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CAPE NEDDICK, Maine —
the version of the
G70 that will be sold on the automaker’s home peninsula, and found it to be a compelling alternative to the likes of the the
. I got my first crack at the car in its North American production form this month in the southeastern hills of Maine. That means this version has been tuned for a country with fewer speedbumps and more enthusiast drivers, and provides an opportunity to dig a little deeper into what the G70 means for the brand at home and abroad.
For the U.S. we get a pair of powerplant options in the G70, both using turbocharging and direct injection. The budget option is a 2.0-liter inline-four good for 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque when paired to the eight-speed automatic. The rear-drive I4 is also available with a six-speed manual transmission, and equipped as such, it offers a few extra horsepower for a total of 255.
The performance option is a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6, paired solely to an eight-speed auto, providing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, the latter offered from low in the rev range. It can propel the car from 0-60 miles per hour in a swift 4.5 seconds when using launch control. I spent most of my time in rear-wheel-drive versions, but the all-wheel-drive car can also shift up to 100 percent of its power to the rear wheels under the right conditions when set in Sport mode with stability control off.
On the road, this thing is a shark. Quiet and bitey, able to cruise comfortably, ready to burst into action with a twist of the drive mode knob. I was really impressed with the calm, quiet ride it provided. That said, if you’re looking for a rorty
that’ll snarl and pop its way down the road, the G70 isn’t the car for you. It’s a nearly silent assassin, trading aural gratification for a sense of sheer sleekness.
In recent months and years, I had nearly given up on paddle shifters. I just don’t find them to be particularly engaging, so I was somewhat pleased to hear that Genesis would offer a six-speed manual in the G70, if only as a token gesture in the 2.0T. On a long downhill grade in the 3.3T, though, I used the paddles for engine braking, and then I couldn’t stop. These shifters are a genuine pleasure to use, offering a quick dopamine hit with such a quick response to a flick of a finger behind the steering wheel. The G70 offers a rare setup in which the paddles actually do provide a bona fide feeling of connection with the car.
As nice as it is to drive, though, the G70 is just as wonderful to behold.
of a balance of structure and audacity is executed beautifully. The design is gorgeous inside and out, and everything that grabs the attention of your eye or fingertip is nothing short of high-quality. The look is very deliberate — it’s all very fresh and even a bit gallant — but there’s no flash for the sake of flash. In fact, there’s a sense of simplicity when you view the interior or exterior from afar. Under close scrutiny, though, you can’t help see the enormous attention to detail, from the copper-colored elements in the lighting to the way the stitching avoids the perforation of the leather to the smooth animation of the “door ajar” graphics on the instrument panel as you close the door.
The drive took me to Club Motorsports — a new, private track facility built into the side of a mountain in New Hampshire. It’s a big, swoopy track with huge elevation changes. There I was able to suss out the car’s strengths, and its limits.
On the big, 2.5 mile, 15-turn road course, with 250 feet of elevation change, I hopped into a rear-drive 3.3T for a handful of lead-follow laps. With traction control dialed back (but not completely disabled), the G70 behaved predictably and forgivingly. Pushing it through a long corner, giving it a bit more throttle helped to kick the rear out and point the nose in. The Michelin
Sport 4 rubber made a lot of noise pretty much the entire time, but did well to communicate and dole out grip and spin appropriately.
I learned quickly that with the G70, it pays to be judicious with the throttle. It’s easy to dig a little too deeply; in fact, it’s hard not to. If smoothness is the key to consistently fast laps, you have to learn not to hammer on this thing on your way past the apex, or risk straying from your line. When I finally learned to be properly light on the throttle on exit, I found the car to flow nicely around this swoopy track. In the AWD version, on the same circuit, I found the G70 3.3T able to pull itself around the corners with a bit more ease, but it was less forgiving, tending toward understeer when cooking a corner a little too hot — not particular unexpected, but a notable difference from the car I had just been in. More often than in the RWD version, I had to shed speed to bring it back in line.
One thing that kept surprising us was just how quiet this car is. Standing next to the long straight at the start/finish line of the track — a section where the car is passing 100 miles per hour under full throttle — I’d watch these cars swoop by again and again, and I never heard them coming. There was only a mere “shoop” as each G70 sliced its way through the atmosphere feet from where I stood. It’s almost uncanny, as I’m told these G70s are even noisier than the version offered in Korea. From inside, the groaning of the tires clawing for grip dominated the soundtrack.
This is an unmistakably athletic car, and is effortlessly quick and smooth on the road. On the track, the G70 is quick, but challenges you to concentrate hard to learn its behaviors before you can truly be consistent. It’s not one of those cars that you can master in a day, which perhaps makes it even more compelling to own, so you can spend time unlocking the secrets to its strengths.
So is this the right car for Genesis right now? Something seems odd about the focus on sedans at a time when buyers are so obsessed with SUVs. I heard three reasons that made sense to me. Most compelling, and most obvious, is the idea that when establishing a
brand (especially a luxury marque), the identity starts with sedans. Especially when part of that image is performance, you don’t plant your flag with a lineup of
. If utes had come first, I’d have had trouble buying into the allure of the Essentia concept, which is something the marketing and design bigwigs within Genesis really want to follow up on.
Second, for a new brand that’s still working to grow in volume, it makes sense to start small and ramp up into higher-volume vehicles once the
network and brand identity has solidified. This platform is a version of the one used by the
, and will eventually be the basis for an SUV.
There’s one other reason, though, that sedans are so important to Genesis straight out the gate:
. Throughout my time in Maine and New Hampshire, I was reminded repeatedly about how dedicated the company to its home market — and its home culture. In the luxury world, sedans are still king in Korea. And Korean brands make up a vast majority of cars on the road there, as I learned when I went with
What I also saw when I visited Korea is that there isn’t really a huge car culture in place. Even
, Genesis executive vice president and global brand chief, admits this. Aspiration, though, is universal, and Genesis can offer it on the level of the Germans, likely for a few thousand dollars less, too (pricing for the G70 is still to be determined). If Genesis can turn the Korean spirit of its vehicles into a less audacious alternative to German opulence, it might be onto something. It’s going to take time, though.
It’s going to take marketing to get butts in seats. From there, the G70 (at least) will sell itself. The level of quality on offer smacks you in the face, then pulls you in close and holds you there, simultaneously sending a warning shot across the bow of its German competitors. It’s on Genesis and its
network — which is just beginning to crystallize as the company
over how Genesis dealerships should be run, and by whom — to win over more new converts.
After spending quality time behind the wheel, I’m absolutely convinced the G70 has what it takes in terms of quality, design, performance and comfort to stand up to its competition. What needs to happen now is for the car to get support from the brand cachet Genesis is trying to build. It’s a long play, but the G70 is a shining example of what the company can do. If Genesis can get their proverbial foot in the door with customers, cars like the G70 can speak for themselves, as quiet as its voice may be. I still worry that circumstances — a young brand with a shaky dealership situation launching this sedan before establishing itself with higher-volume sellers like SUVs — will conspire to see this car overlooked by U.S. buyers. That would be a crying shame.
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