American muscle is dead. SEMA 2009 is quite possibly the final sunset into which the American pony car will ride. While it may be hard to see daylight fading in SEMA’s glare of eight customized Camaros sponsored by GM, or the usual herd of V8 tuners ready to add more excess, if you step outside the corral, you will find that the American pony car’s muscle no longer fits its market or our times.
Build a Camaro SS add the RS package along with a couple of options and soon you’re in the $40K stratosphere; hardly a reflection of the original pony car ideal of taking an inexpensive sedan chassis, adding some sporty lines with a powerful engine and keeping the price point accessible. Even though we see the current Mustang GT does a reasonable job of holding on to this heritage, it’s still a top end model and priced accordingly. The Challenger SRT may be retro fabulous, but is ultimately a ridiculous machine. Sure, these are halo models intended to help shift secretary specials, but something has been lost in translation so that the fast and furious versions are now priced to be garage queens and the intended market will look elsewhere for practical rear drive performance with flair.
Enter the Genesis Coupe 2.0T. Introduced with much fanfare last year and it was immediately embraced by the tuning community. The small, but strong turbo engine in a nimble chassis is a well understood eastern formula except that this time we have rear wheel drive. Moreover, Hyundai has carefully avoided the mistake made by the Japanese in the early ‘90s when they too proudly priced the Supra and 300ZX and the market looked the other way. Therefore, the Asian sports coupe is back. You can use the front wheels to steer and you can add all of the tuner trimmings that the compact/rally rocket engineers have been working on for decades.
GReddy and HKS are among the first group of tuners to breathe more fire into the already hot Genesis Coupes. GReddy’s history and work on this new breed is best described in the SEMA press release. “GReddy’s performance products, manufactured by Trust Company, have caught the attention of the national automotive press. Throughout the years, numerous articles have been published about GReddy’s products in Motor Trend, Road & Track and other automobile enthusiast magazines. Modifications using GReddy’s parts have been highlighted in programs on the Speed Channel on cable and satellite television. Productions such as the “The Fast and the Furious” series of movies have used vehicles specifically modified with GReddy parts.”
When fitted to the Genesis Coupe 2.0T, the GReddy parts deliver 350 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs of torque with a 0-60 time under six seconds. The GReddy Total Tune-Up theme not only increases the performance of the engine, but also improves handling and braking. The finished car will blend reliable street performance with a powerful driving experience and it won’t break the bank. Even better, there are more modifications in the pipeline that will allow owners to add power and prowess as need and wallet allows. For more information about the GReddy package read the full press release, or, better yet, buy a cheap ticket to Vegas and see the GReddy Genesis Coupe 2.0T and the rest of SEMA fantastic for yourself.
Does this pony from the East hold its own with ‘Big (but diminished) 3′ muscle? The comparisons are in and the answer is a resounding yes. The quality and real world drivability of the Genesis Coupe is every bit as good as its competitors while undercutting their price by thousands which leaves a world of choices for those who want to customize and tune.
Is the Genesis Coupe a one-off attempt to make the most of Hyundai’s investment in the Genesis platform and shake up the market, or is it a legitimate trend? Toyota’s FT-86 concept certainly suggests the latter.
While many are pulling for the New GM and Chrysler, it seems like the Camaro and the Challenger are examples of too much too late. Huge V8s crammed into sassy bodies that look good in the parking lot, but are unwieldy on real roads and just don’t fit today’s market and times, especially at the going prices for the performance models. These cars will only appeal to the GenX set that didn’t get a chance at muscle the first time around and still have a need for a monthly cruise down memory lane. The lesser variants of these cars at Genesis Coupe prices will be sold to those who want a bit of style in their commute and don’t care about the pleasure of driving.
We will mourn the passing of American muscle. Long live the new ponies from the East.