Glad to see this is happening as reliability is my biggest concern with the G70 being such a new car.
I need to get one thing out of the way first: I didn't vote for the Genesis G70 to be MotorTrend Car of the Year. I was part of the underground movement trying to award it to the Honda Insight hybrid. But our effort was Sparta defending Thermopylae: valiant but doomed. And in the end, I can honestly say I'm fine with the Genesis having won. It deserved the honor of being the first South Korean vehicle to win an OTY award, and it won fair and square.
But this also means, dear reader, that my year-long loan period will not be a wet kiss to Hyundai's luxury brand. Sure, a fanboi would wax lyrical about the latest entry into the hotly contested "Is the G70 better than a BMW 3 Series?" battle (Answer: Yes, as seen in a recent comparison test)
From my perspective, however, this means I may be a bit more judicious in describing my year-long experience (I can hear our VP of advertising sales screaming from his palatial office in Detroit as I type this). But that circumspect tone will only serve to help you better, in terms of defining the nascent Genesis brand's place in the automotive world, and answering the questions that many of you have about this upstart entry:
Is the G70 just a Hyundai (or Kia) with better leather seats and stereo?
Is the G70 worth the price?
Is the G70 as good as the Germans or the Japanese?
Is the G70 service experience more like Lexus, or Hyundai?
And so on.
Trust me, over the course of the year, these questions will be answered. Just because a car wins Car of the Year doesn't mean it cannot have faults. We will find them and call them out. You only hurt the ones you love, after all.
But we will also celebrate the G70's victories, smart plays, and savvy decisions. And there are many, otherwise it never would have reached the top of our podium.
In ordering our COTY representative for a year-long loan, it was tempting to see if we could get a value-packed base model G70 with a 2.0-liter turbo-four to see if we could underprice a loaded Honda Accord (you can, BTW, as a base G70 starts at $35,895, and you can spec an Accord EX-L 2.0T all the way up to $36,034).
But the enthusiasts in the office (and my right foot) voted for the tire-melting 3.3-liter 365-hp, 376-lb-ft V-6 version. Turns out Genesis allows you to create a value-packed V-6 version, as well, for thousands (and thousands and thousands) less than the German triad. So, well done, there. The folks at Genesis must get up very early in the morning.
The G70 RWD 3.3T Elite sport sedan we ordered comes in at $43,750, plus $1,750 for the Elite package and $995 destination, totaling $46,495.
Sharp-eyed readers will see the price above and flip back to the October issue of MotorTrend, where Jonny Lieberman raved about the G70's platform-sharing, slightly larger cousin—the Kia Stinger GT—which crossed the pricing scanner at $50,100. This pricing paradox for two nearly identically equipped vehicles, the more expensive one coming from the mass-market brand, is something that should be reconciled in Seoul. If Toyota priced a Lexus ES cheaper than a Camry XLE, heads would roll in Nagoya.
So, what do you get with a G70 for 46 large? A lot.
The throaty V-6 is mated to an eight-speed shift-by-wire automatic transmission with paddle shifters and rev match, along with a limited-slip differential. The 19-inch wheels are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires and clamped by Brembo ventilated front and rear disc brakes.
Lighting features include full LED headlights and taillights, automatic high beams, LED running lights, and LED turn indicator lights on the power-folding side mirrors.
Full leather seats provide the driver with 16-way adjustment and four-way lumbar support (the passenger seat gets a 12-and-4 adjustment pattern). Both driver and passenger get heated and ventilated seats.
A scan of the interior shows aluminum interior trim, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather, and dual-zone climate control. Information comes from a 7.0-inch instrument panel screen and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and satellite radio blasting through a 15-speaker Lexicon stereo. There are three USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity.
The G70's smart cruise control brings the Genesis all the way to a dead stop. Safety features include seven airbags (including driver's kneebag), forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic collision warning, lane keeping assist, driver attentiveness warning, and a rearview camera with parking guidelines.
Adding the Elite package nets rain-sensing wipers, parking distance warning, a "wide" sunroof, and a wireless charging pad.
