2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Expert Review:Autoblog
The 2.0T is the low man on Hyundai's Genesis Coupe totem pole, disappointing the power addled and whooping it up too much for pinkie-waving tea drinkers. However, raw power isn't what this turbo model is all about, and once that's made clear, the coupe becomes a delightful flavor in Hyundai's best recipe. All the careful execution of the Genesis Sedan carries over, with an extra dollop of involvement. It's a driver's car, pure and simple. And that's a recipe we enjoy as much as Mom's London Broil.
While the car-crazies have hotly anticipated the Genesis Coupe's retail arrival, mainstreamers have yet to get the memo that Hyundai has its afterburner lit. Entirely different than the Tiburon it sent packing, the Genesis Coupe is a rakishly good looking car with crisply pressed, creative styling. So it looks good, but how's it drive?
All photos copyright Dan Roth / Weblogs Inc.
One thing's for certain, the Genesis Coupe has serious potential. In 2.0 Turbo form, the GEMA four-cylinder that Hyundai shares with Mitsubishi and Chrysler is mildly boosted to deliver 210 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. The torque is all-in by 2,000 rpm, and there's serious untapped potential in the aluminum engine. In fact, the Hyundai 2.0 shares some of its design with the raucous Mitsubishi Evo's powerplant, although parts differ between the two. The Evo connection is a tantalizing road map to increase the force-fed Genesis' hijinks, and the aftermarket ought to have a field day once it sinks its teeth in.
In the engine room, things are tidy and laid out in a businesslike fashion; the details have clearly been sweated. The turbocharger hangs off the passenger side of the block, and is plumbed through an intercooler before pressurizing the intake tract. There's plenty of room underhood for larger plumbing, aftermarket boost controllers and the usual hot-rodding suspects. The engine has been constructed with all of the right details: aluminum block and heads with cast-in cylinder liners, a bedplate for the lower end, oil sprayers to cool the pistons and dual overhead cams with continuously variable valve timing. Stout stuff. And the square dimensions, with both bore and stroke equaling 86 millimeters, make a good trade-off between off-boost torque and revvability.
The Track suspension package starches up the chassis with stiffened springs and dampers, adds larger diameter stabilizer bars (25mm front and 22 mm rear), stuffs 19-inch wheels with staggered, summer-only Bridgestones under the fenders, and upgrades the brakes with Brembo pieces. Four-piston calipers all around in the obligatory shade of red squeeze 13.4-inch rotors in front and 13-inchers out back, which is impressive braking hardware on a vehicle that's just shy of $28,000 dollars. More importantly for building performance cred, the Track package is not available with an automatic transmission.
Exiting a corner with Tutta Forza called up, a Track-trim Torsen limited-slip differential helps get the power down. The 2.0T has to work hard to break loose – which might strike some as less impressive to some than the big-torque V6 version, but on the track, most wheelspin is little more than wasted motion. While the Coupe and Sedan share a platform, there's nearly five fewer inches of Genesis wheelbase in the two door. A more substantive change is the strut front suspension in the coupe instead of the sedan's control arms. The struts keep costs down, but not at the expense of performance, and the strut towers are braced to keep the geometry stable. The Track suspension in our Genesis Coupe 2.0T is simply the finest job of performance-minded chassis calibration we've ever sampled from Hyundai. The extra stiffness might make your pocket change jingle, but it's still got enough compliance to be comfortable on most surfaces. The ride is busy, but it's acceptable for the extra capability, and more cushion is available by opting out out of the Track package. It's cheaper, too.
The rest of the goodies covered in the Track package are mostly cosmetic and comfort upgrades, including all the goods in the Premium trim level like an Infinity audio system, power moonroof, a power driver's seat, auto-dim mirrors and push-button start. Inside, aluminum dresses up the pedals and the comfortable, bolstered seats are covered in a combination of black leather and red "high friction" cloth. Navigation is forthcoming, too, though our tester sported a large, legible LCD at the top of the center stack in its place. Exterior details include foglamps, high-intensity discharge headlamps, and a large rear spoiler that we'd have accepted reduced downforce to avoid.
The driver's office is also a fantastically good effort. Controls are in the right places, the wheel and stubby shift knob are wrapped in leather, and the center stack is attractively clean while still carrying a full complement of controls for the ventilation and comprehensive entertainment systems. The metallized plastic that tastefully accents various surfaces in the interior may be easily marred, especially where the fob docks, so an entire keychain resting on the lower left corner of the console for thousands of miles is bound to leave a mark. In front of the driver are two metal-ringed nacelles housing legible gauges with halo-style lighting. All of the switches and buttons feel first-rate, and cheap plastics only invade unseen areas.
