Genesis G70 Saloon review
For years, the German car makers have had a monopoly on the compact executive saloon market. The BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class dominate this sector of the industry to such an extent that they sometimes find themselves among the UK’s most popular models, up there with the Ford Fiestas and Nissan Qashqais. But as a result, these cars have become a bit predictable and unimaginative. Sure, they’re brilliant, but where’s the exclusivity?
That’s where the chasing pack comes in. For those who want a four-door saloon that isn’t German, it has long been a shootout between Jaguar, Lexus and Volvo. But now there’s a new option from South Korea, and it’s called the Genesis G70. Built using know-how from sister company Hyundai, it’s here to compete with the Jaguar XE and Volvo S60, but is it good enough to match its European counterparts?
Select's rating score* - 3 / 5
At a Glance
The G70 slots right into the executive saloon arena. Like its rivals, it comes with a classy, understated design, with a hint of fastback styling draped over an essentially conventional three-box saloon-car shape. It isn’t the most exciting thing to look at, but it isn’t ugly either, and it will never look out of place alongside a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The highlight is the interior, which feels cleaner and calmer than most executive saloons, but just as high-quality. The materials and fit and finish are every bit as good as in a Mercedes-Benz, and although tech is not the focus, you still get a natty digital instrument display and a big central touchscreen with a high-definition display.
Where the G70 falls down is in the driving experience. Genesis has aimed for comfort and narrowly missed, providing a reasonable ride on longer undulations but a more unsettled feel over sharper potholes. And while the car handles acceptably on a good back road, it doesn’t have the poise of a BMW. Nor does it have the engines, with customers forced to pick between a 2.2-litre diesel or a 2.5-litre petrol. There are no smooth 3.0-litre options and no low-emission plug-in hybrids. Not too sure which engine is for you? We've got you covered with our guide on which fuel type suits you best.
Genesis knows it can’t compete with the likes of Volvo and Lexus on brand image alone – it simply isn’t established enough to do that – so it’s trying to offer customers a different experience to the existing contenders. That’s why there’s so much focus on the interior design, which feels cleaner and more modern than anything from Jaguar or Lexus, and on a par with the stunning Volvo cabins.
That’s partly down to the way technology is integrated, with a big central touchscreen and digital instrument cluster, but Genesis has shied away from going overboard. Where DS likes to hide heater controls in the touchscreen, Genesis has placed them in the conventional location and fitted physical dials to adjust the temperature. It’s much more intuitive, and therefore less distracting, and it’s a shining example for other manufacturers to follow.
Performance & Drive
The G70 range offers customers a simple choice between two 2.0-litre petrol engines and a 2.2-litre diesel. All three are four-cylinder turbocharged engines that power the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and both have roughly the same amount of power.
The ‘entry-level’ option is a 2.0-litre petrol engine, which produces 197hp and 353Nm of torque, allowing it to haul the G70 from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 139mph. The 2.2-litre diesel is a tad faster, with 200hp permitting a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds, but the 2.0-litre ‘Plus’ petrol engine is even faster, cutting the acceleration time to a Golf GTI-rivalling 6.1 seconds and upping the top speed to 149mph.
But despite those figures, the G70 is not a sporty car. The chassis has been tuned for comfort, so there’s quite a lot of body roll and the steering is almost alarmingly light in its normal mode. If you want an executive saloon that’s fun to drive, this is nowhere near as good as a BMW 3 Series or a Jaguar XE.
And while Genesis says comfort is the aim of the game, the G70 still doesn’t ride quite as well as a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The soft springs are great over long undulations and they work quite well on the motorway – as long as you don’t choose the Sport model with its 19-inch alloys – but the ride is less composed over potholes or really broken surfaces. It just feels a bit jiggly – particularly at the rear.
All that said, the compromise between ride and handling isn’t all that bad. There’s plenty of power, and the G70 is no worse to drive or to ride in than a Volvo S60 in R-Design trim. It’s just beaten by other models in every area.
Running Costs & Emissions
For those seeking the most efficient G70, the diesel is the obvious choice. That 2.2-litre engine allows the car to return more than 40mpg on a long run, without sacrificing too much in terms of performance. It’s only worth its salt for those regularly travelling long distances, however, because the lower price of petrol (everything’s relative) and lower purchase price makes unleaded the fuel of choice for those covering fewer miles.
With no plug-in hybrid or electric models currently available, the G70 makes little sense as a company car. Predictably, the diesel churns out fewer grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled, at 170g/km, than the petrol, but it’s still going to be far more expensive to tax than, say, the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. Think an EV might be a better choice for your lifestyle? Take a look at our guide on how to choose an electric car to find out more.
Interior & Technology
One of the G70’s key charms is its modern, luxurious interior, which is awash with high-quality materials and exemplary engineering. The cabin is smart and well appointed, with lots of leather (or at least leatherette) and a big touchscreen, as well as a digital instrument display. Genesis has avoided going overboard with the technology, though, with conventional heater controls and a simple gear selector.
