2019 Genesis G70 Sport Review - Handsome Anachronism

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2019 Genesis G70 Sport

2.0-liter turbocharged I4 (252 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 260 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm)
Six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive
18 city / 28 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
12.8 city / 8.5 highway / 10.9 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
24.3 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $38,895 US / $45,631 CAD
As Tested: $38,895 / $45,631 CAD
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $131 for A/C tax, tire fee, and other fees in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

Take a good look at the state of the sports sedan. Once defined as four doors, compact dimensions, rear-wheel drive, and a manual transmission, there are precious few new cars sold today that fit that narrow criteria. The German manufacturers who made their names in this segment have abandoned the third pedal.

The only choice left is this 2019 Genesis G70 Sport – fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a six-speed manual transmission, and rear wheel drive. Does it win by default as the last car standing in a shrinking market, or is it worthy of accolades on its own merits?

So enthralled was I with the joyful driving manners of the G70 that I weaseled my way out of Saturday morning dad duties and pointed the car southeast to Ohio’s famed Hocking Hills. Not quite the epic canyons of California, the rapid switchbacks up and down the well-wooded Appalachian foothills are still the best thing I can get short of renting a racetrack.

Here, the G70 shines. Even on snow tires. The chassis was never upset by sudden maneuvers to avoid potholes and rabbits, always happily bringing the rear around under power. The transmission, while not quite as slick as that of a Miata, shifted beautifully with reasonably short throws and well-defined gates. The steering is a bit light, but communicates road imperfections well.

And, yes, you read that right. Because Ohio weather is so unpredictable, this rear-drive sedan was delivered to me in March wearing Pirelli Sottozero winter rubber. Oh, well.

I’d prefer a bit more power out of the 2.0L turbo, but 252 hp is adequate for most drivers. I had no problems getting to some unprintable speeds in some of the more deserted sections of the forest, as the Brembo brakes gave plenty of confidence to whoa should wildlife rudely present itself.

The beauty of every Genesis I’ve driven is the ease of use in everyday driving. The infotainment layout is basically identical to every current Hyundai – it’s intuitive and quick to respond. Steering wheel controls, too, are basically identical, though the knobs and buttons are of a nicer metallic material (possibly actual metal?) versus the rubber and plastic found on plebian models. The interior is attractive and roomy – enough room even with the rear floor bisected by a propshaft tunnel for the improbably tall tween to sit without her knees in my back.

And thank you, Genesis, for including a real hand-operated parking brake with your manual transmission. I’m sure that with hill-holding mechanisms, a modern electric parking brake is acceptable for most, but I’d rather have the assurance that I can easily control the rear brakes independently.

It’s a handsomely styled sports sedan, too. It’s not flashy, and in this subdued Himalayan Gray easily blends into traffic, but everything just looks right – save the silly fake front fender vent.

This is where I’d normally wander over to the build-and-price tool on the manufacturer’s website and tell you how I’d choose my car were I to buy. No need here – there are no options on the G70 Sport with the manual transmission save floor mats, wheel locks and the like. The manual transmission is a $3,000 step up from the slushbox, but otherwise this might qualify for Mr. Guy’s Ace of Base series. I’d choose one of the shades of blue, probably.

I’m struggling to find anything truly negative about the G70. I’ll concede on one point – when I’m committing to pay nearly forty thousand of my hard-earned imaginary dollars for a luxury sports sedan, I don’t know that I’d like to come back for service where there’ll likely be a ratty Hyundai Excel (complete with the car’s equally ratty owner) in the next bay. Not judging – my budget is more in the ratty Excel range at this point – but the dealership experience is typically better when looking at the German and Japanese rivals.

Further, I’d like the option of a manual transmission with the big engine. I loved the twin-turbo V6 in the very similar Kia Stinger, but I know the driving experience would be even more rewarding with a bit more driving involvement. The power in this turbo four is enough for most, but for some, excessive power is just enough. I’d love to see a track-focused G70 someday.

For now, though, I’d be quite happy with the Genesis G70 Sport as my only car. It’s quiet, comfortable, and roomy for daily chores, but is all too happy to play when called upon. Sometimes the last one standing is still standing for a reason.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Orange260z Orange260z on May 02, 2019

    "...when I’m committing to pay nearly forty thousand of my hard-earned imaginary dollars for a luxury sports sedan, I don’t know that I’d like to come back for service where there’ll likely be a ratty Hyundai Excel (complete with the car’s equally ratty owner) in the next bay." I'd say that this is my biggest beef with my current Cadillac CTS; there isn't enough differentiating my service experience from that of an Aveo or Cavalier owner. When I take my wife's Mazda CX-5 in for service, I don't have the same expectations. My expectations are based on the car that I'm driving - I expect a higher level of service and amenities if buy a "premium" car than if I buy a "standard" car. I'm not only paying for the hard product, I'm paying for the experience. In 2000, I bought a Mazda Millenia S. It was a beautiful car, meticulously assembled, and priced to match - I believe it was around C$45K in 2000, which was as much as a BMW 328i at that time. I traded the car in for a similarly-priced Lexus IS300 within a year, largely due to the service experience. At Mazda, it was a first-come, first-serve line up with 20 other Mazda owners; at Lexus it was two dedicated "concierge" service advisors. Lexus would hand me keys to a complimentary loaner, washed and gassed; Mazda directed me to the nearest bus stop and told me to read the schedule on the pole. Lexus invited me to dressy parties with jazz music, hors d'ouevres, and wine; Mazda would invite me to sales event they would hand me a hot dog and a sales guy in a cheap suit would try to get me to trade to the "completely new" 2001 model of the same car. I hope that Hyundai/Genesis can differentiate this experience like Lexus did, I think this will have a big impact (along with, ugh, SUVs) on their sales. I'd definitely consider one.

  • MorrisGray MorrisGray on Dec 10, 2019

    Does the GTI have more rear seat leg room??? I want a fun-to-drive car, power desired but not required, manual transmission vehicle to use as an every day driver but also to drive on vacation and I want the backseat to accommodate someone for an hour or more of comfort. .... I also want a car that is reliable and that I will enjoy for ten plus years like my current 2006 Mazda3 5sp manual. .... If Toyota had a manual in the new Camry with the naturally aspirated motor, that is probably what I would buy!

  • 1995 SC How bout those steel tariffs. Wonder if everyone falls into the same camp with respect to supporting/opposing them as they did on the auto tariffs a few weeks ago. Doubt it. Wonder Why that would be?
  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.
  • Norman Stansfield Automation will make this irrelevant.
  • Lorenzo Motor sports is dead. It was killed by greed.
  • Ravenuer Sorry, I just don't like the new Corvettes. But then I'm an old guy, so get off my lawn!😆