The only gripe we can muster is the way the steering wheel spokes occasionally block the stalks, making it difficult to see what you've set the intermittent wipers to. Casting an eye around the interior of the Genesis Coupe, you see refined design, and even though some surfaces appear richer than they feel, for the most part, only those who'd rather poke and prod the dash pad will be disappointed – the rest of us will be too busy driving the car.
Upon pressing the "go" button and setting off, we noticed pedals well placed for heel and toe downshifting, and the machinery is game to play along. Underway, there's a growl from the four-cylinder's exhaust, and you can detect the occasional whoosh from the mostly silent turbocharger. The Genesis impresses by being tight, rattle free, and more serene than we expected. A common complaint, at least among those who've tried the V6 Genesis Coupe, is that it has a heavy clutch. In the Turbo, we found the opposite to be the case; the clutch is light and the take-up point is vague. Likewise, steering feel has been widely praised when fitted with the other powertrain, but our initial impression was that it erred on the light side. However, the steering's communication won the day, conveying plenty of detail about what's going on at road level.
There's some softness when off-boost, especially in the first couple of gears where the shorter gearing of the Turbo prevents boost from building. It all fizzes up nicely in 3rd gear, though, and the 2.0 pulls strongly. At speed, a poke at the pedal delivers a responsive surge of pressurized acceleration. When attempting a quick tear through the gears, the electronic throttle's tendency to hang open during shifts precludes smooth driving. It's an emissions thing, for sure, but the calibration forces either slower shifts, or an acceptance of less graceful forward progress.
While there's certainly noticeable grunt delivered by the powertrain, the joy in the turbocharged Genesis Coupe is not in a thuggish shove into the seat. That's what the V6 is for. The 2.0T Track is all about being a pavement scalpel. The handling is clean and deft, the transmission plays along nicely as you row the six-speed gearbox, and the overall execution is impressive for a first effort at a rear-wheel drive coupe that's essentially a ponycar. The capable Genesis Coupe might not have you bellowing the theme to "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" in the same way that the telepathic Nissan 370Z does, and there are cars that will outrun it, but the Genesis Coupe can still hang without excuses.
The potential that lies within this inexpensive, well-crafted coupe is what's really exciting. The easy way to increased capability is winding up the boost. With the aggressive buy in price, there ought to be coins left rattling in the piggy bank for immediate upgrades. On the practical side, the Genesis Coupe offers a (very tight) back seat that folds, a trunk that's not too shabby for a coupe, and it can return 30 miles per gallon on the highway when driven far more gently than we managed. We made too many visits to Boostville to attain that EPA highway estimate.
While the Genesis Coupe is not perfect, it's an extremely solid entry into a newly refreshed RWD sport/ponycar class with plenty of competition. Anyone contemplating the neo-retro Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger ought to check out the Genny, as it offers a whole lot of performance for a solid price without egregious corner cutting. Hyundai's money has gone into the things that matter with this car, and it works phenomenally well, even if we were left wanting more torque in first and second gears every time we launched it hard. Wrap the package in handsome, original bodywork that's not trying to recapture 1969, and Hyundai's effort makes a compelling argument.
All photos copyright Dan Roth / Weblogs Inc.
It's been less than a year since the Hyundai Genesis Coupe hit the streets, but the Korean automaker isn't sitting on its hands. Just as it's done in the past, Hyundai is launching a steady stream of refreshed and redesigned models, and even new models – like the Genesis – are benefiting from the updates. At the top of Hyundai's list of early cycle improvements is fitting the Genesis Coupe with a satellite navigation system, something that's been missing since it's launch earlier this year. So after getting an exclusive glimpse of a prototype system in May, Hyundai invited us back to sample the production version in a few Coupes and one Sedan. How's it work? We hit the road to find out.
Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
When we arrived at the Hyundai America Technical Center (HATCI) outside Ann Arbor, MI, we were greeted by Electronics Engineering Manager John Robb, along with three Genesis Coupes and one Sedan, each fitted with Hyundai's new navigation setup. Robb gave us a thorough overview of the Coupe's system and explained that Hyundai opted for a touch-screen unit on the two-door model, versus the console mounted iDrivesque knob employed on the Sedan, due to the tighter interior packaging of the Coupe.
Hyundai Electronics Engineering Manager John Robb demonstrates new nav system
The screen replaces the audio system controls in the upper part of the center stack, with the AM/FM/SAT/AUX switches pushed to the upper edge of the console and seek and track switches to the left. Most of the audio controls are now contained within the screen, and since the touch screen is capable of displaying audio system information, the small display nestled into the pod on top of the dash of non-nav Coupes is superfluous.