In total, that's a lot of stuff in a well-priced package. This is no stripped-down version designed to lure in someone who just wants the cheapest V-6 engine in the segment. This is value, pure and simple. As for how this package performs, stay tuned.
The first long-term update for a vehicle added to the MotorTrend garage is when we list all the vital testing information about our new vehicle. Our shiny new Genesis G70 3.3T should have had about 2,000 miles on the clock by now, with a dash out to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana to run the gamut of 0-60, 60-0, quarter-mile, skidpad, and figure-eight tests.
Except in the case of our 2019 MotorTrend Car of the Year winner, you're going to have to wait another month. Because it broke. Twice.
It's almost ironic. When we named the Alfa Romeo Giulia our 2018 Car of the Year winner, the peanut gallery snarked about how our delicate Italian confection would be spending all its time in the shop. Except it didn't. It ran great for a year and 22,000-plus hassle-free miles.
And now, we have a car from Genesis—winner of the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study over every other brand—that has spent nearly a month in the shop with serious problems.
It all started in my driveway, in which I back uphill to a street, and, once I back out, I am then facing uphill. An interesting task for any transmission. Except that, when cold, the Genesis 3.3T would shift from reverse into drive with an ominous clunk. Whereupon, when driving for the first five minutes, the eight-speed automatic transmission would be plagued with random shift patterns out of context with its duty cycle.
More seriously, when asked for forceful acceleration (necessary when turning left from my quiet residential street onto a major artery), the transmission would seemingly slip and fail to deliver propulsion, while engine revs would scream to redline. This would happen for a terrifying three-Mississippi count as I drifted into cross traffic, until the tranny would sort itself out with another clunk and finally deliver power.
Once warmed up, or on a longer drive, there were no issues. The powertrain delivered prompt, rapid acceleration. Thus, I thought this was a teething problem and would sort itself out. But the issue started happening more frequently, about half the mornings I asked it to do this, and at the 1,200-mile mark I took it to the local Genesis (read: Hyundai) dealer. I also informed Genesis PR of the issue.
The instant Lexus-like response: Replace the transmission, and the transmission control unit. The instant un-Lexus-like service: Oil-stained seats.
Still, problem solved, yes?
pon return of the car, the G70 still didn't feel right. It felt significantly slower than before. Although the transmission was no longer lurching and performing erratically, it felt like the power delivery was restricted.
So we ran it through some preliminary performance tests. It ran much slower than all G70 3.3Ts that we had tested to date. In fact, road test editor Chris Walton forgot he was in a V-6 3.3 twin turbo and thought he was running a G70 2.0T single-turbo four-banger, the results were that much slower.
Back to the dealership it went. Diagnosis: a leaking turbocharger hose. Fixed, with free loaner car delivered and retrieved at the MT office. That's more like it.
Are these one-off problems? Hard to tell. Most consumer forums love the G70 (as we did at COTY). I checked the NHTSA database and—perhaps it's a function of our current laissez-faire regulatory environment—Genesis isn't even listed among the world's automakers in the drop-down menu for "file a complaint by keyword," although you can search for recalls by VIN, and it recognizes that Genesis exists.
Meanwhile, the G70 has since been thundering around Los Angeles' South Bay, roared out to this year's COTY testing as a shuttle vehicle, and in all senses seems to be in fine fettle.
How fine? Check in next month for our test results.
By now we know the general consensus which is largely positive. I doubt their experience will change much from that.I'm looking forward to reading it too, hopefully it's been smooth driving for them.
Having returned from the dealership to solve some baffling transmissions issues, our long-term Genesis G70 now appears ready to romp around Los Angeles, its snarling 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 full of energy and excitement.
As such, we were ready to take our still-minty Genesis out to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana for instrumented testing. Sure, we had already tested the G70 for our 2019 Car of the Year competition, but those results were taken at the Hyundai-Kia California Proving Grounds, where the high summer temperatures made the results worthy of asterisks.
