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2021 Genesis G70: why buying a 2020 or waiting for the ’22 might be wise

2020 Genesis G70

by Ed Piowtrowski and CarPreview Staff

What changes will make the 2021 Genesis G70 different?

Probably just new color choices and higher asking prices for this sporty sedan in the final season before an expected model-year 2022 refresh. The G70 is the entry-level model from the luxury Genesis division of South Korean automaker Hyundai.

The G70 was introduced for the 2019 model year to compete in the compact-premium-car segment against the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the class sales champ, the Tesla Model 3. It shares its engines with the Stinger four-door hatchback produced by Hyundai’s corporate partner, Kia, but its body is six inches shorter and two inches lower, and its wheelbase (the distance between front and rear axles) is a significant half foot.

That makes for cramped rear-seat legroom, but the G70’s maneuverable size, upscale styling, and solid road manners won over the automotive press and it captured the coveted North American Car of the Year award in 2019. The G70 sits below the midsize G80 and the full-size G90 in the Genesis lineup. The brand is poised to launch it first crossovers, the seven-passenger midsize GV80 in calendar 2020 and the five-seat GV70 in 2021.

The Genesis name first appeared on the Hyundai Genesis sedan in 2009 and became a separate brand in late 2015. That sedan was redesigned and rebadged the G80, while the Hyundai Equus sedan was reintroduced as the G90. Genesis struggled initially to establish a retail network, but sales were up 67 percent through the third quarter of 2019. The G70 is its most popular model – at least until the crossovers arrive – but still ranks in the lower half among some dozen competitors in its class.

Driving impressions and other subjective conclusions in this review are based on road tests of the 2020 Genesis G70. In areas where the ’21 might be different, we will reserve judgment.

Should I wait for the 2021 G70 or buy a 2020?

2020 G70

Buy a 2020. The ’21 is unlikely to change in any way worth waiting for. The ’20 will almost certainly cost less, and its styling and features should have a longer shelf life. A refreshed G70 is expected for model-year 2022. It should get updated styling and perhaps enhanced features, such as a larger infotainment screen, but major mechanical changes are unlikely. That makes the 2021 G70 a sort of lame duck, but still a darn attractive one.

Genesis should again demarcate the 2021 G70 roster by engine type: 2.0T Advanced and Sport models with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the 3.3T Advanced with a twin-turbo V-6. Rear-wheel drive will again be standard and all-wheel drive (AWD) available on Advanced models as a $2,000 option.

Expect the 2.0T Sport to again come only with rear-drive and only with manual transmission, a real rarity these days. In fact, for model-year 2020, it was the only premium compact car, and among the few cars of any type, available with a manual transmission.

Will the styling be different?

2020 G70

No. The G70 and the mechanically similar Stinger were penned by former Hyundai-Kia design chief Peter Schreyer, a one-time Audi designer who spearheaded the company’s product renaissance starting in the early 2010s. He did a fine job with the G70’s taut, racy proportions.

Sweeping, angular headlights and a large hexagonal grille are nods to its Hyundai heritage, but the overall design looks notably more upmarket, exactly what Genesis requires. The available 5- and 10-spoke 19-inch wheels are particularly attractive when set against bolder paint options Genesis calls Mallorca Blue, Havana Red, and Siberian Ice.

2020 G70

The G70 and Stinger share their basic instrumentation and control layout. The Kia has more visual flare, with round climate vents and flat-bottom steering wheel versus the Genesis’ more conservative square vents and round wheel. But the G70 wins for interior materials quality that rival most any in its competitive set. Nicely grained, soft-touch plastics abound, and the available quilted Nappa leather upholstery with contrast stitching would look at home in a car twice the price.

All 2021 G70 models will likely continue to use a tablet-style infotainment touchscreen and come with support for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. The system works well, with an intuitive interface and prompt response to user inputs. The screen’s 8-inch size, though, seems on the small side against premium-brand rivals adopting ultrawide displays 10 inches or more in diameter. The G70 deserves the 10-1/4-inch screen Kia is putting in many of its newer models, including the redesigned 2020 Soul hatchback and the new 2020 Telluride crossover. That’s unlikely for the 2021 G70 but could be part of the 2022 freshening.

2020 G70

Front-seat comfort is good, with adequate headroom and legroom. The available sport bucket seats have excellent lateral support, keeping you snugly in place during spirited driving. The back seat suffers from limited headroom and very tight legroom. Also disappointing is trunk space, near the bottom of the class at just 10.5 cubic feet. The opening is sufficiently wide, but the trunk isn’t very tall and that complicates loading and unloading bulky items.

Any mechanical changes?

2020 G70

Unlikely. The 2021 G70 2.0T models will return with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 252 horsepower (255 on the Sport M/T) and 260 pound-feet of torque. We haven’t yet evaluated a G70 with this engine, but expect acceleration generally comparable to rivals with turbo four-cylinder engines, such as the Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

The 2.0T Advanced trims will again use an eight-speed automatic transmission while the G70 2.0T Sport M/T, as its name implies, will have a six-speed manual transmission. It should continue also include performance-enhancing features such as Brembo-brand brakes with sport pads, 19-inch wheels on summer-only tires, a traction-aiding limited-slip differential, and a sport exhaust that accounts for extra 3 horsepower.

