What is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe?
For a lot of people, it's the answer to years of prayers. Hyundai's newest car is a front-engine, rear-drive sport coupe, available with either a turbocharged four-cylinder or a 306-hp V-6 engine. Prices will range from between $22,750 for a base-model 2.0T (including the $750 destination) to a little over $30,000 when you start checking options boxes on the V-6 model.
Written by: Keith Buglewicz
Photos courtesy of : Hyundai Motor
What do you mean it's the answer to prayers?
Inexpensive rear-drive sport coupes have been extremely rare in the U.S. for decades, despite the inherent advantages of such a car to enthusiasts. Until now, it was an impossible combination: Enthusiasts could have a rear-drive coupe that was expensive, or an inexpensive one that was front-drive. Hyundai has brought them together in a very compelling new package with the 2010 Genesis Coupe.
Isn't the Hyundai Genesis a sedan?
Yes and no. To Hyundai, "Genesis" refers to its rear-wheel drive platform. While the luxury sedan last year shares the same name as the new coupe, the cars are quite different under the skin, sharing only the front MacPherson strut and rear five-point multi-link suspension layout, V-6 engine and its six-speed automatic transmission, and we assume a few nuts and bolts. Hyundai is a little cocky actually, bragging that the Genesis Coupe is significantly different from the sedan, which benefited the car in weight savings and in performance, citing the compromises Chevy and Infiniti made that resulted in the heavy Camaro and G37, respectively.
Speaking of the Infiniti, it sure looks a lot like one.
The two cars have similar profiles, but in person the Hyundai is arguably the better looking of the two. Its dramatic nose, sculpted flanks and eye-grabbing rear end all come together in a way that no Hyundai ever has. Far and away, this is the best looking car the Korean manufacturer has ever turned out. But, yes, there's definitely some "haven't I seen you before" in the mix.
So what's under the hood?
You have your choice. The base engine on the Genesis Coupe 2.0T is a 210-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, connected to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. It also boasts 223 lb.-ft. of torque, and will likely be the choice for many because of the potential upside for aftermarket performance parts. In stock form it's fine, but the Genesis isn't particularly quick so equipped, and the engine sound at high revs is pretty harsh.
What about the V-6?
The optional engine is on the Genesis Coupe 3.8, and you guessed it, it's a 3.8-liter V-6 that kicks out a very respectable 306 hp and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. It's also connected to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. If you aren't into aftermarket performance, this is definitely the package to get thanks to its smooth power delivery, ample torque and satisfying sound.
What about the sedan's V-8 engine?
Currently, the Genesis Coupe doesn't offer the 375-hp 4.6-liter V-8 from the sedan. However, when asked, Hyundai officials explained that the nose of the coupe would have to be lengthened by two inches to accommodate the bigger engine, but were otherwise a little vague. However, there wasn't an outright "no" when asked if it will be possible in the future, so if you're hoping, maybe you can keep your fingers crossed.
So what's it like to drive?
Maybe Hyundai is still benefiting from low expectations, but we were amazed by the 2010 Genesis Coupe's sophistication. Hyundai offered up a variety of four- and six-cylinder Genesis Coupes on the "Radical Loop" at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch outside of Pahrump, Nevada. The Hyundai coupe handled the track's tight curves with aplomb thanks to sharp steering, excellent reflexes, great brakes with the Track package, and an overall tight feel. It's not perfect, as the steering was a little too light, and the stability control kicked in far too harshly. However, you quickly get used to the former, and the latter can be shut off entirely.
Does good on the track mean too harsh for the street?
The roads that we drove on were exceedingly smooth desert routes, mostly on very well maintained highways, so we don't have a good answer for how it handles bumpy pavement. However, the coupe was solid and secure on the roads, with nicely controlled body motions and little to suggest that the ride would be unduly harsh on rougher surfaces, even with the more tightly sprung Track package.
What is this Track package you keep mentioning?
Hyundai is serious about performance with the Genesis Coupe, and it is offering a special performance package for both the four-cylinder and V-6 versions of the car. Called the Track package, it includes stiffer springs and shocks with 19-inch "summer tires," thicker anti-roll bars, Brembo brakes, a Torsen limited slip differential, a mandatory manual transmission in 2.0T models and special interior and exterior treatments. Put together it sharpens the car's reflexes, gives it tighter handling, and really brings the package together. It also includes luxuries like a 360-watt Infinity audio system.
Is that the only option package?
The 2.0T comes in four different trim levels. The base model comes standard with the turbo engine, six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels and stability control that includes ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. It also gets a decent sounding audio system with Bluetooth connectivity that includes audio streaming. The Premium package ups the ante with a power driver's seat (with manual seatback adjustment), keyless entry with push-button start, an upgraded audio system that will include a navigation system by this summer, and a power sunroof. There's also an R-Spec package coming this summer.
It's a racing package that will be available only on the 2.0T. Basically, it will give you the performance hardware of the Track Package - the upgraded suspension, better brakes, limited slip differential, and big tires - but without the other extras, like the moonroof and Infinity audio system. It also adds quicker steering and keeps things like air conditioning, the Bluetooth audio system and the manual transmission. It's designed for people who want a car to take to the track.
What packages are available for the Coupe 3.8?
The base model has most of the same features as the 2.0T, but adds standard leather seating, automatic climate control, chrome exterior accents and fog lights. The 3.8 Grand Touring package throws in the high-end audio system, backup warning system, moonroof, navigation, heated exterior mirrors, Xenon HID headlights…pretty much the same stuff as the Premium package in the 2.0T. Then there's the track package, which on V-6 model is available with the automatic transmission. However, there's no R-Spec model on the V-6.
You're really gushing. Is there a downside?
There are a few complaints, but most of them fall into the nitpicking category. The stability control comes in way too harshly, practically shutting off the car for three seconds while it recomposes. There were also a few pieces of hard plastic that we could have done with out, mainly on the door tops. As a low-slung coupe, it's a little hard to see out of, and the rear seat is a joke, but you expect that in a car like this. Overall, you'd think that this was a third-generation car, and not Hyundai's first effort.
Is that all?
Well, there was one other thing. The automatic transmission we tested on the track went into "safety" mode after about three turns, shifting at 5,000 rpm instead of the V-6 engine's 6,500 redline. In fairness, it was toward the end of the day and it's possible that the paddle-shifted automatic had simply been flogged too hard too frequently. Still, if you're serious about driving the Genesis Coupe hard, get the stick. Which, come to think of it, you'd probably do anyhow.
What else might I be shopping for?
Hyundai lists a wide variety of competitors, including the Infiniti G37, BMW 128i and 335i, and V-6 powered Chevy Camaros and Dodge Challengers. On a dollars-per-horsepower basis, the 2010 Ford Mustang probably comes closest. They cost about the same, offer up generally the same performance, and so on. But if you're looking for a front-engine, rear-drive sporty coupe with an independent rear suspension and a personality that begs to be flogged, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is in a class by itself.