2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track Road Test

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

(2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Manual)
  • 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track Picture

    2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track Picture

    The engine is willing, but the Bridgestones don't like to smoke even though they deliver plenty of cornering grip. | September 15, 2009

24 Photos

Dream Car

Really, who wouldn't want to drive a car like this?

Adventurous and even extravagant styling, a breath of beauty. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine that tries to give you both power and fuel economy, a real statement of modernity. And coupe packaging, something expressive and personal instead of politically correct.

Plus this one is red; a real, pulse-pounding European-style red instead of some watered-down color that resembles low-calorie tomato soup.

The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T track takes all your prejudices about cars from Korea and flushes them right into the gutter. It challenges you to believe that a Hyundai can be desirable instead of merely sensible.

We didn't believe it could be done, either.

Forget the Genesis Sedan
Maybe the only thing really holding back the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track is its Genesis label. While Hyundai is justifiably proud of its new rear-wheel-drive Genesis vehicle architecture, this coupe is vastly different in personality from the Genesis sedans. All the fat has been baked out during the coupe's development process and the result is something completely different.

You can feel the difference in the first hundred yards or so, just as we did the first time we got in this car and wheeled it out of the depths of a parking garage, climbed a long ramp toward the exit and suddenly emerged into a bright, warm afternoon. The car practically hopped with eager anticipation. Shrunk down to an overall length of 182.3 inches on a long wheelbase of 111 inches, some 73.4 inches wide and just 54.3 inches tall, the Genesis Coupe is a personal-size car, a real coupe instead of merely a two-door sedan, and you can feel a kind of urgency coursing through its structure.

In fact, structure might have much to do with the rear-wheel-drive coupe's character, as Hyundai tells us it has employed a fair amount of high-strength steel in this package and even claims that this car is 24 percent more rigid than the last-generation BMW M3, the E46. While it's fair to say that BMW has moved on some since that car from the 2000 model year, the very idea of mentioning Hyundai and BMW in the same breath makes us feel strangely disoriented, as if a tear has suddenly appeared in the fundamental fabric of the universe.

Your Personal Road
From the first, you feel at home in this coupe, and the road seems to flow naturally over the hood, through the windshield and into the cockpit, perfectly scaled to your expansive view over the low, broad dash. The driving position is utterly natural, with the controls centered in front of you, your hands resting instinctively on the steering wheel and your legs stretched comfortably in front of you. You're low and leaned back, yet completely in command, caught up in a little miracle of ergonomics that seems to elude the human-factor engineers at BMW.

A lot of this coupe's character comes from its light weight. Of course, we'll admit that the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T with its 210-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine is only 95 pounds lighter by Hyundai's measurement than the comparable 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe V6 with its 306-hp 3.8-liter V6. But let's not overlook the fact that this 2.0T model is a stunning 277 pounds lighter than a BMW 335i coupe and 322 pounds lighter than an Infiniti G37 oupe.

The 2.0T comes in three different models — plain, Premium and Track. The plain and Premium are available with either a six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual, but the Track is available only with the six-speed manual. And as you'd expect, the Track has a complete complement of high-performance hardware to fulfill the promise of its name. There are Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer-performance tires (225/40YR19 front, 245/40YR19 rear) on 19-inch wheels. There are Brembo brakes with four-piston front calipers and 13.4-inch front rotors matched with 13-inch rear rotors. And there is a track-tuned suspension with higher rate springs and dampers, plus a significantly stiffer rear antiroll bar to reduce understeer.

You don't have to look far to find evidence of the Track package's impact, as this car circles the skid pad at 0.87g, which equals the 0.87g achieved by the V6-powered Genesis Coupe. Since the 2.0T's weight advantage over the V6 lies in more balanced weight distribution overall (54.1 percent front, 45.9 percent rear), response from the quick-ratio steering is crisper and more immediate, and it results in a 69.3-mph run through the slalom, some 1.1 mph quicker than the comparable V6 Genesis Coupe with the Track package. At the same time, this car is also 2.3 mph slower than a BMW 335i coupe through the slalom and 2 mph slower than the Infiniti G37 coupe, perhaps because its weight distribution is still significantly more nose-heavy than the competition.

Breathless Power
The news isn't as good when it comes to the performance of the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T's turbocharged 1,998cc inline-4. With engine architecture developed by Hyundai and adopted by Mitsubishi and then Chrysler as a part of the cooperative program known as GEMA (Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance), the Hyundai Lambda engine has more in common with the power plant in the Dodge Caliber than the one in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. The pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft are cast rather than forged, and the intake ports are relatively constricted.

