It’s the new South Korean Genesis G70 vs stalwart German BMW 330i in this luxury sedan shoot out.
This isn’t the first time a premium-sedan newcomer has tried to take on the German establishment. Over the years we’ve seen the Lexus IS, Jaguar X-Type/XE, Volvo S40 and Infiniti Q50 all attempt to unsettle prestige heavyweights like the BMW 3 Series, with varying degrees of success.
But this is the first time a Korean manufacturer has pitched in a set of gilded keys and a hassle-free ownership proposition in an attempt to steer the focus away from the predictable ‘big three’ (Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi).
Genesis is to Hyundai what Lexus is to Toyota – the company’s flagship brand – and the Genesis G70 has the BMW 3 Series firmly in its sights.
While the G70 shares its platform and much of its mechanical DNA with the Kia Stinger, it’s a more compact traditional sedan rather than a large liftback like the Stinger. And in line with its premium-brand status, the G70 brings a substantial slug of refinement polish to the table – both in its driving experience and its all-round cohesion.
But is the G70 3.3T Sport capable enough to dull the shine of the seventh-generation (G20) BMW 330i M Sport?
PRICE & EQUIPMENT
Ostensibly, the 330i M Sport is the cheaper of the two at $70,900 before on-road costs, though our test car totalled $79,230 thanks to a Visibility Package ($5070 – metallic paint, glass sunroof, laser headlights and ambient lighting), an M Sport Differential ($2400), aluminium mesh-effect interior trim ($300) and M seatbelts ($560).
Standard-equipment highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, an M aerodynamics package, M Sport brakes, keyless entry and start, three-zone climate control, a head-up display, 12.3-inch digital instrument pack, electric memory sports front seats with Alcantara/Sensatec upholstery, electric boot release, Parking Assistant Plus, and wireless phone charging.
At $72,450 before on-road costs, the G70 3.3T Sport is the most affordable of the three G70 V6 variants, sitting beneath the 3.3T Ultimate ($79,950) and 3.3T Ultimate Sport (also $79,950).
The entry-level Sport misses out on the fan-cooled front seats, surround-view monitor, head-up display and top-spec stereo of the Ultimate variants, but it still brings 19-inch dark grey alloys, a Brembo brake package, adaptive damping, a limited-slip differential, dynamic torque vectoring, keyless entry and start, a hands-free electric bootlid, dual-zone climate control, Nappa leather trim, heated front seats, and wireless phone charging.
INTERIOR & CONNECTIVITY
While the new 3 Series cabin has alienated a few purists with the bulkiness of its dashboard design and the fussiness of its digital instruments, it’s otherwise a hard car to fault.
Multi-adjustable electric sports front seats offer superb comfort, while our test car’s blue stitching and multi-hued M seatbelts add a touch of seductive sparkle. The rear bench maintains this standard with decent seat support, an impressively elevated view, acceptable toe room and generous legroom.
There’s also space for full-size 1.5-litre water bottles in all doors, plus an impressively engineered door-pull design, a reasonably ergonomic centre console arrangement, and an instrument layout that does seem to make more sense with familiarity. Pity the air-con control buttons are so small and fiddly – much like the excessive number of layers in its iDrive multimedia system’s embedded screens.
For overall clarity and ease of use, the Genesis dashboard creams the overly complex BMW. But the deeper your gaze and the longer your experience, the less impressive its cabin becomes.
The quality of the G70’s Nappa leather upholstery is superb but its front seat support falls well short of the BMW’s, despite all-electric control. Insufficient under-thigh adjustment means the cushion is too flat – a common failing among Korean cars. And while the G70’s rear bench is actually quite airy and comfortable (for two people), there’s very little space left for your feet if both front seats are at their lowest level. Rear legroom is merely adequate.
While we love the simplicity and common sense of the G70’s overall control layout, it seems to tread on its own toes in a bunch of areas – specifically its lack of bottle storage. You’ll just squeeze a one-litre into the front doors (at an awkward angle) but there’s nothing in the rear doors – just an odd triangular pocket. The G70 is also lacking temperature control for its centre-rear air vents.
As for their boots, the G70’s shallow 330-litre offering (with space-saver spare beneath) seems weirdly undersized in a class where big boots are common, as demonstrated by the BMW’s huge 480-litre boot with netted side bins (but no spare), and near fold-flat rear backrests (matched by the G70).
