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Monday, November 30, 2009
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
As one of only two Korean automotive journalists that I know, Korean cars have been a subject of soreness on the grandest scale. For years I've had to endure all the wisecracks, pokes and slurs about the design, quality and performance-or lack thereof-the KDM OEs had to offer. And sadly, for most part, they were right. There really wasn't anything I could do to defend my homeland's four-wheeled honor. It was like hearing a bad "yo' momma" joke, if my mom was blonde, severely obese and low on the IQ totem pole. But wait . . . hear that? Cue: rustling. That's the wind of change. Its name: the Genesis-Hyundai's codeword for their new rear-wheel-drive platforms.
Admittedly, my Korean brethren did not invent RWD, nor is it a new technology. Like iPhones and MMS, Hyundai was a tad bit late to the party. I prefer to think it was for the sake of fashion-that, or like the process of Kimchee, the idea of a driveshaft and rear differential took some time to marinate. Popular Korean dish simile aside, the award-winning, sedan-form of the Genesis not only revolutionized Hyundai's perception as a brand, it redefined the luxury sedan market, offering options and amenities other makes would charge tens of thousands more for. Having never driven that Genesis, I can't tell you how it is, but I can say with extra-certainty the Genesis Coupe will rock your world harder than a sniff of extra-fermented cabbage.
Available in two motor options, a V-6 and turbocharged I-4, in stock trim, the bigger six has the necessary power to move the 3,300-plus lbs of steel. On the track, the 306hp Genesis Coupe 3.8 hangs with the likes of G37s and RX-8s and the 266 lb-ft of torque breaks traction with just a pulse of the throttle. And these aren't arcane comparisons, but truths experienced at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, NV-not bad for Hyundai's rookie player. Likewise, taken to SP Engineering in City of Industry, CA, the V-6 put down a respectable 261.6 whp and 237.6 lb-ft of torque.
It's not just what's under the hood, either. The Genesis Coupe's chassis has 24-percent higher bending rigidity than an E46 M3 and the front dual-link MacPherson struts and five-link rear give it precise handling. My only gripe is the steering wheel-while I appreciate all the wheel-mounted controls, the construction feels spongy. Nothing a little Nardi can't fix. That, and save up for some suspension and you have an instant drift machine. With a factory warranty. Not just any ol' warranty either, but one that covers the original owner repair or replacement on powertrain components for 10 years/100k miles. That's like having a decade's worth of Hyundai dealers acting as your personal pit crew.
As good as the Genesis Coupe 3.8 is, the turbocharged four . . . not so much. If the car were 600 lbs lighter and devoid of all the necessary safety stuff and fancy options such as the six-speed manual, A/C, cruise control, Bluetooth, CD player, keyless entry, and iPod connectivity, all included in the base trim, it would put the Genesis Coupe 2.0T in Nissan S13 weight territory and prove to be formidable, stock. But it's not. Because we, the consumer, desire safety and widgets, which the Genesis coupe is laden with, the 2.0T doesn't have the hp-to-weight ratio a sports car requires. Rated at 210 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque from the factory, our 2.0T filled with the recommended 87 octane (yes, 87-the turbo four is tuned from Hyundai for standard fuel) put down an impressive 191.4 hp and 221.1 lb-ft to the wheels on SP Engineering's dyno. Despite the underrated power, for non-enthusiasts (i.e., not you), the turbo-four will feel like a sluggish, naturally-aspirated big I-4 or small V-6. For enthusiasts (i.e., you), the turbo reeks of spicy, garlick-y potential. Starting sub $23K, the Genesis Coupe 2.0T is a RWD, turbocharged platform from the factory that's screaming at the top of its lungs: "Tune me, please!" Intake? Sure! Full exhaust? Yes, please. Boost controller? Go for it. ECU and tune? Why freaking not.
But before you get started, one might want to start with the Track-equipped 2.0T. It tacks on the Premium trim goodies (power driver's seat, Infinity audio, sunroof, proximity key, HomeLink mirror) and adds 19-inch wheels with summer tires, Brembo brakes, track-tuned suspension, Torsen limited slip differential, HID headlights, fog lamps, aluminum pedals, aero wiper blades, rear spoiler, and upgraded seats, raising the MSRP from $22,750 to $27,500. But for true enthusiasts, there's the R-Spec. This tuner-friendly model keeps the Brembos, LSD, stiffer suspension, and 19-inch wheels from the Track package, strips some of the heavier options, and comes in at a competitive price (much less than the Track package), proving that the Korean OEs are finally starting to get it. And I couldn't be more stoked.