The ballots are counted and the verdict is in: the Genesis G70 was been voted by our jury of more than 20 automotive experts as autoTRADER.ca’s 2020 Best Luxury Compact Car.
This was our first time assessing luxury compacts on their own as part of this annual awards program, and we considered and evaluated every single car in this segment before voting on a winner. The G70 was up against some stout finalists, which the jury shortlisted to advance to the final stage of voting: the BMW 3 Series, Volvo S60, Audi A4, and the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
So, how was the G70 able to win over our judges when it was up against that impressive lineup? You might need to drive one yourself to fully understand, but it hits all the hallmarks of what a luxury compact car should be and it elevates the brand and the segment as a whole. It’s clear that Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury brand, wasn’t interested in mediocrity – it wanted to be the best and it didn’t cut any corners or make any glaring compromises to get there.
“With a full host of active driver aids, an excellent Lexicon stereo, and supportive seats finished in lovely quilted leather, the Genesis represents stellar value,” said autoTRADER.ca’s Jeff Wilson in his assessment of the G70 relative to the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. (He evidently missed the memo that, where luxury is concerned, “value” is a naughty word. But he’s right to use it; its influence cannot be denied here.)
“It’s a great looking car,” he adds, “with an aggressive stance and well-balanced proportions.”
Two engines are available in a variety of configurations. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder produces 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and while all-wheel drive is standard, a sport model satisfies the enthusiasts with rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission.
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However, it’s the smooth and refined 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque from the 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6, matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission, that consistently wins over our experts.
“This top-trim engine is a marvel,” says autoTRADER.ca’s Tom Sedens in his review of the 2019 Genesis G70 3.3T Sport. “It has a nice growl when you fire it up. The car has plenty of power in every driving situation – you’ll never want for more. If you put the hammer down, you’ll experience the slightest amount of lag off the line and then the sensation of the hand of God pushing you back in your seat.”
In terms of usability, the G70 hits the right marks on layout and functionality.
“Analog gauges are tastefully understated, and the cockpit is noticeably without the ostentatious virtual 12-inch displays seemingly ubiquitous across the premium spectrum,” said autoTRADER.ca’s Lesley Wimbush in her first drive review. “Instead, there’s an uber-responsive standalone 8-inch touchscreen rising up from the leather-clad dashboard, and all its functions are also accessible by the redundant row of hard switchgear beneath. Busy and a bit dated, it’s nonetheless ergonomically simple to operate, and rounded metal knobs are finished with precise knurling. There are no cheap plastics to be found, nor is there any available wood. Surfaces are sleek, modern, and very well executed.”
How can a car win an autoTRADER.ca Award in a luxury category when it’s not even German – and when it didn’t even win one of our very own comparison tests? Although that comparison was executed by three knowledgeable autoTRADER.ca experts, throwing the opinions and experience of around 20 more automotive reviewers from across Canada into the mix certainly introduces the potential for different results. This is especially true when you consider that our experts looked at the whole segment of luxury compact cars before voting on a winner.
As for that whole not-German thing? The lure of an aspirational brand is real. But we’re not here to judge a car based on its brand cachet alone; we’re here to judge each vehicle on its merit and on the experience it provides versus the hard-earned money its buyers spend on it. The ideal luxury compact car should be a little bit of everything: a touch of sporty, a healthy dash of premium materials and finishes, and a whole lot of desirability, through logos or otherwise.
And again, while luxury brands generally abhor the concept of value, the G70’s return on investment is remarkable. Starting from $42,000 for the entry-level 2.0T Advanced model and topping out at $58,000 for the 3.3T Sport, Genesis prides itself not only on easy-to-understand all-in pricing but also on its white glove service: if you wish, you can test drive your car, sign for it and have it delivered, and even get it serviced without ever stepping foot in a brick-and-mortar storefront. After all, in today’s world, there’s no greater luxury than time.
While it doesn’t make the journey all the way to sports-performance dominance, and some much higher-priced competitors might outdo it in outright luxury, the G70 strikes a balance between these factors and the brand’s customer-oriented business model and reasonable all-in price are bonuses.
In short, the G70 excels as an all-rounder in this segment, executing its purpose gracefully and with focus, making it deserving of its title as Best Luxury Compact Car.