|Hyundai Genesis Coupe
- Two raucous, high-po engine options
- Shoulders more aggressive than a defensive lineman
- Neck-snapping Brembo brakes
- Sub-$30K projected MSRP
- Stiff ride
- As of today, no planned navigation system option
Ruling: If this pre-production mule is any indication of what’s to come, even amidst a financial Pearl Harbor, Genesis Coupes won’t even make it off the transport truck before being sold.
Hyundai PR Manager Miles Johnson wanted to make it clear so he didn’t get in trouble with big chief in Korea; we didn’t drive the yet-to-be-released 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, we simply rode shotgun. But shotgun was still good enough to get a feel for what some in the automotive press are calling the next “Mustang killer”. We’re not quite sure why it’s receiving that moniker, because after our jaunt in the Genesis Coupe, it’s clear that this car has almost nothing in common with the Mustang besides it’s attractive projected MSRP of $23,000-$29,000.
Slated to replace the outgoing Tiburon, Genesis Coupe shares a couple design characteristics with its predecessor. However, from first glance, it’s clear that the benchmark for Hyundai’s upcoming rear-wheel drive sports coupe was the Infiniti G37. There are some unmistakable design cues, but before anyone can claim the Genesis Coupe to be a visual ripoff of the Infiniti, Hyundai seasoned the recipe with mighty, yet beautifully sculpted shoulders and rearseat glass that drops below the window line in a defiant, yet tasteful attempt to create a signature look that can’t be mistaken for any other design. Styling-wise, Hyundai has pulled it off. Remove the badging, and most would never guess it’s a Hyundai. Not that there’s anything wrong with a Hyundai. Quite the contrary. The brand has improved leaps and bounds since it’s American launch in the mid-80′s. It’s amazing what a 10-year warranty can do for a fledgling brand.
The Genesis Coupe will have two powerplant options; a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder which will put out a reported 212 horsepower on 87 octane and 223 on 91, and a 3.8 liter DOHC V-6 which will do north of 300 horsepower on both 87 and 91 octane and can sprint to 0-60 in under 6 seconds. Transmission options range from a 6-speed manual or manumatic to a 5-speed automatic. Drivetrains will also be available with an optional limited slip differential so both rear tires can get equal burnout abuse.
The car that Johnson took us out in was a blinding-yellow, fully-tracked out SE model with the V-6, a Brembo brake package and a 6-speed manual transmission. Right from the first throttle stomp, we were roused. The six-cylinder motor delivers incredible power numbers, especially considering the fact that it’s a non-direct injection engine. It also delivers a ferocious growl under full trompage. Even from the passenger seat, the combination of thrust and exhaust note indicates beyond a reasonable doubt that the Genesis Coupe isn’t screwing around.
For a pre-production car, the Genesis Coupe felt tight and well put together. There were almost no rattles or squeaks we noticed beyond an exhaust plate vibration at high RPMs. Of course, we only rode in it for 20 minutes; not nearly enough time to develop a sense for the little annoyances that an everyday driver experiences. The Hyundai suspension and steering was well-composed and straight even on the hellacious, bone-shaking broken bits of asphalt that the City of Fontana tries to pass off as a ‘road’. In Afghanistan? Maybe.
Once onto smoother pavement, we did notice that the suspension was on the stiff side, and Johnson confirmed our observations when he mentioned that Hyundai suspension engineers are still working on developing the optimal spring and shock combinations. But beyond the ride stiffness, which isn’t a bad thing for a track-bound machine, the Genesis Coupe was quite impressive for still being a test car. By the time it launches next spring, the few minor issues we noticed will surely be ironed out.
Although it has a nicely appointed interior with aggressive, yet comfortable sporty buckets, a simple, intuitive center stack, quality electrical switches and seemingly high-grade plastics, the Genesis Coupe still doesn’t even come close to an Infiniti interior. But that’s okay. As we saw it, the Genesis Coupe interior is perfectly adequate and passable for what it is – a sub-$30,000 performance coupe. Unlike the G-series, the Genesis not designed to be a luxury machine. Perhaps that’s why as of today the Genesis Coupe will not be offered at launch with a navigation system, something that Johnson himself admitted as a potential issue. But for real driving enthusiasts who aren’t directionally challenged and still prefer using maps (this author included), no navigation is actually a refreshing departure from the inevitable electronification of automobiles.
Everything about the Genesis Coupe points to a future success in the making. Then add on a typically generous Hyundai warranty of 5 years/60,000 miles, the pot is sweetened. Hyundai has come a long way from the early days of the wince-inducing Excel. It seems they’re actually spending a lot of money on product testing and R&D, an observation that Johnson later confirmed. Although Hyundai engineers didn’t necessarily set out to make the Genesis Coupe a “Mustang killer”, it most certainly will do its fair share of equine execution. But more than just taking on the most iconic, budget-minded muscle car, Genesis Coupe represents a paradigm shift in the Hyundai brand. With the introduction of the Genesis Coupe, it seems the Koreans have come of age in the automotive performance arena.
|Hyundai Motors America – www.hyundaiusa.com|