The touch screen measures 6.5 inches diagonally, making it larger than most portable units, but smaller than some of the latest systems, including the nine-inch unit offered by Ford. While the Sedan's nav system offers real time traffic data, it doesn't have the ability to automatically re-route around blockages. The Coupe, on the other hand, can detect traffic on the current route, offer a detour and then reroute if the driver chooses.
However, the problem with real-time traffic is that it isn't exactly real-time – at least not yet. Currently, the traffic monitoring infrastructure isn't built up to the point of providing complete information, causing a delay in data transmission to vehicles. We had the chance to experience this firsthand when we drove from Ann Arbor to the Cedar Point amusement park near Sandusky, OH. There were several construction zones in the Toledo area that the system warned us about and asked if we wanted to re-route. When we approached the affected area, traffic was moving along freely, so we were able to decline the detour and proceed along as planned.
One handy, and incredibly simple, feature we enjoyed with in Coupe is the mute button displayed in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. While all modern sat-navs provide voice prompted directions, some have a tendency to pester you a bit too often, breaking up conversation in the vehicle and interrupting the dulcet tones of your favorite podcast. Unlike other systems that require you to trudge deep into the menu structure to mute the audio alerts, with the Genesis Coupe, you just tap the screen to toggle the voice prompts on and off. Easy peasy and something we'd like to see employed on every system out there.
While Hyundai does have a voice recognition engine built into the system, it's not as robust as others on the market, particularly the industry standard set by Ford's SYNC system. Voice commands in the Genesis generally worked well when inputting basic navigation, point-of-interest (POI) categories and higher level functions, however, one key feature – specific POI input – is missing. So if you want to speak the name of a restaurant, you're out of luck. And while you can use the voice commands to pull up POI categories, then make a selection by speaking the number corresponding to the destination, it requires you to take your eyes off the road, somewhat negating the benefit of voice commands in the first place.
Another minor issue we encountered – and something we've experienced in other sat-nav equipped vehicles – is the screen's lack of clarity when wearing polarized sunglasses. When viewed from behind the wheel, the angle, combined with the touch technology, causes the screen to fade and the text becomes harder to see. It's not a deal-breaker, but other systems don't have this problem, causing us to wonder how the screen technologies differ between brands and suppliers.
Opting for the nav system also provides integrated Bluetooth functionality, making phone calls and wireless audio streaming a breeze. When a phone is paired and you look up a point of interest in the directory, if an associated phone number is provided you can simply tap the number on screen and it dials automatically. Furthermore, the Hyundai system is equipped with AD2P technology, meaning you can stream music from any Bluetooth-equipped MP3 player or phone without having to plug in.
Another feature available on the Genesis Coupe is an auxiliary torque and fuel economy gauge integrated into the screen. Since the 3.8-liter V6 in the track edition provides plenty of twist, the torque display is somewhat unnecessary -- even if it is cool to look at. We figure the gauge would be more useful with the turbocharged four-cylinder model, particularly if you've made a few modifications. Although we're generally not fond of center-mounted gauges, the system works well enough, and we're keeping our fingers crossed for Hyundai to create a heads-up system to display navigation and performance information directly onto the windshield.
The new navigation system is priced at $1,000 which while more expensive than most third party portable units is still about half of what most factory in-dash units cost.
Hyundai hasn't announced pricing for the navigation system in the Coupe, but it's Premium four cylinder and Grand Touring and Track models with nav are due to arrive in dealerships in the next few months, so expect official figures soon. After the Coupe is available with navigation, Hyundai will begin offering the same touch-screen system as a lower cost stand-alone option in the Sedan. Currently, Hyundai only offers sat-nav as part of the $4,000 technology package, which also includes adaptive lighting, the multi-media controller and heated and cooled seats, among a host of other items.
Overall, the new system is about mid-pack at this point. It has better voice control than some of the systems available on more high-end vehicles (read: BMW and Mercedes), but Ford remains at the head of its class. John Robb assured us that Hyundai's engineers are continuing to work on enhancements to the system to add functionality and reliability, and given Hyundai's track record of incremental improvements, we're confident it's only a matter of time before this system leaps to the front of the pack.
Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
Our travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer
Full throttle down the back straight, the speedometer sweeps past 100 mph. The approaching turn is a 90-degree right, but it looks like we can still put more asphalt behind us before letting off the gas. At the last possible moment, we lift and then lean hard on the brakes. Deceleration forces us against the shoulder belt as the four contact patches ferociously search the line for traction. As the orange cones begin to fill our front windshield, it's obvious that we're carrying too much speed. A turn now and we'd spin.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Michael Harley / Weblogs, Inc.
