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2022 Genesis G70 first drive review: New enough for now

While not a complete overhaul, Genesis' updated G70 is better in all the right ways.

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This matte gray is exclusive to the Launch Edition.

Genesis

Between the G80, GV80 and upcoming GV70 SUV, every new Genesis seems to be more impressive than the last. Freshened for 2022, the compact G70 doesn't get the full-zoot Genesis 2.0 overhaul, but a number of key changes make this luxury/sport sedan even easier to like.

The G70's glow-up starts with redesigned front and rear fascias, bringing this sedan's design in line with Genesis' newer products. I know some of you don't love the big grille or two-line headlights, but please, just accept the fact that you're wrong. Front to back, the G70 looks awesome, and photos really don't do it justice.

There's a fancy Launch Edition available for 2022, offered in matte gray or matte white, with unique 19-inch wheels and a black/red interior. Only 500 of these G70s will be sold -- half with rear-wheel drive, half with all-wheel drive -- building off the fully loaded Sport Prestige trim with the optional V6 engine.

That's not Genesis' new 3.5-liter V6, by the way; the G70 soldiers on with the same 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 as before. It offers plenty of shove, with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, and a new variable exhaust system is available on higher-spec 3.3T models, making the G70 a little louder in its Sport and Sport Plus settings. The sport exhaust allows the V6 to produce an extra 3 hp, too. Hold onto your butts, indeed.

An eight-speed automatic transmission offers smooth, well-timed shifts, with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters in case you feel like taking the DIY approach. The action of the paddles themselves isn't very satisfying, and weirdly, the moment the gear actually shifts doesn't seem to sync up with the movement of the tachometer needle, which is oddly jarring.

Looks good on the go.

Genesis

Higher-end Sport Prestige and Launch Edition G70s get adaptive dampers and a limited-slip differential, as well as larger Brembo brakes. The G70 3.3T also has launch control for some reason, and all-wheel-drive models can decouple the connection to the front axle, effectively making it rear-wheel drive. You know, for when you feel like getting all slidey.

On open highways and country roads, the G70 3.3T is lovely. The electronically controlled dampers keep the sedan smooth and supple on boring stretches of highway, but call up Sport mode and you'll get just enough added stiffness to make S-curves entertaining. The steering is plenty quick on turn-in, and while the Sport settings add a little more heft to the wheel's action, it's still pretty light across the board. In this loaded 3.3T spec with all the available performance aids, the G70 is as nice to drive as the segment's best -- more fun than an Audi S4 and not nearly as harsh as a Mercedes-AMG C43. If you still think the BMW 3 Series is the on-road benchmark for this class, it's time to give the G70 a try.

Genesis opened up a short course at California's Thermal Club for some hot laps, but track testing the G70 reveals more negatives than positives. The G70 leans hard while cornering, exaggerated body motions requiring patience before laying into the throttle on exit. The transmission is also kind of lazy when left to its own devices, though I suppose this is a rare case when you'll actually want to use the paddle shifters. Of course, I don't foresee any G70 owner taking their car to a track day, so this isn't likely to be a problem.

The 3.3-liter turbo V6 carries over from the old G70.

Genesis

If you don't need to eke out the G70's full performance potential, Genesis will continue to offer this sedan with a 2.0-liter turbo I4 base engine, making a relatively healthy 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Like the V6, the 2.0T can be paired with either rear- or all-wheel drive, though you can't get the variable exhaust, adaptive suspension or limited-slip diff.

The 2.0T no longer comes with a six-speed manual transmission option, which I'm sure sounds like a slap in the face to enthusiasts, though in reality, it's totally fine. Almost no one bought the old G70 with a stick-shift, and besides, that transmission was garbage anyway, with a soupy shifter and lousy clutch action. With the standard automatic, the RWD G70 2.0T is far more efficient, too, returning an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined.

Like Genesis' other models, the G70 comes with a huge list of standard driver-assistance tech -- more than you'll get on any German rival. You name it, it's standard: blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and lane-following assist, forward-collision avoidance, etc. Even Genesis' Highway Driving Assist is equipped on every G70, combining adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping tech. The only optional features are park distance warning (weird this one isn't standard), a 360-degree camera and the cool blind-spot cameras that project a live feed of what's next to you right in the gauge cluster.

New tech makes the interior even nicer.

Genesis

Speaking of the gauges, they're half digital. There's an 8-inch LCD display that incorporates vehicle information and a tachometer, with an analog speedometer and fuel gauge to the left. Honestly, I don't get this; the IP just looks lopsided. And seeing as how just about every other competitor in this space offers a fully digital experience (whether standard or optional), the G70's setup seems like a weird compromise.

Happily, the G70's old multimedia screen is gone and a larger 10.3-inch display rests atop the dash, running Genesis' latest infotainment technology -- the same stuff you'll find in the G80 and GV80. Embedded navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all included, and it's super easy to control the system via touch, though the redundant controls on the center console are a cinch to operate, too.

The rest of the G70's cabin is the same as it ever was: a little cramped, especially in the back, but pretty upscale overall. There's some nice detailing on the metal accents and I dig the diamond-stitched seat pattern on higher trims, but you won't find some of the finer elements from Genesis' larger cars, like knurled wiper and turn-signal stalks or open-pore wood. At least you can get the leather in colors other than black and gray. The red, tan and purple(!) options are all pretty great.

The G70 can be equipped with rear- or all-wheel drive.

Genesis

You can get into a 2022 G70 for $38,570, including $1,045 for destination, which undercuts the Audi A4, BMW 330i, Mercedes-Benz C300 and Volvo S60. Genesis offers way more standard equipment and advanced driving aids, and with its restyled exterior, it's definitely the looker of the bunch (though I'm still pretty partial to the Volvo).

Thing is, despite the G70's inherent goodness, it's about to be usurped. The 2022 GV70 is right around the corner, armed with better engines, better styling, a better interior and better tech, packaged in an altogether more desirable sleek-SUV shape. The updated G70? For sure, it's better than ever. But it won't be long until it's once again old news.


Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.