Lately, Hyundai's incursions into various automotive segments seem as uncharacteristic of the value-oriented automaker as a one-octave range in a Mariah Carey tune. The lauded Genesis luxury sedan is a prime example, and Hyundai has followed it with the new 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. They're both rear-wheel drive, and in the upper trim levels are positioned as bona-fide rivals to heavy hitters Lexus, BMW and Infiniti. Though platform siblings, we're not sure why the Genesis Sedan and Coupe share a name. They're as different as Charlie Sheen and...the guy who isn't Charlie Sheen who plays his brother on Two and a Half Men. One is a large, plush luxury sedan; the other a frisky, firmly sprung sport coupe. But we do know this: They're both pretty darn good.
Starting at around $23,000 for the base 2.0T (turbocharged inline-4) version and running up to around $32,000 for the loaded 3.8 V6 Track model, the Genesis Coupe line proudly keeps Hyundai's quality-with-value philosophy intact. We drove a Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track, meaning it had such goodies as 19-inch alloy wheels wearing sticky Bridgestones, a track-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential, HID headlights, leather/cloth sport seats, keyless entry/ignition and a 10-speaker audio system with a CD changer, satellite radio and auxiliary audio jack.
On paper, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe looks pretty good, and on pavement it doesn't disappoint. With its rear-wheel drive and well-sorted suspension, the Genesis Coupe 2.0T felt finely balanced during aggressive driving. The sharp handling is there, as are the solid steering feel and refined highway ride. But although the turbo-4 has a decent amount of thrust and puts up solid numbers, its blasé character is a sour note on this otherwise rocking little number. For more demanding enthusiasts, it may be worth it to spend the extra bucks on the V6. But on the whole, other than the new Camaro V6, there's really not another rear-drive sport coupe in the low-to-mid-$20K price range that can touch the Genesis Coupe 2.0T.
The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is available with either a 210-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four or a 306-hp 3.8-liter V6. As indicated by the model's name, our Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track had the turbo-4. In today's world of 300-hp V6s, 210 hp doesn't sound like much, but some of us remember when 200 hp was respectable for a V6. The turbo puts up good numbers: 6.9 seconds for the 0-60-mph dash and a 15-second-flat quarter-mile. Put the spurs to it hard and you can feel some driveline lash (perhaps due to soft engine mounts to dampen vibration) but in normal driving this is a nonissue. The six-speed manual had solid, precise throws through the gates and the clutch is likewise user-friendly with a light, progressive action.
Though this Hyundai can hustle, it just doesn't seem like it enjoys it. Engine revs drop off rather slowly when you lift off the gas, as if it's fitted with a cast-iron flywheel. Furthermore, the engine is tuned for low and midrange power, so it fizzles out as the tach's needle flirts with redline. Also, the engine's note is more Hoover than high performance. Perhaps a low-restriction air filter and a performance exhaust system would help the force-fed four's soundtrack. High-speed highway cruising, however, is quiet and refined, with 75 mph equating to 3,000 rpm.
Braking and handling are hard to fault. At the track we recorded an impressive 111-foot stopping distance from 60 mph and noted virtually no brake fade in five efforts. A minor gripe centered on pedal feel; though action is progressive and confident for the most part, there is a bit of initial dead travel before the brakes bite. We averaged around 22 mpg against EPA estimates of 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
With less weight in the nose than the already agile Genesis Coupe V6, the Coupe 2.0T eats up the squiggly lines on a map like a kid slurping spaghetti. The quick-witted steering has ideal weighting and no slop on-center. Turn-in is immediate and the car feels buttoned down through serpentine turns. Even midcorner bumps don't upset the chassis, and the car feels smaller and lighter (at nearly 3,400 pounds, it's still no flyweight) than it is.
Full-on sport seats are provided for pilot and co-pilot and they provide a combination of touring comfort and proper support. Aggressive side bolsters that extend up to the shoulders hold you in place while you enjoy the coupe's impressive handling on twisting canyon roads. Although the steering wheel doesn't telescope (it's tilt-only), our tall staffers had no complaints with the driving position, though a few shorter editors wished the wheel could've been farther away. The pair of well-shaped rear seats looks promising and is comfortable...provided you're on the shorter side. Those approaching 6 feet will have to adopt the fetal position to ride back there.
Although this was the Track version, with the requisite firmed-up suspension, big (19-inch) wheels and low-profile tires, the ride was reasonably supple for a sport-tuned car, even on the pockmarked roads around L.A. Over segmented, concrete freeways, there was a fair amount of jiggling and head-bobbing, but no worse than in most competitors.
Stylish touch buttons are used for some of the audio and climate control functions, while tried-and-true twist knobs are used for volume, fan speed and temperature. Overall, it's an easy-to-use layout, but some editors who like their music loud were a bit disappointed in the "premium" Infinity audio system. Even though it boasts 360 watts and 10 speakers, the sound wasn't as full and crisp as we expected when it was cranked up. Both front windows feature one-touch up/down operation -- a nice touch in this price segment.
For a sport coupe, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe does well in terms of handling cargo. For a capacity specification of just 10 cubic feet, the trunk can swallow some big items. Our standard golf bag slipped in without a problem, as did our large roller suitcase. A rear-facing child safety seat will fit in the backseat, though -- not surprisingly for a sport coupe -- maneuvering it into place requires care so you don't throw out your back.
Design/Fit and Finish
Obviously influenced by the Infiniti G37 coupe, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe still has a few sharp touches of its own, specifically the aggressive side sculpting and the quirky dip in the rear quarter windows. No need for aftermarket rims either, as the standard 19-inch alloy wheels are quite handsome. Other than the generic grille, this is an eye-catching car that looks considerably more expensive than it is.
A sporty red and black color scheme brightened up the cockpit of our tester, as did splashes of metallic trim on the steering wheel and center stack. The deeply hooded gauges are easy to read, even in direct sunlight, but the same can't be said for the trip computer's display that's nestled between them, as its blue digits didn't offer enough contrast. Build quality is very good, with tight, even gaps all around. Materials quality is a little hit or miss, but otherwise acceptable given the Genesis' price point.
Who should consider this vehicle
Enthusiasts looking for a well-rounded, rear-drive sport coupe with an emphasis on handling and a strong bang-for-the-buck factor.
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