The Genesis G70 is already sublime.
When it’s equipped with the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 and eight-speed automatic, the G70 is one of the best sports sedans in its class. Recently, though, I had a chance to drive the new Genesis G70 with a manual transmission in Los Angeles. This was a big deal for me, as the last time I drove one of these, it was at the Genesis press event. Sure, I’ve driven several G70s, but they only come with an automatic transmission.
It is one of the more enjoyable sporty luxury sedans to drive. We have written about it several times and the G70 has won several awards from other publications. Between it’s excellent performance, outstanding build quality and top-notch design – those awards were spot on.
What’s the big deal?
This is old-school performance, wrapped in a slick new package. There are very few automakers that offer this combination. As sedans go, there are only a few car companies that offer something comparable, and none of them still offer a three-pedal option. That said, a car is this configuration will never be a big seller and Genesis knows it.
The base model comes with 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Weighing over 3,500 pounds, the G70 takes some time to get going. I ran a 0 to 60 mph at around 6.5 seconds near sea level.
Efficiency is based on the driver. The G70 in its base four-cylinder trim is supposed to get an EPA city/highway of 22/30 mpg. I averaged about 21 mpg, because, you know, fun. I have no doubt that it would have been higher if I were less enthusiastic.
My favorite part is definitely the six-speed manual transmission. How rare is it to have a rear-drive sports sedan with a manual? In this United States, it’s very rare.
The manual transmission comes from the old/discontinued Genesis coupe – and it is a breeze to use. Throws are fairly short and the six-speed takes no effort to engage. I like a heavy clutch, and this one isn’t. It has very little feel, so it works with no effort.
After hustling it around for a few days, shifting and finding the power is easy. The sweet spot is roughly between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm. If you keep it at redline, it falters.
The balance is epic! Seriously, pushing it around a corner gives you a sense that power added or subtracted can be handled – no matter what. Push it hard and the tail can step out, but it’s simple to control.
Grip is outstanding and the brakes are BMW level, which is to say they are outstanding. Steering feel is quite good. Despite having a light steering feel in traffic, effort builds up at speed. Driving through the canyons near Malibu, California was bliss.
The highway ride is a cross between the BMW 3 Series’ firm and Lexus GS’ supple. It absorbs bumps and road irregularities with muted authority. Other than encountering nasty potholes and unfinished roadways, the car remains solid and comfortable.
Interior and pricing
Despite having a reasonable base price of $34,900, (MSRP for the Sport we drove is $38,895) this is no stripped-down base model. The leather, textures along with fit and finish are excellent. While not as Lexus-like as the top-of-the-line model, it is still elegant.
The only downside to the Genesis G70 is its tight rear seat. I hauled many passengers, some of which had bumped their heads on the back pillar while entering. Legroom in the back is tight as well.
I would buy it if…
Simply put, if I still lived in Los Angeles and could maintain a middle-class lifestyle, this car would be in my driveway exactly as configured. I left SoCal nearly two decades ago for the Rocky Mountains. No, they don’t offer a manual version with AWD. If they did, I would own one in Denver.
Still, I had a blast driving the Genesis G70 manual. It made me look far more intelligent and sophisticated than I actually am. The price, packaging, driving feel and looks are award worthy. Rumor has it, it’s already won a bunch of awards. Rightly so.