Can a South Korean automaker known for building inexpensive cars and sport-utility vehicles make it in the luxury segment? Hyundai believes it can be done, so it spun off its luxurious Genesis line into its own brand in 2015, seven years after the first Hyundai Genesis surfaced in the U.S. market.

It’s never a good idea to underestimate Korean automakers in general and Hyundai in particular, and the Genesis proves the point. One of the brand’s many success stories is the G70, a compact 4-door sedan introduced in 2019 and already accounting for half of Genesis’ sales.

The base G70 starts at $35,450 for a rear-wheel-drive sedan with a 252-horsepower engine. We went way upscale with the 2020 G70 with all-wheel drive, a 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6, and all of the option packages. Using Genesis’ website, we estimated its sticker price at $59,025.

Our G70 came up short in few of the major luxury and performance categories. Interior materials quality, technology, power and handling all were top-notch. And, although rated at only 25 mpg on the highway, we averaged 32 mpg in highway driving. All G70s require premium gasoline.

We were particularly intrigued by the car’s self-driving capability. By setting the adaptive cruise control and activating the lane-keep system, both standard features, the Genesis could cruise safely down the highway with no driver inputs. However, there are two caveats. When we tried out the system, we found that we could steer the car more smoothly and consistently, with fewer small corrections, than the automatic system could. And that’s precisely what we did, since the system requires the driver to keep his hands on the wheel.

The car did have a few shortfalls, especially when compared with the larger G80 and G90 sedans — not to mention the soon-to-arrive GV80 SUV.

Picking up two passengers at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, we immediately discerned one of the car’s flaws: tight legroom in the back seat. The driver and front passenger each had to slide forward several inches.

2020 Genesis G70 AWD 3.3T Sport

Price: $59,025 (est.)

Engine: 3.4 liter twin-turbo V-6, 365 horsepower, 376 lb-ft. torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters and rev match

Drive: all-wheel

Weight: 3,887 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 19x8.5-in. sport alloy

Tires: front, P225/40R19; rear, P255/35R19, all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 10.5 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 15.8 gallons

Fuel economy: 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline

The G70 also has a diminutive trunk, even compared with many subcompact sedans and hatchbacks. At 10.5 cubic feet, it’s 2.6 cubic feet smaller than the trunk of a Toyota Corolla.

We also didn’t care for the lane-keep system ... though, to be fair, we seldom do. Genesis generously made it easy to turn it off, by pressing an appropriately labeled button to the left of the steering column. The lane-keep-assist system was particularly disconcerting in the heavy rainstorm we encountered on the way to the airport; it gave the impression the car was hydroplaning.

In addition to the G80 and G90 in its own showrooms, the G70 competes with the Cadillac CT5, Lincoln MKZ, Lexus IS, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-class, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE, Infiniti Q50 and Acura TLX. While more near-luxury than luxury, the Stinger — a sports sedan produced by Hyundai and Genesis’ sister company, Kia — shares a number of mechanical components with the G70.

The G70 has been rated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.