Not too long ago, the idea of a performance-minded Hyundai would have been met with many questionable looks from automotive enthusiasts. Because the Korean carmaker is known primarily for its practical family cars, the Hyundai team had quite an uphill battle on their hands when they decided to dive into a new market with the first Genesis coupe in 2008. That being said, Hyundai did a fantastic job with that car, and although it’s not necessarily a benchmark for rear-wheel-drive performance, the hat must be tipped for such a successful and valiant effort.
Fast forward to 2012. After a couple of years of being on the market, Hyundai has brought out a second-generation Genesis, a car that shares many similarities with its predecessor. The new Genesis is still offered with either a V6 or turbocharged inline-four, it’s still a 2+2 configuration, it’s still rear-wheel drive, and it’s still priced starting under $25,000. The body is still sleek and well styled, with a low profile and a wide track. And as you would imagine, the general feeling and overall driving experience are also very similar, but it’s better in almost every way. Let’s take it from the top.
When I first got a chance to look closely at the new Genesis, the front end did not sit well with me. There’s something about the large plastic piece in the middle of the front bumper that looks out of place and makes me wonder why Hyundai didn’t simply fill the grille with crossing vent lines top to bottom. We all know that having a similar face across the model line is a practice held by most automakers, but in the case of the Genesis coupe, I wish Hyundai had deviated more from the look of the Veloster. The Genesis coupe looks great from the doors back; a long windshield and sweeping roof and lift gate line work wonderfully together, and the rear end is fat but not frumpy. Perhaps wide is a better word. It looks menacing and built with purpose, a far cry from Hyundais of the ’90s and early 2000s. The large twin exhaust tips are a nice addition, as are the sport-styled factory wheels. R-Spec and Track trim levels receive 19-inch wheels, which are a welcome addition.
On the inside, the Genesis coupe manages to balance the thin line between performance and comfort. Hyundai has a lot of really nice interior and electronics optional packages, and the Genesis coupe comes standardly equipped with a touchscreen-based climate and entertainment control center. As you would expect with a new car in this segment, there are things like a USB input, a crisp-sounding factory sound system, power windows, and so on. The steering wheel controls are well placed, easy to use, and most important, they don’t interfere with driver feeling. Supportive seats are a staple in any car of this style, and Hyundai does not disappoint in that department. I got a chance to have lots of seat time on the long drive from the Las Vegas strip out to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, an appropriate venue to test the most intriguing aspect of the new Genesis coupe: performance.
If you’re planning to buy a Genesis coupe, ask yourself one important question before choosing your powertrain: Am I going modify or leave it stock? If you chose the former of those options, you should strongly consider going for the 2.0L. Given the amount of potential for upgrading the already existing turbo system, that route would probably be the least painful and easiest to milk more power out of the car. You’ll also get the benefit of improved fuel economy for those times when you need to burn petrol in an unexciting manner. However, I must honestly say that given the choice between the 2.0 turbo and the 3.8 V6, I would pick the V6 without a doubt. The motor has a lot of power, smooth delivery, a great sound, and it just feels right in a car that size. The 275hp 2.0L is a good motor, but it left me wanting more, and by “more” I do mean from the factory. There will be supercharger and turbo kits available for the 3.8 in the near future, though, and I’m sure that if one were willing to shell out the extra cash, it would be money well spent. Both motors are offered with either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission; I would, of course, highly recommend the manual. The auto holds gears well, but it doesn’t have the same feeling of driver connection to the car. My only beef with the transmission was a slightly awkward issue when downshifting from Third to Second, however, the Hyundai engineers said they would consider adding a lock out to that gate so you can fly between gears quicker without inadvertently sliding all the way over to where the Reverse gear engages. (Hint, hint, guys).
After a solid day of flogging the test cars around the track and autocross course, I am happy to say that the Genesis coupe handles extremely nicely. The Brembo brake packages offered on Track and R-Spec models are a must; don’t even consider buying a trim without those stoppers.
The Genesis coupe is a bit on the large side, but it carries itself well. There is a bit of understeer apparent, but in all honesty, it’s not a deal breaker. A careful alignment is likely all you’d need to alleviate this problem.
At the end of the day, the Genesis coupe leaves very little to be desired. If you’re looking for a great car that you can drive every day or toss around a track, there aren’t a lot of better options for the price. And aside from the questionable styling of the front end, it really does look great. I’m in the market for a new car and wouldn’t mind parking one in my own driveway. You should put it on your list as well.
Specs & Details
'13 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Engine 2.0L turbocharged DOHC inline-four, 3.8L DOHC V6
Horsepower 274, 348
Torque 275, 295
Transmission 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic w/ paddle shift SHIFTRONIC, optional limited-slip differential
Price starting at $24,250 for 2.0L, $28,750 for V6