When the Japanese automobile industry was just getting on its feet in the 1950s and 1960s, one of the ways it accomplished its goals was by emulating other manufacturers.
For example, the concept of assembly-line production, using just-in-time technology, was taken from General Motors, which introduced it during the Second World War.
Similarly, when companies like Honda and Toyota were developing (and perfecting) small displacement engines, they looked to Great Britain, where Austin, MG, Vauxhall and others had been building tough little one-litre engines for years.
Unfortunately for British manufacturers, their Japanese rivals learned their lessons well and beat them at their game. The gas-sipping small displacement engines coming out of Japan are absolute marvels of automotive technology and second to none.
Korean carmakers are essentially employing the same strategy, examining successful Japanese and European manufacturers and adapting the technology to their models. Korean cars from Hyundai and Kia are competitive and affordable – for the most part – but original they ain’t.
And that brings me to the Genesis G70.
Also manufactured by Kia and sold as the Stinger (Hyundai owns Genesis and Kia), the G70 is a mid-size sport sedan with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a turbo V6. It has a choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. My tester, the two-wheel-drive sport model, had the turbo V6, which develops 255 horsepower. Two transmissions are offered: six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic.
I drove the automatic and, aside from a rather silly shift setup and a little more engine noise than I would have expected, it was almost nothing to whine about.
The shift mechanism is mounted amidships and operates in the usual way – except that park is a separate button and you leave the shift lever in whatever position it was in while you were driving. Nothing untoward in that, I suppose, but it strikes me as form over function and pointless – change for its own sake.
I’ve seen this feature on other products – Infiniti comes to mind – and it leads me to my main observation about the G70 and virtually everything else coming out of Hyundai these days: this company is in lockstep with any and all automotive trends and fashions.
For example, the nanny features are overwhelming – just like every other model in this segment. When you’re driving, you’re incessantly subjected to a barrage of warning chimes, beeps and flashing lights. Get too close to the car in front and a buzzer goes off. Stop too abruptly and the car takes over, practically putting you through the windshield.
I found this car to be one of the most unrelaxing vehicles I’ve ever driven. It seems Hyundai engineers installed all this crap because everyone else is but haven’t quite got it right. I found myself longing for a no-frills, seat-of-the-pants sports sedan that actually lets the driver enjoy the car’s engineering and have some fun with it.
But I must give credit where it’s due. The G70 handles nicely and has a good sense of balance. It holds the road well and is comfortable behind the wheel. And no complaints with the interior layout, which is nicely executed.
And, as you might expect, you get your money’s worth. For its $45,000 starting price, the G70 provides all you could ask for in terms of modern conveniences. Unfortunately, it requires premium gas, which is edging toward $2 a litre.
It’s also nicely styled and can hold its own visually with anything else. I see some Audi and BMW in its styling composition, but so what – this is a smart-looking automobile with presence and panache.
I just wish manufacturers like Hyundai/Genesis would step out a bit more and establish themselves as innovative thinkers, not top-drawer copycats.
2021 Genesis G70
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 255 at 6,200 rpm
Torque: 260 foot pounds at 1,400 to 4,000 rpm
Base price: $45,000
Fuel economy: 12.8 litres/100 km (city); 8.5 litres/100 km (highway), with premium fuel
Some alternatives: Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CT4, Lexus IS, Kia Stinger, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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