In a last-ditch attempt to save it, we lift off the brake, floor the accelerator, and hold our breath. As expected, the weight transfers off the front tires and balances the vehicle. Seizing the opportunity, we crank the wheel to the right, feather the throttle... and our Genesis Coupe makes it cleanly around the turn!
Last summer, Hyundai charged its heavy 16-inch guns and fired an air-burst salvo at the competition with the introduction of the 2009 Genesis Sedan. The explosive projectiles were aimed across the bow of BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, causing each to reconsider their course at the determination of their newest foe. Less than one year later, a new round of armor-piercing shells has been launched. This time, the company's sights have been aligned a bit lower, but with much more focus. The new targets are the class-leading rear-wheel coupes offered by Infiniti and BMW, not to mention some Detroit 3 muscle.
Hyundai was committed to build a performance-tuned sports car. Using the internal designation "BK," the automaker benchmarked the segment-leading Infiniti G37, Mazda RX-8 and BMW 335i. What finally debuted at the 2008 New York Auto Show was a rear-wheel drive coupe with a five-link independent rear suspension, Torsen limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes and a choice of powerplants and transmissions. With a starting price just $22,000, even the base turbocharged model would be a car enthusiast's dream.
Before jumping in, we need to clear up a common misconception: the all-new Genesis Coupe is not a two-door version of the sedan. While they both share the rear-wheel drive configurations, an engine block, some suspension components, and a transmission, they are two very different vehicles. The Genesis Sedan is a luxury-oriented conveyance with seating for five, while the Genesis Coupe is a performance-oriented 2+2.
Hyundai is initially offering six different Genesis Coupe models: 2.0T, 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Track, 3.8, 3.8 Grand Touring, and 3.8 Track (a seventh model, the lightweight 2.0T R-Spec, won't arrive until later). The 2.0T models are fitted with an all-aluminum turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 210 hp with 223 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission (EPA 21/30 with the manual transmission). The 3.8 models receive an all-aluminum 3.8-liter V6 rated at 306 hp with 266 lb-ft of torque, with either a six-speed manual or a ZF six-speed automatic (EPA 17/26 with the manual). In a sharp departure from the rest of the industry, Hyundai quotes horsepower figures based on regular 87-octane unleaded fuel (according to Hyundai, you will receive a slight bump in power with higher octane gasoline).
Differentiating the models from the outside with a quick glance isn't easy. All share the same body panels and twin exhaust outlets. A closer look reveals that the non-track 2.0T models lack fog lamps, while the 3.8 Grand Touring features chrome lower fascia accents (all track models have fog lamps and black fascia accents). The exterior mirrors on the Grand Touring/Track V6 models also contain integrated turn signal indicators. The standard wheels on both models are ten-spoke 18-inch cast aluminum, while the track model sports gunmetal finish ten-spoke 19-inch wheels.
A cursory look at the interior reveals cloth upholstery in the 2.0T models, while the 3.8 variants receive black leather (standard/Track model) or brown leather (Grand Touring). All models are very well-equipped with air conditioning, power windows, keyless entry, and an AM/FM/CD/MPS stereo with six speakers (any of the option packages will automatically upgrade the audio to a 360-watt, ten-speaker, Infinity system for you audiophiles). Less common in this price segment is news that Hyundai is offering Bluetooth connectivity, XM Satellite radio capability, and iPod/USB/AUX input jacks standard on all Genesis Coupe models. The option packages include power/heated seats, proximity key, HID headlamps, a sunroof, and a backup warning system.
Our required choice would be the "Track" package with 19-inch alloys, Brembo brakes, track-tuned suspension, Torsen limited-slip differential, aluminum pedals, a rear spoiler and more. Pricing on a 2.0T Track model is $26,750 with the 3.8 Track model coming in at $29,500.
Knowing we'd have plenty of time in the Track models later in the day, we settled into a 3.8 Grand Touring 6AT model sprayed in "Silverstone" paint (each of the nine optional colors are named after famed racing circuits – the color of the car in many of our images is "Lime Rock Green"). Our destination was a race track about 65 miles away near the unincorporated town of Pahrump.
The Coupe's 2+2 cabin is belted for four passengers. Up front, there is plenty of room for our six-foot two-inch frame. Shoulder and head room is generous, and the seats are very comfortable (this one had lumbar support). Outward visibility is excellent, thanks in part to that drop-down styling in the rear window just aft of the B-pillar. While the front seats are commodious, our adult frames wouldn't even consider a ride to the ice cream store in the back seat. Small children will fit just fine back there... until they grow to teenage stature (at which point they'll realize that "shotgun" is the preferred passenger position anyway). We suppose if you want or need more room, there's always the Genesis sedan.