Despite its humble specification, what Hyundai describes as a "low-pressure turbo engine" actually is up to 8.7 psi of boost with spikes of 17.5 psi to maximize torque at low rpm, plus it's equipped with an air-to-air intercooler to maximize efficiency, and variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust cams. As our own dynamometer runs with the 2.0T reveal, however, all this goes to building up the bottom of the power curve, so this engine has given its best long before the 6,500-rpm redline is reached. It is rated at 210 hp at 6,000 rpm and 223 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm.

At the test track, this translates into a run to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.9 seconds (6.6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip). The quarter-mile comes up in 15.0 seconds at 91.8 mph and top speed is electronically limited to 137 mph. Thanks to shorter gear ratios in its six-speed transmission and a shorter final-drive ratio, the 2.0T is only a half second slower than the 3.8 V6 to both 60 mph and the quarter-mile, which is a feat of some accomplishment.

The other half of the performance equation is this car's excellent fuel economy, as it's EPA rated at 21 mpg city (estimated) and 30 mpg highway (estimated).

Can You Feel It?
As you'd expect, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe has an entirely different character with a turbo-4 under its hood than a V6. The 306-hp V6 urges you to test the chassis' goodness and you find yourself slithering through the corners, challenging the limits of traction. The 2.0T is a momentum machine, tidy and efficient. The Genesis Coupe's European-style suspension calibration works to your advantage here, because the suspension works with an exquisitely damped resiliency that keeps the tires on the pavement, making you feel masterfully coordinated as you dive into corners and then come out the other side. The truth is, you don't have enough power to bust the tires loose anyway.

The six-speed transmission works to your advantage, though, because the short-throw shift action and positive gear engagement enhance performance. It has some of the character of a Nissan manual transmission, only everything is damped a bit for an impression of refinement.

Speaking of damping, the drivetrain itself feels as if it's riding in soft mounts to dampen vibration, much like the V6 in the Genesis Coupe V6. As a result, the 2.0T's drivetrain winds up unpleasantly when you hammer the throttle pedal. In fact, this is far from a grip-it-and-rip-it kind of car. Between shifts, the engine rpm hangs up momentarily, so you have to shift more deliberately than you'd like in order to be smooth. Hyundai engineers report this is part of a strategy to keep from dumping a load of unspent hydrocarbons into the catalyst, thereby ensuring that the catalyst meets its required 100,000-mile durability target.

This sort of tuning isn't uncommon these days (the Honda Civic being a notably unpleasant example), but it's very noticeable here and really undercuts the engine's performance. Even at low speed, the lean surge of the engine can be noticeable. Altogether this engine delivers tractable power, but never excitement. It really never shows much enthusiasm for winding the tachometer needle around the dial, as if it's meant to go through life churning an automatic transmission rather than a manual gearbox.

Beyond Respectability
The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T fulfills the promise of the design studios and technical centers that Hyundai has brought on stream in both Korea and the United States over the last decade. It is thoroughly modern in spirit, even as its seemingly modest specifications hold down the price. Unlike so many other Hyundai models, it never gives you the impression that it's trying to imitate something else.

Maybe this is the unexpected benefit of building a coupe. This is the kind of car to which everyone aspires, even as they despair of owning one because the price of cars like the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G37 has risen above the $40,000 mark. But with the 2010 Hyundai Coupe 2.0T Track priced at $26,750, there is now a Euro-style coupe that everyone can dream of owning.

Hyundai. Dream. Imagine that.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Second Opinion

Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot says:
I want to be a fan of the Genesis Coupe turbo, I really do. And there is plenty to love. I love its dynamic goodness. I love its spectacular styling. And I love that its engine makes more than its rated power.

But I'm just not a fan.

And here's why: A chassis this capable under a body this mean-looking needs enough power to back up the statement made by the rest of the package. And the 2.0-liter turbo engine just doesn't live up to that promise. Sure, this is supposed to be the "tuner"-friendly version of the coupe, right?

But a closer look at the engine reveals some inherent weaknesses relative to another version of the mill used in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. A cast crank and rods will be the biggest factors initially, but the open-deck block design makes really big power a serious obstacle.

The tiny single-scroll turbo will be the first cork in the system to be dismissed. Plus, the aftermarket rarely lets this kind of thing slow down the ambitions of anxious owners. And precise engine controls and calibration go a long way toward making modest power gains safe. So time will tell if these weak parts and small turbo really matter.

What does matter, for now, is the fact that in stock form, the 2.0T engine lacks the power to influence the Genesis Coupe's chassis in any meaningful way. Power oversteer in any gear other than 1st is an optimist hope at best. What's more, the tiny turbo gives a solid torque hit when the throttle is initially opened, but then falls flat, which makes for a rather arduous crawl to redline.

And I don't like arduous crawls to redline. Even when they come cheap. It's simply hard to be a fan of any car that offers so much bark but delivers so little bite.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe in VA is:

$154 per month*
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