Connectivity-wise, the Genesis brings an 8.0-inch tablet touchscreen with pretty much every multimedia feature imaginable except wifi, or a level of graphic design that’s commensurate with the G70’s premium positioning. Ignore the rest of the cabin and you could be in an i30.
Thankfully, the G70 brings plug-in Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and thereby a big improvement to the look of its centre screen. Sound quality is respectable courtesy of nine audio speakers, including a pair of under-seat subwoofers controlled by an external amplifier.
But the BMW goes one better. Once you get your head around the frustrating confusion of selecting Apple CarPlay as the chief operating system, it’s brilliant. A huge, panoramic 10.25-inch driver-focused touchscreen combines with wireless Apple CarPlay to deliver a terrific multimedia experience.
Its sound quality beats the Genesis too, via a 10-speaker surround-sound set-up, and it gets a pair of USB-C ports in the rear alongside a 12-volt outlet, as well as a USB and a 12-volt port up front. The Genesis gets a single USB in the front as well as an AUX input, another USB under the centre armrest, and another for rear-seat passengers.
A 16-speaker Harman/Kardon system is optional in the BMW whereas in the Genesis, you need to stretch to an Ultimate variant to get the premium 15-speaker Lexicon by Harman audio.
RIDE & HANDLING
BMW has a long-held reputation for producing great driver’s cars, though that track record has been tarnished in recent years by many ho-hum attempts, including the previous-generation F20 3 Series.
The all-new G20 changes all that. In short, it’s stunning.
In corners, the 330i’s turn-in response and handling balance are just brilliant. It is outstandingly precise without being over-keen, and has a fluency to its steering movement and dynamic poise that sets a new standard for medium-sized sedans at any price. If ever a car had dynamic X-factor, this is it.
The BMW’s ride is similarly polished, with taut damping that beautifully contains body movement without any untoward pitch or harshness. The 330i feels super-solid yet also lithe, which is a difficult-to-achieve blend of talents – sealing the dynamic deal for one of BMW’s best driver’s cars in years.
About the only black mark against it is ‘Sport’ mode. On Australia’s often-lumpy and coarse surfaces, the damping is too stiff for road use (though it should be perfectly suited to a racetrack). The 330i’s ‘Adaptive’ setting is already more than almost anybody could ever want, with better steering weighting in corners than the default ‘Comfort’ mode.
Faced with its rival’s towering dynamic talent, the G70 inevitably comes off second-best, though it isn’t without merit. Specific Australian tuning and a shorter wheelbase gift the G70 greater cohesion and tighter handling than its Kia Stinger relative, but in comparison to the 330i, it’s lacking in finesse.
Even though the G70 really does handle, it isn’t as incisive as the BMW and it’s more easily disturbed over uneven surfaces. In isolation, the G70’s keen turn-in and lovely balance are dynamic highlights, yet it fails to match the precision perfection of the 330i, which says more about just how good the BMW is rather than being any real criticism of the Genesis.
This situation continues when it comes to ride quality. Admittedly, the G70’s adaptively damped suspension can be driven in ‘Sport’ mode on winding country roads without brutalising its passengers (which the 330i can’t), though excessive vertical movement in ‘Comfort’ and ‘Smart’ drive modes leaves the G70 bereft of the 330i’s excellent damping control.
While still decent, the G70’s ride jostles and jiggles at times, lacking the BMW’s supreme feeling of cushioned solidity. And its Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, while wonderfully grippy, produce a lot more road noise in the G70 than the BMW does on its Bridgestone Turanza T005s.
PERFORMANCE & ECONOMY
It might look like an unfair contest on paper – a 272kW/510Nm 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 in the G70, potentially monstering the 190kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four in the 330i – but the reality is a fairly close fight.
What the BMW loses in outright thrust, it gains in all-round driveability and personality. Tied to an eight-speed auto just like the G70, the 330i’s engine has such superb torque response (its 400Nm maximum is spread from 1550-4400rpm) that it delivers an instantaneous kick in acceleration – anywhere, anytime.
Yet the 330i also brings a lusty mid-range and a rasping top-end that extends almost to 7000rpm, demonstrating the enviable bandwidth of BMW’s exceptional 2.0-litre engine. Only the synthesised induction sound that accompanies Sport mode (pumping a fake engine noise through the stereo speakers) tarnishes its excellence, though it thankfully isn’t mandatory. You can turn it off.