Mesmerized by the incredible landscape off State Route 160 in southern Nevada and the smooth arrow-straight asphalt roads, we inadvertently find ourselves piloting the Genesis Coupe across the barren Nevada landscape at a comfortable 80-90 mph (an attentive Nevada State Trooper wasn't as impressed with the Hyundai's high-speed cruise capabilities, although he was benevolent enough to let one of our comrades on the launch event off with just a warning). Wind noise is low, but we did find the non-Track suspension the less stable of the two at high speeds. Not surprisingly, we prefer the Genesis Coupe with a manual transmission, although many will be very pleased with the German-sourced ZF 6HP26 automatic on the 3.8 (used by BMW, Jaguar, and Maserati among others). The optional slushbox is smooth and predictable in operation when left alone, and responsive when shifted manually with the paddles.
Located alongside Route 160, just outside Pahrump, is the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. Relatively new, as far as racing circuits go, the private facility features a beautiful and challenging 3.5-mile road course loaded with double-apex turns and tight corners. Hyundai had reserved the 1.5-mile west loop for our unlimited use. While it lacked a long straight (we were only able to break into low triple-digit velocities), the circuit was excellent to test the capability of the new coupe under abusive track conditions.
Throughout a long day, we tossed the Coupe 2.0T 6MT, Coupe 3.8 6MT, and Coupe 3.8 6AT around the buttery-smooth asphalt until our hips ached from the g-forces. We were bent on finding out which model was best suited for track duty. Being virgins to this particular circuit, we preferred the 3.8 6MT in the morning as its abundant low-end torque would mask our mistakes as we learned the corners. After lunch, the slightly lighter and more tossable 2.0T 6MT was selected as we refined our lines and cleaned-up our laps. However, by late afternoon the 3.8 6MT was again the weapon of choice as we could use the additional torque coming out of the corners to our advantage (the ZF automatic model with paddle shifters performed well on the track, but frankly, we enjoyed the control and challenge of the manual).
Regardless of engine or transmission, there were several stand-out impressions during the day. Most notably, the Hyundai engineers have done an excellent job with the chassis and suspension. It feels well balanced (55:45 weight distribution, regardless of engine), and the vehicle can be tossed into the corner and its attitude modulated with the throttle. Even with traction and stability control completely off (all but our first lap), the coupe is predictable and easy to control at the limit. We'd overcook the entry to a turn countless times as we tried different lines, but a blip of the throttle with a slight change in the steering angle seemed to bring the unflappable coupe back on the race line without drama.
Brembo supplies the brakes for the Track Package, and they are a worthy mention. Massive four-pot fixed monobloc aluminum calipers clamp down on huge 13-inch rotors on the front, while the rear makes due with only slightly smaller twins. With the authority of an iron vise holding a piece of soft aluminum, the red Brembos hauled the Genesis Coupe down from speed without any sense of drama. We deliberately slammed the brakes late, even mid-corner, in an attempt to bring out the demons... yet the evil deities never surfaced in fault or fade.
Like the Porsche Boxster, Lexus IS-F, and Ferrari F430, the Genesis Coupe Track variants wear staggered Bridgestone RE050A tires on all four corners (the standard models get all-season RE-88A rubber). Up front, the coupe wears 225/40-19, the rear is fitted with 245/40-19. Most street tires lose their cool -- literally -- after several hot laps and slowly begin to self-disintegrate leaving the driver second-guessing the grip. With a high-performance rubber compound molded into an asymmetric tread pattern, the RE050A tires were consistent and trustworthy during our track sessions. The Bridgestone rubber held its composure until late in the afternoon when the continuous punishment finally caused them to feel a bit greasy. No undue stress... we simply had to tighten our lines a bit to compensate for a bit more drift.
To be fair, Hyundai brought an Infiniti G37S 6AT to the track for comparison. Running the Genesis Coupe back-to-back on the race circuit against the G37S, the differences were immediately apparent. While there is no question that the Infiniti is much more comfortable than the Genesis Coupe on the highway (200+ pounds of additional luxury will do that), the Japanese coupe felt much larger and more resistant to directional changes on the track, a perception reinforced by its heavier steering feel. The Infiniti offered similar grip at the limit, but there was more body roll evident before it settled into the turn. Bleeding speed hard repeatedly after triple-digit velocities, the G37S was eventually sidelined for a time when its big brakes overheated - more competent pads would have likely solved the problem (it is also worth noting that Infiniti no longer uses Brembo-supplied brakes on the sport package G models). The luxury-oriented and more expensive Infiniti G37S is a better road car and it feels faster, but the Genesis Coupe is much more nimble and enjoyable on the track.
