2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Manual Test Drive: A Dissatisfying End to a Species
After the manual G70 leaves after 2021, there are no more rear-wheel drive sport sedans to be had with three pedals.
It always feels a bit odd to drive a dead car walking—a new car that's still available on dealer lots, but just recently received its official execution date from the automaker. It's different from dealing with a special edition; the very core of a limited run is its ephemerality. But the end of a bloodline whether sudden or scheduled feels melancholic, even if the car isn't that great.
As you probably guessed, the last time this happened to me was during a stint test driving the 2020 Genesis G70 2.0T with the six-speed manual transmission. While spraying the bright blue four-door down at a car wash ahead of a photo shoot, I received a text from a coworker informing me of the three-pedal G70's demise after the 2021 model year, bringing the curtain down on the enthusiast-focused version of the compact executive four-door after just three model years.
2020 Genesis G70 2.0T: Show Me The Money
Even to one of the few who did snag a six-speed G70 before the axe came down, this news should hardly come as a shock. Genesis sold fewer than 12,000 G70s in 2019, and has sold only 5,275 units as of July 2020, illustrating just how small a slice of the segment the G70 managed to carve, especially when compared to the 47,827 3 Series models BMW sold in 2019—and those numbers are for all G70s (and 3 Series variants), not just those bought with a manual transmission.
But BMW isn't selling manuals in this segment, either—the German automaker nixed the manual 3 Series from its lineup with the introduction of the G20-generation for 2019. If BMW can't justify a manual 3 Series due to disappointing sales, what do you reckon the take rate is for the G70 with the 6MT?
In all likelihood, the figures are abysmal. Now, if you want to pick up a new premium sedan with three-pedals, your options are…well, shoot. There aren't any more options. Turns out, the G70 was the last to the party, and the last to leave. Don't think you can find shelter in the warm embrace of a well-equipped six-speed Honda Accord either; production of the shift-it-yourself Accord halted back in December of last year, and no one noticed until Honda publicly announced the death knell for the manual Accord, along with the demise of the Civic Coupe and cheeky Fit.
So, not only was I driving a zombie car, but it was the last gasp of an endangered species that used to be multitudes. At least it went out with a bang, right? Surely there's consolation in the fact I could declare the six-speed G70 criminally underrated and press most of the blame on the shoulders of a driving public more interested in their phones than the journey.
2020 Genesis G70 2.0T: Mixed Signals
It is with a heavy heart I report the manual-equipped, rear-wheel drive sports sedan winks out with peaky power, a deceptively numb clutch, rev hang, and a dull shifter. Had I not received news of the stick-shift G70's demise, my advice to interested parties is that they don't bother; just pick up the 2.0T with the mostly inoffensive, though only average eight-speed automatic transmission, or make the financial jump to the potent 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 G70 3.3T, which is—of course—only available with an automatic transmission.
Before we dive into what makes the six-speed G70 disappointing, let's take a second to appreciate the G70's merits outside of the rubbery stick protruding from the center console, lest you think the car is simply a sum of its parts. As we've discovered with every other configuration of the G70, Genesis developed quite the sports sedan here, with excellent balance and overtly handsome aesthetics that would be a welcome sight coming from any brand. It's well designed, well equipped, comfortable both to drive and to ride in, and if you spring for the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6, a potent contender for the pedestal spot occupied by the BMW 340i and Audi S4.
Overall, it's a tidy car that's a valid alternative to anything else in the ultra-competitive luxury compact executive sedan segment. We liked the G70 when it launched for 2018, and I'm sure we're going to have plenty to praise when the refresh arrives in 2022. But by then, the G70 will have shed the one significant feature that set it apart from the crowd, and will be left as a less funky, more driver-oriented complement to the Lexus IS and, perhaps, the upcoming Acura TLX.
2020 Genesis G70 2.0T: What to Expect
For now, you've got one-and-a-half model years to pick up the 2.0T with three pedals, if you so desire. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is rated at a stout 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, conceivably compelling figures for something with both a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. Even Genesis realizes this should be alluring for an enthusiast, so checking the box for the stick also forcibly checks the box for the G70's Sport trim, adding a limited slip differential, Brembo brakes, and summer tires to the mix.
This is all excellent news, right up until you take it out for your first on-ramp blast. I don't know how Genesis managed to make 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet feel like a nice, round 200 in each category, but based on my test drive, it feels significantly down on torque from a dig. Instrumented testing from our buds over at Motor Trend revealed the G70 2.0T with the six-speed manual transmission takes an astounding 7.2 seconds from 0-60 mph. I'm not usually one to call something that can do the deed in less than 8.5 seconds "slow," but essentially the premium leaders in the segment—BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz—typically handle that scramble in less than six seconds.
2020 Genesis G70 2.0T: Slower Than Expected
There's significant turbo lag from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and when the impeller does get with the program, it's not revelatory or thrilling; even during full-throttle pulls, it never feels anything short of a steady, relatively slow climb. According to Genesis, peak power arrives at 6,200 rpm—no surprise there—but all 260 pound-feet are apparently on tap from 1,400 rpm through 4,000 rpm. Could have fooled me—there isn't much happening until the needle swings to the middle of the tach.
It's not as if it's much fun poking the engine through the range, either. The manual G70 has obnoxiously dull initial throttle tip-in, which, when combined with a vague clutch and apparent lack of low-down torque, leads to more-than-should-be-necessary clutch slip, herky-jerky starts, outright stalls, or a combination of all three.
Of course, operator error is always a potential part of the equation, but a quick seat-swap with a coworker confirmed at least the throttle tuning wasn't my imagination. Things get a little better in the Sport driving mode, but not so much that it fixes the dead zone entirely. Meanwhile, the shifter feels like something from a non-performance Elantra, which is not to say it's egregiously cheap or clumsy, but it doesn't really match the G70's premium/luxury intentions, especially with somewhat rubbery engagement and a plastic-topped knob.
Again, this hurts to write. I like the Genesis G70 a great deal, especially in 3.3T form. It's a fantastic little sports sedan for the money, and if I were in the market for a professional-appearing daily commuter, it would be near the top of the list. It's just such a shame the less-than-stellar stickshift G70 is the one to shut the door on the manual rear-wheel drive sport sedan species in the U.S.
2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Sport Manual Fast Facts
- The last rear-wheel drive premium sports sedan offered with a stick in the U.S.
- To be discontinued after 2021 model year
- Powerful and torquey on paper, but doesn't feel like it on the road
- A great car let down by a not-great manual transmission
|2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Sport Manual Specifications|
|PRICE||$39,625 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/252 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 260 lb-ft @ 1,400-4,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||18/28 mpg (city/highway)|
|L x W x H||184.4 x 72.8 x 55.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.2 seconds (MT)|
|TOP SPEED||150 mph (est)|