Our tester's patience was rewarded. At Fontana, we nailed down some pretty impressive numbers for a $46,495 car costing substantially less than similar-performing European rivals.
The G70 3.3T's 0-60 acceleration clocked in at 4.5 seconds. The quarter-mile run came through in 13-flat at 108.5 mph. That puts it in a bit of in-between. While markedly quicker than the comparably priced Lexus IS 350 F Sport RWD and Infiniti Q50 3.0t, the G70 is a shade slower than the BMW M340i and Mercedes-AMG C43 that cost $10,000 to $15,000 more.
Is that quick enough for you? Road test editor Chris Walton noted, "One of those stealthy-quick cars people won't suspect, and you can shock them with the acceleration. We got a strong one. Launch control works rather well. Revving to 2,250 rpm, and immediately releasing the brake almost produces some wheelspin and shoves you back in the seat. Upshifts are quick and smooth."
As for slowing down, the G70's best 60-0 braking distance of 109 feet is Subaru WRX STI turf. Walton described the G70 as having an "aggressive pedal jump-in, crisp bite, minor dive, some ABS noise, but little vibration, and always straight. Some odor after several quarter-mile passes, but no degradation."
Roaring around the figure-eight resulted in a posted 24.9 seconds @ 0.77 g (avg). That's on par with the aforementioned AMG C43 4Matic, as well as the Jaguar XE 35t R-Sport, which we lauded for its exceptional handling.
And for all you brand snobs out there, all the above G70 times and distances are just a hair better than those of the G70's longer, platform-sharing cousin, the Kia Stinger GT.
Testing director Kim Reynolds described it as such: "Lots of fun hanging the tail out, but it would probably scare most people half to death. I was upshifting early from 3rd to 4th on late corner exit to calm down the stern and bring it back into line. Good brakes, predictable, 'OK-plus' steering behavior, a bit iffy lateral seat support. But the whole shebang is dominated by tail-happiness (tail-euphoria). I don't recommend the average consumer turn off ESC."
Wailing around the skidpad is one thing. But do these tendencies replicate on city streets? Yep.
My daily commute up Pacific Coast Highway through the South Bay beach cities involves lots of threshold-braking panic stops as impatient drivers dart and weave to get that extra car-length advantage between stoplights. In this instance, brake control is just as important as stopping distance, and the G70 is calm and precise, never panicky.
And when I suffer my own dart-and-weave impatience, a quick twist of the drive-mode knob into Sport results in snappy acceleration and downshifts without delay.
However, that relative lack of cornering grip, when combined with the V-6's strong 365 hp and 376 lb-ft, means sharply entering PCH traffic flow from a side street often results in the powertrain overpowering the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 255/35/ZR19 tires, producing wheelspin and traction control intervention.
The lesson here is rather counterintuitive: If there's no traffic, you can enjoy a wee slide if your hands are quick. But when you're merging into a small hole in the midst of heavier congestion, being deliberate and rolling into the throttle, rather than mashing it to the firewall, may result in a more precise outcome.
What we are rapidly finding is that, in a performance-per-dollar equation, the Genesis G70 3.3T is one of the best values on the market.
Receiving delivery of a new car should be a celebratory occasion. So imagine my distress, on my first day of striding across the company parking lot to my shining-new, MotorTrend Car of the Year-winning, Genesis G70 … and discovering a massive, vulgar seagull scat plastered across the hood.
An omen? In some cultures, such avian offense actually means good luck. And after some initial teething problems, the G70 has performed flawlessly.
I am continually surprised by the horsepower-plus-luxury-per-dollar equation this car delivers. Typically, if you want 365 hp of sweet turbocharged six-cylinder goodness wrapped in luxury leather and tech features galore, you are spending well north of $50K (especially if the brand is German). But the Genesis G70 3.3T, as tested, weighs in at $46,495. That, friends, is value.
The staff is learning its way around some of the Hyundai-borne technology, such as the semi-autonomous smart cruise system. When lolling through the morning traffic of L.A. 's South Bay beach cities, the Genesis system is among the industry's best at gauging following distance and the initiation of slowing down, stopping, and re-engaging with traffic—without leaving a too-large gap that invites others to dive in front.
