Our test car was the G70 Sport with the 2.0-liter turbo and a manual transmission. The last element is key, not just for a car enthusiast perspective, but because the manual is only available in one trim that basically blends the Elite trim (second from the bottom) with the various handling and brake upgrades included with the V6. Reasonably priced at $38,895, you get heated and ventilated seating, leatherette upholstery, a power-adjustable wheel, a digital instrument cluster, an 8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 15-speaker audio system. It’s actually better equipped than our long-term Stinger GT, a car that costs roughly $10,000 more.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I drove the G70 in Maine and New Hampshire for our First Drive review, and loved it. I only drove the 2.0T with a manual transmission, however, for a couple of autocross laps on Club Motorsports’ converted karting track. I probably shifted the car a half-dozen times, and while I found the engine to be plucky and fun, I suspected the manual transmission left a lot to be desired. I was super excited to hear we were getting one in the office to try again.
The car is just as good as I remember it, and the manual transmission is about as lackluster, but I found the latter to matter less in real-world driving. There’s not a lot of feel to the shifter. It falls into place softly, but I found myself quickly forgetting about it after a few miles as the act of rowing the gears blended quietly into the rest of the driving experience. The clutch is easy to use, too, feeling very natural in its easy heft and clutch take-up. My only complaint was that revs felt a little high when traveling on the highway in sixth gear.
It sounds cliché at this point, but having a manual transmission did, of course, mean I got to better appreciate this 2.0-liter turbo engine. It’s got a lot of pep, and it only takes a quick beat for the turbocharger to pipe up and give the car a kick in the pants. I’d still rather have the twin-turbo V6, though, even if it can only be had with an automatic transmission.
Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: Rear-wheel drive, manual transmission, a powerful engine, snow-covered roads and the option to completely switch off stability control. Baseball and apple pie can wait for summer, because this is the combination you want in winter. All these qualities packaged into the G70 will have you wanting to drive all night long through the fluffy stuff. I know I didn’t want to hop out of the driver’s seat.
Genesis truly had the driving enthusiast in mind when making this car. It’s a rich and luxurious sedan you can be proud to arrive to your business meeting with, but then drive like a hooligan on the way home. The 3 Series has always been that car, but, as of now, the 3 Series can’t be had with a manual. Sad, but here’s Genesis coming to the rescue. How long the manual will live in this car is anybody’s guess, but it’s here now!
I wish I could tell you how flat it handled or how it tenaciously holds on through corners, but the polar vortex put a damper on any kind of testing like that. Instead, the G70 impressed me in another way — on ice. Some credit is due to the Pirelli Sottozero winter tires, but this car’s balance and steering is what really has me singing its praises. With all the electronic nannies switched off, the G70 lets you steer and slide to your heart’s content via your right foot. There’s an inherent lightness to the chassis that comes through the steering wheel and the seat of the car. That communication to the driver, whether it’s there through fancy electronics or actual mechanical bits, is what makes the G70 such a joy to fling about in the snow. The throttle never betrayed me with unwanted outputs from my inputs, and the steering followed suit to work in harmony with the various corners I dove into. When you begin to rotate, the car never feels out in front or lags behind what you’re telling it. No, you feel tied to the chassis in a natural way that inspires confidence to hold the drift even longer next time.
Would this enthusiast-oriented model be even better with the twin-turbo V6? Of course it would. But we live in a world where even an Alfa Romeo sport sedan doesn’t offer a manual transmission in the United States. I’m thrilled this car exists today — the G70 in this guise is a real bone thrown to those who love driving, and it shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: I was so happy to walk downstairs when the G70 came in and discovered it was a manual-equipped model. As a manual die-hard, this was one of my most anticipated cars to drive, and it mostly didn’t disappoint me. The chassis is phenomenal. It takes the eager handling and impressively solid, comfortable feeling of the Kia Stinger GT and K900, and shrinks it down. It’s more tossable and easier to place thanks to the lighter curb weight and tidier dimensions. It’s immensely quiet and smooth, too. The interior is comfortable with refreshingly simple controls. Some of the materials could be nicer, but I didn’t care because it was so wonderful to maneuver.
The engine feels perfectly peppy, too. The twin-turbo V6’s endless torque is intoxicating, but the four-cylinder gives you enough to have fun, and even get the car loose if you try hard enough. I did note a few times it felt sluggish when I just caught it out of boost, but it didn’t take long for the turbo to catch up.
The transmission is average at best. It’s notchy slotting into each gate, and the lever itself feels very light, almost plasticky. The gates are a bit far apart and the throws a touch long. But I could forgive it, because, given the choice, I will take a mediocre manual over a pretty good automatic every day. And it was even easier for me in this case since the G70 is about the only small luxury sports sedan left with a manual option. To have any kind of extra engagement is worth it to me, especially in such an athletic sedan. Furthermore, the pedals are placed well for easy heel-and-toe downshifting, which goes a long way to hiding the shifter’s weaknesses. And to give you an idea of how much fun I had, I spent almost my entire lunch break the day it came in just rambling around with it. It’s a superb sedan for the enthusiast.