The G70’s twin–turbo V6 is ballsier – especially if you believe manufacturer acceleration claims as the G70’s 4.7sec-to-100km/h beats the 330i by just over a second – however there’s also more inertia in the way it performs.
There’s some turbo lag at the bottom end when you give it a boot-full, contrasted with quite breathtaking full-bore thrust that often threatens to overcome rear tyre grip. Yet there’s enough torque muscle, all the way from 1300-4500rpm at its peak, to deliver effortless pottering with barely a brush of your foot on the right pedal.
What the Genesis doesn’t have is the same level of chassis/drivetrain harmony as the perfectly judged BMW, nor its all-round crispness and induction sweetness. Despite winning the cylinder- and turbo-count contest, the G70’s engine doesn’t have the bark you’d expect. And its eight-speed auto lacks the intuitiveness of BMW’s equivalent transmission.
Given all that, and a weight penalty of 249kg, it’s no surprise that the G70 concedes fuel-consumption honours to the 330i. On the official government combined fuel cycle, the G70 3.3T Sport gulps 10.2L/100km of 95-octane unleaded, compared to just 6.4L/100km from the 330i M Sport. The BMW prefers 98-octane premium, however it’s so far ahead of the Genesis for efficiency that any cost differential is meaningless.
Both Genesis and BMW load their cars with just about every active-safety feature you can think of, leaving the G70 3.3T Sport and 330i M Sport brimming with safety tech.
According to NCAP testing, the G70 gets a marginally higher score for active-safety systems (81 percent versus 77 percent for the BMW), however in reality, we found the subtle decisiveness of the 330i’s electronic stability control (ESC), in particular, to be superior to the G70’s calibration.
Where the German sedan neatly interweaves its safety electronics into the overall driving experience, its Korean rival wields a much heavier hand – sometimes to its own detriment.
Both cars get five-star ratings for their crash-ability, however it’s the BMW that scores highest. A superb 97 percent for adult protection (versus 81 percent for the G70) rates particular mention, as does its 87-percent score for vulnerable road-user protection (its ability to avoid or mitigate impact with cyclists and pedestrians). The G70 received 69 percent for the same discipline.
WARRANTY & SERVICING
BMW’s warranty is the standard three-year/unlimited-kilometre coverage, with 12-year/unlimited-kilometre protection for Body Rust Perforation.
Genesis, on the other hand, goes all out to make the G70’s ownership prospect about as pain-free and comprehensively covered as possible.
The main warranty is five years/unlimited kilometres, plus there’s five years’ roadside assistance, complimentary servicing for five years/50,000km, and a five-year subscription to Genesis Connected Services and ‘Genesis To You’ valet that handles pick-up and delivery for any scheduled servicing.
There’s also a two-year ‘concierge lifestyle’ program that allows you to book holidays, restaurants, and “life experiences” simply by dialling or emailing and having Genesis do the logistical heavy-lifting In 2020, no other car brand can match this level of ownership support.
BMW’s capped-price servicing is offered in two levels – ‘Basic’ for $1565 over five years or 80,000km, and ‘Plus’ for $4110 over the same time/distance period. Both packages cover replacement of fluids, filters and spark plugs, but the Plus version also includes replacement of front and rear brake discs and pads, plus windscreen wiper-blade rubbers.
As for projected resale value, according to The Red Book the 330i M Sport will retain 53.5 percent of its original price after three years compared to 45.3 percent for the G70 3.3T Sport.
Gone are the days when your premium German sedan arrived as a blank canvas, stripped of any equipment sizzle unless you dug deep into the options catalogue. Today’s BMW 330i M Sport is so well equipped that value-for-money is actually one of its highlights.
But this BMW’s list of attractions goes far beyond any box-ticking specification exercise. The 330i M Sport is arguably the most persuasive BMW you can buy, aside from several M-badged performance-car stars. Its combination of outstanding dynamics and a superb drivetrain with space, subtlety and all-round suaveness is deeply compelling.
So much so, in fact, that it’s almost unfair to compare it with the new Genesis G70. The Koreans benchmarked the old F20 3 Series during development of the G70, though had they known just how terrific the new one would be, then maybe the G70 would be a little closer to the mark.
Yet the Genesis still has plenty of left-field appeal. It’s stylish, nicely built, handles well, goes hard and offers an unbeatable ease-of-ownership proposition. But the BMW 330i is a genuine modern great, and a car that impressive ain’t easy to topple.
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