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With a 365-hp 3.3-L V6 and rear-wheel-drive, the new Genesis G70 sport sedan is a serious BMW challenger; little wonder it was named the 2019 North American Car of the Year. (Genesis).

What we're driving: 2019 Genesis G70 RWD

The G70 is the fledgling Genesis brand’s entry into the age-old “BMW 3-Series-fighter” category.

The difference here? Over decades, others invariably fell short. Genesis pulled it off.

Athletic, almost edgy rear-drive chassis with near-zero extraneous body motion? Check. Chesty six-cylinder power and torque? Yep. Steering that gives a little back for what you put in? As good as just about anything you can buy for reasonable money.

The G70 really is the reincarnation of the “premium sport sedan” formula that BMW trademarked with the 3-Series, but drifted away from with electronics, weight, softness and fading focus (although early reports indicate the all-new 3-Series may have reversed the slide).

The rear-drive G70’s chassis is astoundingly balanced and seems intentionally biased, even, towards naughtiness. The 365 horses channeling from the big—though somehow slightly hoary-feeling—3.3-L turbocharged V6 provokes the rear tires in innumerable speed and throttle-opening circumstances, satisfyingly tugging and tussling with the rear of the car.

Switch up the drive mode to “sport,” and the stability control takes a healthy coffee break before intervening in the torque flow, permitting rather wanton wheelspin and surprising amounts of yaw (neighbors: “Did he just slide that car around the cul-de-sac?”) before the electronics almost grudgingly arbitrate. It’s just a bit hooligan-ish and a pleasant surprise from the normally soft and staid Korean approach to chassis tune.

Genesis even paid tribute to the ever-shrinking “true driver” market with a manual-transmission choice for the G70. The self-shifter is paired only with the 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder, however, and also is available only for the G70’s rear-wheel-drive configuration. I know certifying model variants is costly and most companies surely don’t want to do it for manual-transmission models that sell in low single-digit pentrations, but Genesis perhaps should’ve given consideration to at least also offering AWD with the manual transmission.

Some may grouse the G70’s sheetmetal is unspectacular and I’ll admit that the course grain of some of the minor cabin trim pieces caught my generally ambivalent attention for such things, but otherwise, the G70 is the goods in just about every metric; the car we tested impressed as “worth” its asking price—a conclusion I don’t often reach.

Genesis also wisely addresses potential fence-sitters with an impressive 5-year warranty and three years of no-charge maintenance, cementing the G70 as a grand brand-switching temptation for those shopping the tried-and-true choices in the segment.


2019 Genesis G70 Design Edition

Base price:       $48,750

As tested:        $49,745

Highs:              Two-fisted turbo V6; aggressive and fluid RWD chassis; excellent build quality

Lows:               Some downmarket cabin trim; V6 is plenty thirsty; only one manual-trans model

Takeaway:      This is what BMW used to give you for 50 grand

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