Try as we did to find one, the new Hyundai seems to lack an Achilles Heel that would quickly cripple it. We did notice that the manual transmission balks when rushed, making our speed-shifts seemingly futile (more engine speed – at the expense of the clutch – seemed to cure things). Second, a performance-oriented car should have a few additional engine monitoring gauges too keep enthusiasts informed of its inner workings (oil temp, oil pressure, etc...). Lastly, the blue LED readout in the center of the instrument cluster is difficult to read while wearing sunglasses. There were a few other nit-picks about the interior and trim that reminded us that the Genesis Coupe is far from perfect, but the little flaws became idiosyncrasies dismissed when we remembered that the buy-in price cleanly undercuts the competition by thousands of dollars.
So, where does this new Genesis Coupe fit into the big picture? With its current pricing ($22,000 to $29,000), Hyundai believes that its new sporty two-door sits comfortably in an unoccupied price segment ("white space") in the retail marketplace. It is positioned to pull sales from both below (those who are longing for a Honda Civic Si/Mitsubishi Eclipse GS will realize the handling advantages of RWD and step up a bit) and above (economically-sensitive Infiniti and BMW coupe owners will relish the financial savings). While the current financial crisis is destroying some automakers stuck with expensive inventory, the aggressively-priced Genesis Coupe may be perfectly positioned.
The salvo fired when the Genesis Sedan was launched last summer was a shot across the bow of the competition. This time, the projectiles have been targeted to create space in a rear-wheel drive sector where competition has enjoyed peaceful anchorage. The new Genesis Coupe, a modern-day reincarnation of the Nissan 240SX (Hyundai's own words), will deservedly wedge itself into the segment and push outwards as drivers and tuners jump on board. This platform's growth will be sustained by its solid performance and unexpected price point. Hyundai doesn't need perks like the ten-year warranty or its Assurance program to sell the Genesis Coupe; they just need to get enthusiasts behind the wheel.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Michael Harley / Weblogs, Inc.
New Car Test Drive
Cabin upgrades further improve recently launched coupe.
The Hyundai Genesis Coupe is not merely a shortened, two-door, four-passenger version of the larger, four-door, five-passenger Genesis sedan. While it shares some of the sedan's underpinnings, in almost every way that matters, and in some that probably don't, it is a unique, sporty coupe that offers remarkable value. Using rear-wheel drive makes it a driver's car.
The Genesis Coupe was launched as a 2010 model. The 2011 Genesis Coupe has been upgraded inside to make the cabin an even more pleasant place to pass the time, from more soft-touch materials and higher-grade leathers to added chrome and metalgrain trim. The model lineup has been revised for 2011, also.
The Genesis Coupe offers a choice of engines, between a turbocharged, 210-horsepower four-cylinder and a 360-hp V6. Both come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, increasingly a rarity, if offered at all, in the sporty coupe market. The optional automatics are Shiftronic manu matics with steering column-mounted shift paddles. In a hat tip to the car's rear-wheel drive, the rear tires and wheels are wider than the fronts, making for a better managed, more efficient delivery of power to the road.
Inside you'll find leather upholstery on most models, but the fabric seats are more than up to the dual challenges of keeping their occupants comfortable over long distances as well as reassuringly restrained on winding mountain roads. For the multi media generation, iPod and USB audio inputs are standard along with a simple auxiliary jack.
All of this, though, is icing on the cake. This is a very competent, nicely balanced sporty coupe that feels as at home on a closed track as slogging through daily commute traffic. Rear-wheel drive is generally regarded as being better for sporty handling than front-wheel drive, and the Genesis takes advantage of this. We found the ride and handling on the street and on the track to be remarkably good, especially for a car with a starting sticker price of $22,250.
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe comes in two basic models: Genesis Coupe 2.0T and Genesis Coupe 3.8. Each model has three trim levels: The 2.0T ($22,250), the 2.0T R-Spec ($24,500), and the 2.0T Premium ($26,750); the 3.8 R-Spec ($26,750), the 3.8 Grand Touring ($29,750), and the 3.8 Track ($30,750).
The 2.0T comes with a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 5-speed automatic with Shiftronic ($1,250). The 2.0T R-Spec comes only with the manual, and the 2.0T Premium only with the automatic. Similarly, the 3.8 R-Spec is strictly manual, while the 3.8 Grand Touring comes with a 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic. The 3.8 Track comes standard with the manual and offers the 6-speed automatic as an option ($1,500).
