BOSTON — When catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a while — usually because of COVID-related lockdowns and such — the conversation inevitably comes around to: “What have you been doing to keep busy?”
In my case, it basically sums up to writing, playing Xbox with friends (which is a solid way to keep human interaction going when stuck at home), venturing out to Costco for essential supplies, and making turkey sandwiches.
I also spend quite a lot of time behind the wheel of cars. Taking a solitary drive to nowhere in particular is a fun thing to do in normal times, but I’ve been driving to nowhere more than usual over the past few months both to review my test cars and for the positive mental health aspects of getting some fresh air.
I have friends who are mildly horrified to find themselves whispering “I even miss my commute.” I totally get this, particularly since I work from home. A commute is a time for solitude — you get some time away from both the family and your work. It’s a time for you to just focus on driving, or listening to your podcast, or Taylor Swift or whatever.
Nothing makes you appreciate stop-and-go traffic more than not having to sit in it anymore. And it’s both those drives-to-nowhere and the stop-and-go traffic that makes me particularly appreciate my test car this week: The Genesis G70.
Genesis is Hyundai’s new(ish) luxury brand, competing with Lexus and BMW and Mercedes and the like. The G70 is a compact sports sedan, going up against the 3-Series, C-Class, IS, and A4 — and it does a terrific job of it.
My tester was fully-loaded with the 3.3T Sport Package, which means it sported a 365-horsepower and 376 lb-ft 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6. Which means it’s fast. And then Genesis loaded it up with a sporty suspension, limited-slip diff, Brembo brakes, all-wheel drive, and a bunch of other stuff to make it go fast and handle well. It worked, too.
Inside was the same story. There were gorgeous quilted leather seats, a terrific heads-up display, Hyundai’s phenomenal adaptive cruise system with lane-keeping, a great stereo, and a bunch of other stuff like a suede headliner which is unnecessary but still kind of fun.
Don’t get me wrong, any car that prices out at $51,275 is going to be nice and chockablock full of features. But the Genesis G70 seems just a little bit better in that department. Perhaps it’s because it comes with the same terrific warranty that Hyundai offers on all its cars: a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, plus 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage.
Or maybe it’s the Genesis Concierge service that — even before COVID — let you set up at-home test drives and delivery of your new car to your house (because we all know how much fun dealerships can be).
I do have a couple G70 nitpicks though. If you look on the front grille, which is the centerpiece of a rather excellent front end, there’s a largeish plastic rectangle in the center. This is where the radar for the adaptive cruise control sits, and it causes a bit of a jarring effect to the overall look of the car. It doesn’t quite fit right, and I wish there was a better way. As we get cleverer and more complex safety systems, hiding these sensors will be an increasing challenge. I imagine Genesis will get better at this as well.
Finally, there’s the Genesis badge itself. It just doesn’t have the presence that this car — which in all other respects is a worthy competitor to the existing lux-mobiles from Germany and Japan — deserves. The blue-and-white BMW logo or the four-rings of Audi or the three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz… they’re all instantly recognizable and totally distinctive.
The winged Genesis logo looks to me a bit like a Bentley knock-off, a badge not worthy of the stellar vehicle it’s attached to. And in this market, brand cachet counts for a lot. But if the worst thing I can say about a car is that I don’t like the badge? That’s a pretty big compliment in itself.