Ever since Hyundai spun Genesis off into its own premium brand, we’ve been trying to figure out where it best fits. While an Asian brand, it lacks the quirkiness of most of its Japanese equivalents. It’s also not flashy like most American luxury makes. That leaves Europe and, from an aesthetics perspective, that’s probably the region Genesis spends most of its time focused on beating. It’s easy to imagine that somewhere in South Korea there’s a boardroom filled with dozens of dart boards plastered with photos of the C-Class and 3 Series, each riddled with holes.
However, the fledgling brand lacked a midsize entrant and you can’t really throw down in that part of the world without one. Fortunately, the solution to the brand’s problems is almost ready. Called the G70, it was revealed Friday at the automaker’s design center in Namyang, Korea — and subsequently announced for North America in early 2018, as a 2019 model.
Just showing up won’t be enough, so Genesis has done everything it can to ensure buyers can have the G70 on their terms and at a reasonable price. The brand has already proven it can compete on the premium landscape with its G80 and G90, but with the way it talks about the new midsize, it’s starting to sound like it also wants to dominate it.
At launch, the G70 will be available with three powertrains — though we don’t expect to see the overseas-focused diesel in the United States. That leaves us with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 248 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. The latter is the same engine found in the uplevel G90 while the former is the Theta-II motor found in practically everything Hyundai makes.
The diesel is a 2.2-liter turbocharged inline-four yielding 200 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, and is unlikely to be missed by anyone in North America.
Essentially a softened and well-appointed Kia Stinger, the two models share a platform and powertrains. However, the difference is that the Genesis is likely to offer the “executive experience” without sacrificing much in the way of dynamics. While we’re hoping the brand can get away from the slightly numb steering associated with its larger cruising cousins, we don’t mind if the G70 isn’t as hard-edged as the Stinger.
Genesis claims the midsize can run from 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds (when equipped with the 3.3-liter V6) and kiss 167 mph. An eight-speed automatic transmission will come standard in the G70, though a manual option and a limited-slip differential exists for 2.0-liter turbo buyers.
Regardless of engine choice, both models are rear-wheel drive. You can splurge on all-wheel drive if you’re interested. Base model G70s are equipped with 18-inch Bridgestone all-season tires, but V6 trims will get 19-inch Michelin PilotSport 4s with four-piston Brembo front brakes and two-piston rears.
The G70’s dimensions are almost identical to that of Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class (184.5″ x 72.8″ x 55″) and, if we’re being honest, so are some of the design elements. This is worth mentioning because, while it’s not egregious by any stretch of the imagination, Genesis is plighted by an indistinct character. The G70 feels more like an amalgamation of good cars than a wholly unique automobile.
Then again, it’s not like every other upscale manufacturer hasn’t also looked to the Germans for pointers on how to build a luxury car. That’s the reason Japanese luxury models use alphanumeric designations and not sexy-sounding animal names. At any rate, the total package of the G70 might make this modest gripe irrelevant.
There is little worry that the Korean midsize would deliver anything dowdy. Previous Genesis interiors have been very good and the company is promising more of the same with premium materials throughout, including aluminum door handles, quilted leather door panels, metal speaker grills, superior touch surfaces, and Nappa leather seats. There’s an BMW-style 8.0-inch infotainment screen at the top of the center stack, with the system equipped for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration. The premium audio system is a Lexicon 15-speaker unit.
The difference will be that this interior is more driver-focused than Genesis’ previous examples — including the sportier steering we asked for. It also has launch control and dynamic torque vectoring, multiple drive modes, and a sound system design aimed at beefing up auditory grunt when you want it. Fake engine noises are a total gimmick but, if done well, they’re hard to put down in practice.
Remaining competitive with its technology, the G70 offers a comprehensive suite of driver assistance features. While the automaker hasn’t given us a complete rundown of what’s available, forward collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, and blind spot monitoring have all been added as part of the Genesis brand’s “Active Safety Control.” The company is also confident it can ace crash testing at both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Pricing will be announced closer to the market launch but expect the G70 to slightly undercut its competition. A grand or two less than BMW’s 3 Series would be a fair assessment. Of course, the Genesis will offer more standard equipment and a vastly superior warranty.
[Image: Genesis Motors]