The 2.0T comes with fabric upholstery; power windows, outside mirrors and central locking; leather-wrapped shift knob and manual tilt steering wheel; and a six-speaker multi-media stereo. XM satellite radio and Bluetooth capability are also standard across the line. Premium adds power driver seat, automatic climate control, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror with compass and programmable garage/gate remote, a 360-watt multi-media stereo with 10 speakers including woofer, touch-screen navigation, power tilt-and-slide moon/sunroof, and proximity key with push-button start/stop.
The 2.0T R-Spec is a performance model that deletes some trim from the base 2.0T, as well as the base model's automatic headlights and cruise control. In exchange, the R-Spec adds 19-inch wheels with 40-series summer tires (instead of all-season tires), a Brembo braking system, track-tuned suspension, limited slip differential, black leather seats with red cloth inserts, and matching cloth and leather inside door trim.
The 3.8 lineup begins with R-Spec trim, plus fog lights. The top-of-the-line Track adds the sunroof; cruise control; automatic climate control; the 360-watt stereo; folding and heated features to the outside mirrors, which include integrated turn signals; automatic xenon HID headlights; aerodynamic front wipers; a body-color rear spoiler; aluminum pedals and other metallic trim. Heated front seats are upholstered in black leather with power adjustment for the driver.
The 3.8 Grand Touring shares most of the Track's luxury features, but deletes some of its performance equipment (including the Brembo brakes and stiffer suspension) while dialing back to 18-inch wheels and tires. It also sports a backup warning system, brown leather seats and other unique trim inside and out.
Options are limited to floor mats ($105), an iPod cable ($35), and other accessories that can be added after the Coupe leaves the ship at the port of entry. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Safety equipment includes frontal, side-impact and side-curtain airbags. The front seats have active, anti-whiplash head restraints. All four passengers get three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters. The rear seat comes outfitted with child safety seat anchors. Active safety features include antilock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control and tire pressure monitors. A backup warning system comes on the Grand Touring model.
The 2011 Genesis Coupe has a quirky mix of styling themes. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. On the upside, it's distinctive. On the downside, it's distinctive. One thing about which there is no confusion is that the Genesis Coupe is not merely a sporty, two-door knockdown of Hyundai's award-winning Genesis sedan. The only visual feature the Coupe shares with the sedan is the company's stylized H logo.
The front end is an intriguing collage of swoops and scoops. Two sharp hood creases squeeze past the upper grille to pinch down on top of a lower grille flanked by horizontal polished ribs on flat black insets pushing the fog lights to the extremes of the lower fascia, which itself wraps around the front tire wells to emphasize the broad stance. Projector-beam headlights peer out of compound housings slashed into the fenders. The busy front end is not going to look any better with a license plate bolted to it, a realization that might have buyers living in states requiring two plates sorely tempted to scoff at that particular law.
Side view shows what at a quick first glance could be the Infiniti coupe. There's a nice balance between hood and boot, which are split by a perfectly proportioned glasshouse. Right-sized tires on airy alloy wheels fill round wheel wells. Topping it off is something called a Z character line that broadcasts sportiness to passersby. The curves of the body catch the light and shadow and a Z-shaped reflection breaks up what would otherwise be a large expanse of sheet metal along the sides of the car.
To the extent there's any Hyundai legacy in the Genesis Coupe it's found in the hindmost view. Were it not for the car's mass, followers might think they were tailgating a Tiburon, the smaller, lower priced, less-sophisticated sporty coupe (phased out during the 2008 model year). There's the same lower valance with almost identical wide spaced exhaust tips, a similar oval ness to the taillight rear bumper fascia trunk lid grouping and the same tucked-in tapering of the rear quarter panels behind the rear tires. This isn't to say the look is other than pleasant, but the clear visual linkage to that older, lesser coupe is strong enough that it could dim the new coupe's up-market prospects, at least to those following behind.
2011 Genesis Coupes come with new soft-touch, matte-finish surfaces on the door panels, center speaker grille, glove box, and lower instrument panel; plus dark metal-colored accents on center stack, door handles, air vent bezels and steering wheel hub. Armrests are now padded, a softer leather covers the steering wheel, and even the inner A-pillars are now dressed in cloth. Coat hooks have been added in the rear-seat area, and flashes of chrome complete the facelift. Where function and feel matter, the Genesis Coupe measures up.
The front seats are comfortable but sufficiently assertive to hold the backside in place during spirited motoring, especially in the 2.0T with its basic black cloth. The 3.8's leather is a nice touch of semi-luxury. The back seats are only for small children and, in some states, lower insurance premiums.