However, as features editor Scott Evans discovered on a road trip to Palm Springs, that smart cruise is less capable on open freeways prone to surging speeds. This is especially true when smart-cruising at a free-flowing 80 mph and there are unexpected brake lights about a half-mile ahead—and then waiting (and waiting) for the Genesis to recognize that those brake lights aren't for cars slowing down … they've stopped. By the time the G70 recognized the situation, the braking was a bit aggressive, making Evans hope the driver behind him was paying attention.
To be sure, many cars' semi-autonomous systems still struggle with this issue, under varying conditions. In the case of the G70's irritatingly delayed reaction time, Evans finally just switched the system off rather than have to constantly hover his foot over the brake pedal just in case the car's reaction time was too slow for his comfort.
Otherwise, the G70's infotainment and interior layout are smart. The detents of the toggles, the sweeps of the switches and stalks, and the smooth clicks of the knobs provide a sense of elegance. Transitions between vehicle systems (such as satellite radio or Genesis' excellent live-traffic map) to and from texting or calls in Apple CarPlay are handled cleanly and without fuss.
And while the leather seats are supportive and comfortable, the G70's hip-point-to-headliner ratio seems proportioned to a 90th percentile Korean driver, rather than to a 6-foot-1 American with high hair that continually brushes the headliner's sunroof cutout.
Speaking of omens, the Genesis delivered a second one more recently. As I hopped in the G70 on my way to work one brisk December morning, with SiriusXM streaming through the crisp 15-speaker, 660-watt Lexicon stereo, Eminem dashblasted me with "Lose Yourself." Later that day, I was named editor-in-chief of MotorTrend. You only get one shot. Do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime. You said it, Marshall.
That the Korean car industry has made stunning strides in quality is no recent event, but some folks still haven't heard about it. After fighting the same "cheap tin can" arguments faced and overcome by the Japanese automakers some 20 years prior, Hyundai stunned industry-leading Toyota in having fewer defects in the 2004 JD Power & Associates Initial Quality Survey.
Hyundai built on its quality reputation from there, most recently with the Genesis luxury brand winning JD Power's brand award for having the best initial quality in 2019.
That left me pondering what happened on the assembly line the day our MotorTrend Car of the Year-winning Genesis G70 rolled to completion. We've already documented the issues with the transmission, but we had yet to find an answer to why the windshield wipers worked so erratically. The driver's-side wiper, specifically.
Any time a driver would activate the wipers, the arc of the driver's-side wiper left a huge expanse of unreached water on the lower corner of the windshield, while making an accompanying thwack sound as it reached the apogee of its arc. Thing is, it hardly rains in California, so there was no urgent motivation to take it to a dealer to check it out.
Enter Kim Reynolds, MotorTrend testing director and someone who loves a challenge. We had a short-term loaner G70 for another test, so we lined them up side by side. What do you know … as you can see from the photos, in Kim's words: "The arms themselves are reversed on the long-term car versus the identical short-termer. The blades are the correct sizes and are on the correct sides but will have to be switched when the arms are swapped."
But I wasn't done there. As there have been quite a few errors with this supposedly high-quality vehicle, (a converse of often-mocked Alfa Romeo Giulia, which had nary an issue during its year with us), I dug a little deeper.
Or G70's date of manufacture was October 4, 2018. Would there have been any news of import that would have been a distraction to factory workers? Typhoon Kong-rey was lurking off the coast. Peace talks with North Korea were about to get underway. And former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption—but that's not as big a deal as it sounds, as he was the country's fourth ex-leader convicted of said offense.
So I called Genesis PR. It's a truism that it's best to avoid any brand-new vehicle in its first model year, no matter which brand. Teething problems usually need to get sorted, as we are discovering with our G70. Turns out, our unit was around the 6,500th down the assembly line. Hardly the first, but still a relatively early build. Hopefully more recent buyers are having better luck.