But the South Korean company hasn’t skimped on craftsmanship, bestowing the G70 with some fabulous attention to detail. All the buttons and switches feel like quality items, and all the panels fit together perfectly. And although there are one or two questionable plastics lying around, the G70’s materials are generally excellent, and this is a car worthy of its place in the luxury saloon sector.
Similarly, the technology is very solid, with an excellent digital instrument cluster that’s clean and classy, albeit imbued with a whiff of knock-off Bentley. The touchscreen is excellent, however, with logical menus and a clean display, but it doesn’t feel quite as impressive as the system found in the GV70 SUV or the GV60, GV80 and G80 models. Partly because it’s essentially a jazzed-up Hyundai system. Even so, the screen works perfectly, and you can’t fault it for that.
It’s a shame the G70 didn’t get the GV70’s part-touchscreen climate control system, too, because that’s a really cool, cleverly devised unit that incorporates physical and touch-sensitive switchgear in just the right way. Instead, the G70 ‘makes do’ with conventional switches all round, but again, we can’t complain too much. It’s intuitive, it works well and it all feels well engineered.
Practicality & Boot Space
While the G70 might be luxurious inside, it isn’t especially spacious. The front seats offer plenty of adjustability and a comfortable driving position, but the back seats are nowhere near as commodious. The swooping roofline means headroom is at a premium, and while legroom is better, it’s still no more than adequate.
Boot space is lacking, too, with a boot measuring just 330 litres. You do get more from the Shooting Brake model, which also offers more rear headroom, but it’s still far from ideal. Even a VW Golf provides more boot space than the G70, and when it comes to luggage capacity, a Volvo S60 looks like a car from a class above. Even with a space-sapping plug-in hybrid system on board.
The G70 shares its five-star Euro NCAP score with the G70 Shooting Brake, which is more or less identical aside from the rear-end design. As a result, the G70 inherits the Shooting Brake’s 89% score for adult occupant protection and a similarly impressive 87% score for child occupant protection. Should the worst happen, the G70 is going to provide as strong a cocoon as possible for you and your nearest and dearest.
But to help ensure things never get that far, Genesis has bestowed a wealth of driver assistance systems on its executive saloon. The G70 comes with a fleet of sensors, blind-spot monitoring and an autonomous emergency braking system as standard, all to help warn you of approaching hazards and, if necessary, take avoiding action for you.
The car also comes with lane-following technology that works with the cruise control to command steering and throttle inputs in one lane of a motorway. It can’t change lane or do anything too fancy, but it’s intended as a safety net in case your attention wanders on a long drive.
It’s also worth mentioning that all this equipment is completely standard. Even the cheapest, most basic G70 gets all this equipment and more.
The G70 range is relatively simple, with its binary choice of engines and three-tier model line-up that kicks off with the Premium grade. That comes with 18-inch alloy wheels (17-inch alloy wheels for the diesel), leatherette upholstery and the 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You also get climate control, a digital instrument display and a reversing camera, as well as rear parking sensors and all the standard safety kit.
Step up to the Luxury trim and you get 18-inch alloys regardless of engine choice, while heated seats and a heated steering wheel are thrown in as standard. The boot opens electronically, too, and you get proper leather on the seat facings.
But the range is crowned by the Sport model, with its sportier appearance and dark chrome trim, as well 19-inch alloy wheels and Brembo brakes. Metal pedals and a limited-slip differential round out the highlights.
The options list isn’t especially long, but customers who choose the Premium model can have the Innovation Pack, including a head-up display and front parking sensors, or the Convenience pack with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. There are some great colour options, too, including some lovely reds, greens and blues, while the interior customisation options are surprisingly numerous.
It’s impossible to mention a saloon of this shape and size without talking about the three big-hitting Germans. The BMW 3 Series is a masterful piece of engineering and a fantastic car to drive, while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is all about ride comfort and style. The Audi A4, meanwhile, is a German ode to technology and build quality. They’re all different and delectable in their own ways, and each will appeal to a different kind of customer.
But such is the popularity of those cars that they can’t appeal to every customer, and its those customers that the Genesis G70 is really built for. But it has to fend off competition from the Volvo S60, which is a stylish and comfortable alternative to the sportier Jaguar XE.
Both come with historic badges and attractive bodywork, but both cars are different in their approach. Whereas the Jag is arguably the best driver’s car in the segment, the Volvo is all about style and tech.
Those two cars aren’t the only competition the G70 faces. You can’t discount the slightly less upmarket but no less capable Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat, which are almost on a par with the premium brands in terms of quality and styling. The Mazda, meanwhile, is also a fantastic car to drive, albeit less balanced than the rear-wheel-drive XE, C-Class and 3 Series.
Verdict & Next Steps
It won’t surprise anyone to find the G70 isn’t as good as the equivalent BMW or Mercedes product, and nor does it have the outright appeal of the Volvo S60 and Jaguar XE. But don’t discount it because of that. It’s good enough to be mentioned in the same breath, and although it has flaws, some of its less critical quirks only serve to make it more interesting than its rivals. It’s a strong first effort from the new kid on the block.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Genesis G70 Saloon
**Correct as of 16/06/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3,604.14 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.