The steering wheel feels good, with just the right rim thickness and cross section. The shift knob, steering wheel and driver's seat hip-point triangulate well for 90-percentile males. The column-mounted shift paddles for the Shiftronic automatics are at the fingertips of hands at the 10-and-2 o'clock positions and are within reach from 9-and-3. The up/down slot on the console mounted shift gate opens toward the driver, where it's a natural tug at the lever. The foot pedals are where the driver's feet expect; heel and toe with the 6 speed manuals could be easier but doesn't demand a stretch or awkward ankle twist. Unlike the buttons for the power windows, which are placed on the door armrest at an odd angle and using them is awkward.
The primary gauges are analog, with coolant temperature and fuel gauges embedded in the base of the speedometer and tachometer, respectively. Basic, bright red needles communicate their information quickly and surely. Knobs, buttons and rocker switches for the audio and climate management controls are large and logically located, with audio controls up top for ready access requiring minimal shift of the driver's line of sight away from the road ahead, to which a low dash gives bay window-like visibility. Quite the contrary is true for lane checks; despite a recessed lower sill that expands the glass area, the rear quarter windows offer limited visibility, in large part due to the large C-pillar.
Front-seat roominess is very good by coupe standards. Front-seat headroom in the Genesis Coupe tops that in the RX-8 and 3 Series coupe by about one inch, while legroom bests those two by at least an and inch and a half. Hip room in the Genesis Coupe's front seats is wider by almost three inches than in the RX-8's seats. (BMW, like most German carmakers, does not publish figures on hip room.)
If rear seats must be added to the chart, the Coupe does not fare well, trailing in head room by two inches, in leg room by two to three inches or more, but eking out a win by one inch over the RX-8 in hip room. But what do you care? You won't be sitting back there.
With 10 cubic feet of cargo space, the Genesis Coupe holds more than the Mazda RX-8 (7.6 cu. ft.), a little less than the BMW 3 Series coupe (11 cu. ft.). The rear seat of the Genesis Coupe folds down to increase cargo capacity, but the opening is small.
Bringing the Genesis Coupe to market at this price point meant compromises. Fortunately, Hyundai made those compromises elsewhere and not in the handling package. It's a pleasant ride in cruise mode and surprisingly fun, and competent, during play time.
If there's a complaint, it's with steering feel at high speeds over anything other than glass-smooth pavement, when too much sensitivity to surface irregularities feeds back through the steering wheel; the best descriptor is high strung. This afflicts the 2.0T more than it does the 3.8, which is more relaxed, but both feel as if they could use a little more damping. Driven hard on a closed track, however, both were a delight, nicely balanced, with just a smidgen of understeer from the mild front-end weight bias. One of the benefits of rear-wheel drive is that it allows the driver to better control the car in a turn using the throttle. Lifting off the throttle after carrying too much speed into a corner (a driving mistake) kicked the rear end out a bit, but a touch of opposite lock and giving it gas put everything back in line.
What was truly fun was turning off the electronic stability control and using that same throttle to manage the line through a turn and then to draw different exit lines in search of the optimum entry line into the next turn. All of which every one of the Genesis Coupe powertrain combinations took in stride, never surprising with some unexpected dynamic resulting from an unnecessary compromise during development. Sure, the Track editions' envelopes were more expansive, especially in the braking category (love those Brembos!) but the other two models were no slouches.
Power delivery in the 2.0T was linear with virtually no evidence of turbo lag. Power was sometimes in short supply for executing a pass on mountain two lanes. Shifts in the automatics were smooth and precise. Upshifts are controlled solely by the driver when the Shiftronic is in manual mode. Shift throws in the manuals were short but could have been more precise.
The ride was comfortable on well-maintained interstates, showing some rough edges only on weathered urban roads, where broad expansion joints and broken pavement sent jolts through the suspension hard points. Road and tire noise was mostly muted, as was wind noise, even at interstate speeds.
The Hyundai Genesis Coupe offers sporty handling and rear-wheel drive. Our impression was the Genesis Coupe rides smoother than the Mazda RX-8, though it feels less sophisticated than the BMW 3 Series coupes. Power and fuel economy from the four-cylinder and V6 engines is competitive. The BMWs are tops in styling, and those two and the Mazda have richer, although not necessarily more comfortable, interiors. Then there's price. Sticker for the Genesis Coupe starts out lower than the least expensive RX-8 by about $4000 and by more than $15,000 than the least expensive of the BMWs. In terms of value, the Genesis Coupe prevails. Interior revisions for 2011 add to the appeal.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Tom Lankard filed this report from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T ($22,250); 2.0T R-Spec ($24,500); 2.0T R-Spec ($23,750); 2.0T Premium ($26,750); 3.8 R-Spec ($26,750); 3.8 Grand Touring ($29,750); 3.8 Track ($30,750).
Ulsan, South Korea.
Options As Tested
iPod cable ($35); carpet floor mats ($105).
Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Premium ($26,750).
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