When most people think of Hyundai, high performance isn’t usually top of mind. Some say it’s the great warranty while others would argue between consistently-improving quality and good value. Whether being frugal is the new cool or not, the 2010 Genesis Coupe delivers both of the above, and while other automakers continue their downward spirals of decreasing sales, the South Korean car maker is among the few gainers in this depressed market.
At AJAC’s annual TestFest event last fall, the 2009 Genesis sedan overcame stiff competition on route to becoming the Canadian Car of the Year ahead of Mazda’s beautiful “6” sedan and the top-selling Toyota Corolla. Being named the 2009 North American Car of the Year didn’t hurt either. But, is the coupe as good as the sedan?
It might even be better. It’s more fun to drive, costs less and pound-for-pound (if you don’t need four doors with a big back seat or a V8 engine) few rear-wheel drive sports coupes are more economical than the Genesis coupe.
The base 2.0T starts at $24,495 with a six-speed manual and $25,595 with a five-speed automatic. A GT trim is available for $30,445, adding a limited slip differential, suspension upgrades, Brembo brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels and more premium upgrades to an impressive list of standard goodies.
My mule ($34,795 as-tested) had the bigger, naturally aspirated 3.8-litre DOHC V6, which produces 306 hp at 6,300 rpm and 266 lb-ft of twist at 4,700 rpm with paddle shifters to roll through the six-speed automatic transmission. Going the six-speed close-ratio manual route shaves $1,800 off the sticker, while stepping up to the 3.8 GT trim adds the $1,800 back on. Rated fuel economy is 11.9 and 7.3 L/100 km, city/highway.
I didn’t get to take it out on a track, but I did put a couple of hundred klicks on it on some of my favourite local roads in Halton Hills Ontario recently, where not even heavy April showers could put a damper on the whole experience.
The coupe did everything I asked of it and more…with a big smile on its fascia! Power from the V6 comes on smoothly and the six-speed ZF automatic is simply great! The car is well-balanced and composed for the everyday driver, though it’s also capable of some hair-raising performance when presented the task.
A manual sport mode allows Shiftronic stick movements, though I prefer the paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel at nine-and-three o’clock. Either way, the rev-matching is done automatically to prevent jerky downshifts that could upset a chassis.
A Torsen rear limited-slip is standard on 3.8 models, though only the 3.8 GT gets the factory Brembos, tuned suspension and such. I haven’t driven one, but the Macpherson front strut and five-link independent rear suspension on the base 3.8 is fairly sporty and the chassis already quite stiff.
With 18-inch aluminum alloys and Bridgestone rubber on the corners, the coupe is very responsive. Not overly so to the point where it’s twitchy or unpredictable – but rather it responded with a quiet confidence that handled all the curvy and vertically challenging roads I could throw at it. She’s also composed in the braking department, having withstood a barrage of full ABS stops on some empty dead roads during the height of the rainstorm without event.
Electronic stability (ESC) with traction control (TCS) comes standard, and while I spent most of my time in the car with it switched off, it does what it’s supposed to do: meaning, it keeps the back end from walking out on you and reduces wheel spin. When turned off, I found the rears will spin in first gear only (even in the wet) before the tires grab in second and you’re off to 100 km/h in about five-and-a-half seconds.
Weight distribution is 55 to the front and 45 in the rear, and, while this might make the Genesis a touch nose-heavy, it does impart precise and accurate turn-in response. Steering is direct and linear and the wheel itself feels good in the hands while offering a nice amount of feedback for the driver.
Inside, the driving position is good and the leather heated front buckets are worthy of praise for their comfort, support and adjustability. You get a great-sounding six-speaker audio system with Infinity AM/FM/XM/MP3 and CDC capabilities, auxiliary and USB inputs in the centre armrest/storage console, plus Bluetooth handsfree phone operation via the multifunction steering wheel, as well as a 5.6-inch LCD information display. I do however have a few small gripes now that we’re in the cockpit. Not having telescopic steering won’t be an issue for all but… there’s also not a lot of head or legroom for most average-sized adults in the rear seats. While the seatback does fold down to accommodate longer cargo objects, there is no split-seat (meaning it’s two or four people) and the pass-through is somewhat limited due to structural reinforcements back here. Overall fit and finish is decent, though they didn’t shy away from hard plastic surfaces in here – no doubt to keep price in check. As is common with many coupes, rear visibility is not the greatest, but I guess what it boils down to for me personally is that the interior just doesn’t feel quite as refined as the 2004 Tiburon GT Tuscani I fell in love with some five years ago.
Now in terms of the exterior in the style department, the 2010 Genesis Coupe has definitely got the look. I actually think it bears more of a resemblance to the first-generation Tiburon than it does the current G-sedan. Its classic coupe silhouette features short overhangs, a long, wide wheelbase, unique grille and an “emotionally-sculpted Z-line” that runs down both sides of its nicely sculpted body. Fog lights are standard on all trims, but on the 3.8 you also get a power sunroof, auto-leveling HID headlights, mirror-mounted turn signals and a few chrome dress-up items.
Overall – this new offering from Korea affords outstanding driving dynamics and an excellent price-to-performance ratio. It also offers up a nice selection of creature comforts, conveniences, technologies and safety features (like six airbags) that when coupled with its very stylish appearance – help make a strong case for putting the 2010 Genesis Coupe on track to keeping the Car of the Year honours in the Hyundai family….for at least another year. Exhilarating.