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2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec - First Drive

Hyundai renders a track-oriented RWD sports car.

Mar 18, 2011
Modp 1104 01 o+2011 hyundai genesis coupe r spec+left side view Photo 1/2   |   2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec - First Drive

The R-Spec version of the Genesis Coupe 3.8 is a testosterone-injected version of its 3.8 Genesis Coupe model sibling, offering a stiffer suspension setup that’s up to the task of conquering any racetrack. And you better believe it’s up to the task of competing with its biggest rival, the Nissan 370Z, while costing thousands less. But after flogging the R-Spec on the track and enjoying it as a daily driver, there’s something still missing from the equation to get it just right. That’s why despite it living up to expectations on a spec sheet, it still falls short to the 370Z in driving experience.

Don’t get me wrong, the R-Spec delivers great performance in all the right places. The 3.8-liter V-6 turns out 306 hp and 266 ft-lbs torque, offering plenty of get up and go, and the large Brembo brake system is always more than willing to bring the 3,389-lb car down to a grinding halt. Even the track-tuned suspension with stiffer springs and larger sway bars is nimble and agile enough to let you know that you aren’t in a regular Genesis Coupe. Throw in a limited slip differential, 19-inch wheels and the combination of all these things makes for a damn good sports car for a very alluring base price of $26,750.

That’s where it stops, though. The driving experience seems a bit rough around the edges, whether that’s an intended characteristic or not is hard to know. Even though there are 306 horses being turned out by the large-displacement V-6, it comes through a narrow powerband; the midrange is great, but after that the engine seems to fall flat, limiting power near redline and hanging the throttle plate open causing that annoying small amount of extra rpm gain despite your foot being off the throttle. This throttle calibration seems to be reversed (or it could be a lazy clutch pedal setup, who knows) when driving sedately because if an ample amount of throttle isn’t provided during a gear change, the entire car bucks in revolt. Then there’s the feedback from the steering wheel, or lack thereof. It feels too light and unresponsive; a heavier feel would communicate what the car is doing much better.

Modp 1104 02 o+2011 hyundai genesis coupe+front interior Photo 2/2   |   2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec - First Drive

There’s no arguing that the outside body lines define what a sports car should look like today, and the interior, although a tad on the economic side, is well laid out while the seats provide good support. The R-Spec ticks all the right boxes when it comes to offering what track junkies and tuners are looking for. Somehow, though, it still needs more refinement to compete with the top dogs, namely the 370Z. You can argue about the price difference all you want, but there’s no denying the Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec has its guns set on the Z, and even though it has made great strides to catch it, the Z still reigns supreme. That doesn’t mean the R-Spec isn’t a great buy in fact, if that’s all your budget can afford, then it’s the best out there.

Specs & Details
'11 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec
Engine
3.8-liter naturally aspirated V-6
Horsepower 306 at 6300 rpm
Torque 266 ft-lbs at 4700 rpm
Transmission 6-speed close ratio manual
MSRP $26,750

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