2020 G70 Sport M/T

The 2021 G70 3.3T Advanced should reprise a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

A G70 3.3T is outright fast, with neck-snapping acceleration from a stop and outstanding high-speed passing response. It also sounds great, producing a throaty burble at idle and a refined growl during acceleration. Credit also goes to the snappy automatic transmission, which on all G70s includes steering wheel paddles for manual-type gear control.

Sunbelt buyers are apt to shun AWD, but we recommend everyone consider it. With the ability to sense tire slip and automatically redistributed power from the rear wheels to the front, it provides an added measure of security in wet and snowy conditions. But it also enhances dry-road grip.

2020 G70

The 2.0T Advanced and the AWD 3.3T Advanced models should again come with 18-inch wheels and tires, chosen wisely by Genesis for a balance of handling and exceptional ride comfort.

Rear-drive 3.3T Advanced models and 2.0Ts with the Sport and Dynamic packages get 19 wheels with summer tires. It’s an option we hesitate to recommend. It includes an electronically controlled performance suspension that we don’t believe is tuned particularly well. In our evaluations, it contributed to a kidney-jarring ride even on seemingly smooth road surfaces. The standard suspension and tires are more than up to the task for everyday commuting and spirited driving alike.

Will fuel economy improve?

2020 G70

No, and that’s unfortunate. With no mechanical changes, the 2021 G70 will likely remain in the bottom half of its competitive set for fuel economy. Expect a repeat of the 2020 EPA ratings.

With rear-drive, the ’21 2.0T Advanced should again rate 22/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined with rear-wheel drive and 20/27/23 with AWD. Calibrated for more aggressive driving, expect the rear-drive-only ’21 2.0T M/T to rate 18/28/22.

Look for the 2021 G70 3.3T to again rate 17/26/20 mpg with rear-drive and 17/25/20 with AWD. Our AWD 3.3T review sample’s 18.2-mpg average was likely skewed somewhat by subfreezing temperatures during our evaluation period.

Expect Genesis top continue to recommend premium-grade 91-octane fuel for all 2021 G70s.

Will there be new features?

2020 G70

Unlikely, because there’s little to add. Every 2021 G70 should again come standard with a full complement of safety features, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, lane-departure alert with automatic steering correction, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive radar cruise control, and drowsy-driver warning.

Expect the 2.0T and 3.3T Advanced models to return with dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-way power driver’s seat, an 8-way power front-passenger seat, CarPlay, Android Auto, and three USB power points.

The ’21 2.0T Sport M/T and the rear-drive 3.3T Advanced should again come standard with Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential, a performance-tuned suspension, full LED headlights, Hyundai’s outstanding 15-speaker Lexicon audio system, driver-seat memory, power tilt and telescopic steering column, power-folding exterior mirrors, imbedded GPS navigation, and heated and ventilated front seats.

All AWD models will again get a heated steering wheel, with the 3.3T AWD substituting 18-inch wheels on all-season tires in place of 19s with summer-only treads.

Will 2021 prices be different?

Base prices will likely increase marginally due to year-over-year inflation. We expect Hyundai will hold the line on the cost of option packages after tweaking their pricing for model-year 2020.

For reference here are 2020 Genesis G70 prices, including the manufacturer’s $995 destination fee.

The 2020 2.0T Advanced started at $36,445 with rear-drive and at $38,445 with AWD. Base price for the 2.0T Sport M/T was $39,495. The ‘20 3.3T Advanced was priced from  $45,645 with rear drive and from $47,645 with AWD.

The Elite Package should return as a $4,600 option for the 2.0T and a $1,450 extra for the 3.3T. A 2.0T so equipped will have most of the equipment that’s already standard on the rear-drive 3.3T Advanced, such as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and imbedded navigation. Both models would receive a large sunroof and front- and rear-obstacle detection. The 3.3T would add a wireless smartphone charging pad, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a heated steering wheel.

Expect the Prestige Package to again cost $3,850 on the 2.0T and $2,850 on the 3.3T. The 2.0 would net rain-sensing wipers, heated steering wheel (on rear-drive models), and wireless smartphone charger. The 2.0 and 3.3 would add heated outboard rear seats, surround-view camera, head-up instrument display, and a microfiber suede headliner. The 3.3 would add a power trunk opener that pops the decklid if you stand behind the vehicle with the key fob in your purse or pocket.

A Sport Package for models with the automatic transmission would return for $1,550 on the 2.0 and $1,300 on the 3.3. Both would include unique exterior styling, with the 3.3 adding an electronically controlled performance suspension.

The 3.3T Design and Dynamic editions, which included the contents of the Elite and Prestige packages plus unique styling elements, were discontinued for 2020. We don’t anticipate they’ll return in ‘21.

When does it come out?

The 2021 Genesis G70 release date should be in the fall of 2020.

Best competitors

Alfa Romeo Gulia, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Tesla Model 3, Volvo S60

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]