology echoes other Korean brands such as Samsung and LG, which are often at the forefront of development.

Flash Drive: Does the 2019 Genesis G70 Sport have what it takes to compete in the entry-luxury sport sedan segment?

Speedy acceleration, quick stopping power, and secure high-speed handling characterize the 2019 Genesis G70 Sport.

(Genesis)

Seoul traffic is intense so I am on the brakes a lot – they’re a little grabby – and don’t get a chance to explore the turbo V6 engine’s torque for a while, but the sedan handles well enough and the steering is responsive. The test car’s suspension is tuned for the Korean market, so it’s softer and looser than the ones we’ll get in the States.

Why is this? “Korea is the land of speed bumps,” I’m told. But this, of course, also makes me wonder about New York potholes so it will be interesting to see just how much stiffer Genesis tunes the American version of the G70 Sport.

Midway through the drive I finally get some breathing room away from traffic, and stomp my foot on the accelerator. The torque kicks in with minimal turbo lag, making me a believer in the G70 Sport’s advertised 0-to-100-kph (62.5 mph) time of 4.7 seconds. Even as the car briefly nears triple-digit speeds, the cabin remains quiet, the steering remains sure, and there’s an overall sense of sporty fun wrapped in security.

A short time later, I’m on the Speedium track, a technical but flowing road course tucked into the hills of Inja, about 75 miles from Seoul. We’re in lead-follow formation, and I’m directly behind the professional driver with about five cars behind me. Even though the first lap is supposed to be an introduction to the track at a moderate speed, the pro driver zooms out of the pits and we’re off.

As I follow the lead car though dips, over hills, and around turns, the G70 Sport handles the course with confidence. Though I’m not the most experienced driver on the track, I feel good about the car’s handling capabilities, and I’m able to keep up with the pro driver even as speeds increase over successive laps. Glancing in the rearview mirror, I can see that the next car is far behind mine, reinforcing my impression that the G70 Sport as an obedient Thoroughbred ready to run.

On the track’s straightaway, I’m able to reach speeds upwards of 115 mph, nowhere near the G70 Sport’s 165-mph top speed, and the sedan stays steady and sure-footed. The grabby brakes on the street are less so on the track, and the wide stance provides welcome stability as I brake for and zoom around corners.

After four laps, track time concludes, and I’m wishing we could go around again. That’s always a good sign.

Flash Drive: Does the 2019 Genesis G70 Sport have what it takes to compete in the entry-luxury sport sedan segment?

Genesis has hired lots of talent away from German automakers. It shows in the new G70 Sport.

(Genesis)

Overall, the 2019 Genesis G70 Sport is a better performing and more emotional vehicle than its larger siblings, the midsize G80 and full-size G90. Many of the engineers Genesis hires come from German auto manufacturers, including Albert Biermann, former BMW M Vice President of Engineering, and it shows in the G70 Sport’s performance.

Benchmarking the Germans is a good plan for vehicle development, but trying to convince a die-hard BMW owner to defect to a Genesis is a slog. Hyundai’s luxury division would be better suited focusing on building prestige through exceptional product, as they have with the G70. My advice: Don’t try to take on the Germans. Just make the very best sports sedans you can, and the people will come.

In the meantime, the new Genesis G70 goes on sale in Korea on Sept. 20, 2017, and in the U.S. at an unspecified date during 2018. Pricing will be announced at a later date as well, but given that the G80 starts in the low 40s, you can bet that a standard G70 will cost about $35,000.

Based on my brief driving experience at the G70’s reveal in Korea, if you’re in the market for a small luxury sport sedan, you’ve got a new model to consider. The G70, and especially the Sport version, is definitely worthy.

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