The best sports sedan you can buy

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The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

For decades, car companies from around the globe have been trying to replicate the BMW 3 Series. Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi, Lexus, Cadillac and other have all tried to match the iconic BMW’s well-rounded blend of comfort, excitement, interior quality and value. And for the longest time, no one could.

But despite the downfall of the sedan market as a whole, there’s a new renaissance in the sports sedan market. As BMW has lost its edge among automakers, hungry competitors have gotten closer. Alfa Romeo delivered the Giulia, an incredible-to-drive sedan that nevertheless was stunted by quality concerns. Tesla launched the Model 3, a once-in-a-generation gamechanger that’s as fun to drive as it is disruptive. It crushed BMW and everyone else in sales, but still came with its own series of compromises and quality concerns.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

That’s where the Genesis G70 steps in. With German dynamics, Japanese quality and a Korean value equation, consider it the compromise-free, perfected version of the internal-combustion sports sedan. It’s the car that finally, after decades, unseats the BMW 3 Series as the everyday enthusiast car to beat.

The good

As soon as you spot the G70, it’s already making good impressions. The styling language, first introduced back when Genesis was just a model of Hyundai, is well suited to the G70’s compact sports sedan dimensions. It’s aggressive, bullish and instantly distinguishable up front. The rear end is restrained and blends in, but that’s true of Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW sedans these days.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

Inside, it’s similarly impressive. Make no mistake, the interior design is not the best in its class, but everything is high-quality and well-positioned to make daily usage a breeze. It’s not anywhere near as visually impressive as a Mercedes C-Class, for instance, but it’s also not nearly as confusing to operate. It’s the kind of straightforward, expensive-feeling interior that used to define BMW.

More importantly, they’ve found the driving magic that BMW’s lost. From the driver’s seat, the G70 is spectacular. Our top-trim prestige tester came with a 365-horsepower, 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6 that was always ready to deliver serious passing power. It’s quick-shifting transmission certainly helped, but the real star was the chassis tuning.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

The G70 — much like BMWs of years past — manages to strike the perfect balance between sports sedan agility and luxury sedan softness. Steering is precise and well-weighted, with a lot more communication through the wheel than in a modern BMW 3 Series.

Plus, you’re not giving up anything in the way of creature comforts. All of the active safety features you’d expect are on board, as are cooled seats, premium speakers and a head-up display. And given Genesis’ spotless quality record so far, we’d also expect these systems to require less long-term maintenance than finicky German electronics.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

All of this, though, isn’t why the G70 is a game changer for the segment. The G70 matches entrenched rivals BMW, Mercedes, and Audi in several key areas and even beats them by some measures. That wouldn’t normally be enough to lure customers away from what they already know to a new brand.

But the G70’s price totally tips the scales. Even if you think it costs the same as a Mercedes or BMW — which we did at first, due to misreading a window sticker — the G70 holds up. It’s not quite as opulent as the Mercedes, but it delivers a better driving experience than either German sedan, better looks and tech that’s even easier to use.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

Despite all of that, though, the G70 is priced like an underdog. At $50,995, our top-of-the-line V-6 G70 was a whopping $8,925 cheaper than the last BMW 3 Series we tested and an absurd $12,530 cheaper than the last Mercedes C-Class we reviewed. The kicker: both of the Germans had base-spec engines with only four cylinders. Offering those kinds of savings despite more power and better dynamics is a winning formula.

The bad

The G70’s infotainment system is simple, clean, easy to navigate and fast. It’s also ripped straight out of a Hyundai. When Genesis is still trying to establish itself as a separate, desirable brand, it’s embarrassing to see essentially the same technology that’s in a cheap commuter car.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

Also, while we believe that the G70 offers pretty much everything you need in a modern luxury car, it doesn’t offer the various gimmicks and party tricks that the Germans enjoy. There’s no “Hey BMW” or gesture control and, sadly, no multicolor ambient lighting. This car is clearly designed to give you the most value for your money, so Genesis isn’t playing that game.

They’re also not diving into the high-performance market yet. While the G70 certainly drives better than any comparable Mercedes, BMW or Audi, Genesis doesn’t make a super-powered version to take on the BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C63. You may get a limited-slip differential and multiple drive modes, but you can’t have more than 365 horsepower.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

How we’d option it

Get the V-6, you deserve it. Sure, the four-cylinder can be paired with a manual transmission, but in limited experiences we haven’t loved the manual anyway. You might as well buy into some extra power when it’s cheap. And while most people don’t need all-wheel drive as much as they think they do, optioning it will certainly help with resale value.

Thankfully Genesis also includes all colors in the price, a welcome change from manufacturers who make you pay up to get a non-gray car. Our tester had the $4,300 Plite package, and we’d recommend it. You get all of the tech goodies you want without paying for the $5,600 sport package that, based on our drive, this car doesn’t need anyway.

All together, our G70 comes to $51,945.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

Final thoughts

At that price, it’s a tough deal to pass up. It looks great, it drives incredibly well and it feels like a truly luxurious product. Unless you can’t get over the idea of buying from an upstart brand or you’re ready to jump into the world of Tesla, we can’t see why you’d buy anything else.

Genesis has finally done what no one else could. The G70 is a killer product in a segment that once defined the luxury car market. Sure, compact sports sedans no longer define luxury brands like BMW, but Genesis’ ability to come in at the top of a hotly contested segment bodes well for the company’s future.

The 2020 Genesis G70

Mack Hogan | CNBC

Ratings:

Exterior: 4

Interior: 4

Driving Experience: 4.5

Value: 5

Overall: 4.4

Price as tested: $50,995

*Ratings out of 5.

2020-01-19 17:27:21

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