If there ever was a reason to believe in second chances, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a prime example. I briefly drove a Genesis Coupe 3.8 with an automaticÃ‚Â last Spring, and while I liked it, the car didn’t leave much of an impression on me. All that would change the second time around. After a week with a 3.8 Grand Touring with a proper 6-speed manual, I am impressed, and have a deep admiration for a car that would have been unthinkable to have come from Hyundai even just a couple years ago.
At first glance, one might dismiss the Genesis Coupe as a copy of the Infiniti G37 Coupe (as I did), but the more time I spent looking at the car, the car seemed to come into its own. Sure, the basic architecture-a rear-drive, 2+2 sports coupe is common, but the Genesis takes some risks where the G37 is restrained. The Hyundai has a racier, more aggressive and slightly more youthful appearance, yet still presents itself as a serious driver’s car.
As the exterior is like no Hyundai you’ve ever seen, you will not be disappointed stepping into the Genesis Coupe. Driver and passenger are greeted with a tastefully done interior. Fit and finish was excellent, and the quality of materials is as good as, if not better than other sports coupes at this price point. The heated, power leather seats were well-bolstered and comfortable. It is easy to find the optimal driving position. Although the steering wheel does not telescope, I was perfectly happy with its set position. The brown leather seats against the black dash and silver trim make for a warm, inviting atmosphere-a pleasant surprise.
Nice to look at yes, but the Genesis was mostly easy to use too, leaving you to enjoy the driving. While the gauges were clear and easy to read (a dark blue ring surround lent a nice touch), the blue digital odometer, trip computer and idiot lights are illegible if any sunlight comes near them. The center stack controls are uncluttered for such a well-equipped car. The auto climate control was “set and forget” and never required any fiddling to stay comfortable, unlike other similarly equipped cars. The 10-speaker Infinity stereo had a good, clean sound quality whose bass didn’t beat you over the head. For a low lying sports coupe, the Genesis offers an airy cabin with excellent visibility. My only complaint about the ergonomics are the power window and mirror controls-they are nearly flush against the driver’s door, requiring an uncomfortable position of your hand to use them.
So far so, good, but now it’s time to drive. The Genesis Coupe is offered with a 2.0L turbocharged four rated at 210hp, or a 3.8L V-6 rated at 306hp. Our V-6 tester sounded great, and is blessed with a nice, fat torque band. This car pulls fast and smooth no matter what your revs are, so the need to drop a gear only exists when you really want to waste the guy behind you. While the 6-speed manual is the tranny you really want, it is not perfect. I found the linkage a little notchy, and this is not a transmission that likes to be shifted quickly. The clutch is easy to modulate, and the driver is best advised to take gear changing slow and deliberate. But if I could change anything about the transmission, it would be where reverse is-left and forward of first gear. On more than one occasion when I wanted first gear I put the car into reverse. If not for an audible beep that sounds when you do put the car in reverse, I can’t tell you how many times I would have driven the Genesis straight into the car behind me.
Highway cruising, the Genesis is quiet, only until you dip into the throttle. On my favorite country roads, the car shines. Handling is excellent-no surprises, and suspension and brakes are more than up to the task. Driving at a swift pace on winding roads full of elevation changes, the Genesis was cool as a cucumber. Even more impressive was said roads, in the dead of a Connecticut winter with ruts and potholes, the car remained compliant . I’m not reaching when I say on par with BMW. Hyundai offers a sportier Track model, but I am told the ride is pretty harsh on less than ideal roads, so if you live in colder climates, you may want to stick with the Grand Touring.Ã‚Â The steering is a joy-really nice effort, and very good road feel.
For all the Genesis Coupe delivers, true to Hyundai tradition, it does so at an impressive price. Our Grand Touring, in addition the equipment already mentioned, includes xenon headlights, power moonroof, proximity key/button start/stop, Bluetooth, auto dimming rear view mirror, and backup warning system. Sticker price is $28,375, or over $3,000 less than the similarly equipped Camaro RS we reviewed. While the V-6 Camaro offers similar horsepower to the Hyundai, it delivers slightly better gas mileage. But the you really feel the extra 350lbs the Camaro carries compared to the Genesis. Having driven the Camaro and Genesis over the same roads, the Genesis would be my pick in a heartbeat.
Which leaves the Genesis Coupe in a unique position. Priced against the V-6 versions of American muscle cars, but showing the poise of pricier import sport coupes, this is a car that deserves a test drive for both markets. After spirited back road driving, I opted to Ã‚Â return home on Connecticut’s historical Merritt Parkway, where I concluded that the Genesis Coupe is truly a grand tourer-a car designed to transport driver and passenger in style, comfort, and most importantly, at speed. That the Genesis is all that and a fantastic partner on your favorite road, you have the complete package.
If you still have a hang-up about Hyundai’s, thinking they are cheap and inferior cars, it is time to check your ego and your first impressions at the door. Ã‚Â And Hyundai, you can stop talking about warranties to sell your cars. In this case, the car does all the talking you need. Like I said, Hyundai has more than earned the right for a second chance. With the Genesis Coupe, we have a true GT priced for the middle class.