Hyundai Builds a Rear-Drive GT
Our 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track is painted Bathurst Black. That's Bathurst as in Bathurst 1000, a 620-mile (1,000-km) race on Australia's Mount Panorama Circuit, a 3.9-mile road course with 23 turns, grades of up to 16 percent and a 1.2-mile-long straightaway named Conrod Straight after a spectacular engine failure endured by racer Frank Kleinig in 1939.
Only heavily modified Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores in the V8 Supercar series (Australia's take on NASCAR) race at Bathurst today, so there's no obvious connection to the unassuming black clearcoat on our V6-equipped 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track.
But as we drive the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, we can imagine Hyundai's chassis engineers fine-tuning the ride and handling of their first rear-wheel-drive coupe on the demanding Bathurst circuit. Probably the cost constraints of building a $30,000 car don't allow for working holidays Down Under. Yet the 2010 Genesis Coupe isn't some soggy two-door version of the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan.
Instead you'll find a very capable chassis underneath the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track's arresting bodywork. Hyundai's sport coupe might not be track-ready out of the box, but it doesn't wither when we pitch it into Bathurst-like turns on lumpy two-lane roads.
More GT Than Track
Of course, with "Track" in its name, you expect the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track to have an edge to it, as if its chassis has been tuned to the limits of its potential.
But on back roads and at our test track, our Bathurst Black coupe is easygoing almost to a fault. Perhaps Hyundai executives weren't quite comfortable with the idea of sending a true track-day weapon down the assembly line. After all, even in basic trim, the 2010 Genesis Coupe is the highest-performance car the company has ever built.
So think of the Track, which is the top trim level on U.S.-market 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupes, as a sport package. For a starting price of $30,250, our 3.8 Track comes with higher-rate springs, firmer dampers and stiffer antiroll bars than the base Genesis 3.8 and 3.8 Grand Touring models. And then there are the 19-inch wheels with 225/40R19 front and 245/40R19 rear Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires, a Brembo brake kit with fixed four-piston calipers at each corner, a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, and a front strut-tower brace.
Come late March, you'll also be able to get the 2.0T Track, which combines all of the above with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, or the Genesis R-Spec coupe ($24,500), which is a 2.0T Track, less trivialities like a sunroof, spoiler, foglights, Bluetooth, cruise control, trip computer and metallic interior trim.
Poking Its Soft Underbelly
The R-Spec will be the lightest of the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupes and as such, likely the best starting point for track use.
Yet the first thing we notice about our 3.8 Track coupe is just how light and unencumbered it feels transitioning through turns on Lake Hughes Road. Remember we're talking about a rear-drive V6 coupe with a 111-inch wheelbase, a 63-inch front track and a 63.6-inch rear track.
It tips Inside Line's scales at 3,488 pounds versus the 3,549 pounds we quoted for the Korean-market version. The similarly sized Infiniti G37 weighs 3,715, while the Nissan 370Z, which is 15 inches shorter, weighs 3,359 pounds.
Compared to not only these coupes but also the similarly priced BMW 128i, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track reacts to your inputs in slower, softer fashion. Although decently weighted for most situations, the steering feels a bit dull and overboosted when you're running hard. And although the Genesis coupe's 68.2-mph slalom speed is respectable, the others range from 1 mph faster through the cones (128i) to 1.5 mph faster in our most recent test (G37).
Similarly, the 3.8 Track coupe's Brembo brakes are effective, stopping the coupe in 111 feet from 60 mph at our test track. However, pedal bite is less immediate than we'd like on a car with those famous red calipers.
Can't Keep a Good Car Down
Still, there's no denying that this 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe turns in like no other Hyundai before it, and does so with far less body roll besides.
There's also no denying that the Genesis coupe is simply a fun car. From the laterally supportive driver seat, you can tell there's ample front-tire grip, so you get back on the throttle early to tease out the tail. Certainly, you can throttle-steer any rear-wheel-drive car, but not many make it feel this accessible and safe.
We think of Bathurst as the Genesis coupe stays composed over midcorner bumps. Our test car doesn't fidget much over the grooved concrete slabs of L.A. freeways, either — an about-face from the poor ride we observed on Korean highways. Perhaps these Bridgestones are better than the KDM Hankooks. Or perhaps Hyundai has retuned the suspension.
Excellent sight lines are rare in coupes, yet the Genesis has a good view in all directions, so no excuses for not looking far down the road and no need for the 3.8 Grand Touring's back-up sensors. Were it not for the lack of a telescoping steering wheel, the driving position would be perfect, too.
Hyundai's 3.8-Liter V6 Reinvented
Although it's agreeable enough in the Azera and the Genesis sedan, we never would have imagined that Hyundai's workaday 3.8-liter V6 could work in a performance car. But it does. And in addition to a long, flat torque band, it has a big, hairy, lovable exhaust note.
Of course, 306 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 266 pound-feet of torque at 4,700 rpm don't come free, and Hyundai has made extensive changes to its double-overhead-cam V6.
As in the Genesis sedan, this V6 has variable intake and exhaust valve timing and a two-stage intake manifold. However, Hyundai altered the intake to meet the tidier packaging requirements and higher performance thresholds for the 2010 Genesis Coupe. The new exhaust system is less restrictive, and the engine calibration is revised, undoubtedly to improve top-end performance.
In addition, the crankshaft and connecting rods are lighter, benefiting both performance and fuel-efficiency. To help the engine withstand nontraditional Hyundai drivers, wider crankshaft journals, a thicker engine block and piston-cooling oil jets have also been fitted.
The V6 comes with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. You can rip off snappy downshifts with the manual gearbox, and what it lacks in direct mechanical feel, it makes up for in day-to-day ease of use.
But Hyundai Doesn't Quite Trust Us
At our test track, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track hits 60 mph in 6.4 seconds (or 6.1 seconds with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip) and goes through the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds at 97.9 mph.
Those numbers are fine, but short of Hyundai's "under 6 seconds" 0-60 claim and suspiciously pokey for a car with more than 300 hp. The overweight G37 is over half a second quicker through the quarter-mile at 13.8 seconds at 102 mph, even with 330 hp at its command. Also consider that the 128i, which is 300 pounds lighter than the Genesis but down 76 hp, easily keeps up, recording a 14.3-second quarter-mile at 96.5 mph.
It's impossible to say exactly why the Genesis coupe isn't putting up better numbers. But we do know that there's a torque-reduction feature on this car that would suck some of the fun out of Conrod Straight. Accelerate hard in 1st gear and then do a hard upshift to 2nd at or just before the marked 6,500-rpm redline. You'll get your upshift, but as the revs drop back, you'll feel an additional, artificial cut in power. It lasts for about 3 seconds.
Hyundai says this is a drivetrain protection measure that's triggered at 6,800 rpm (the engine's true redline). However, the car's tachometer lags behind actual engine rpm, so it takes trial and error to find a shift point that keeps you out of the protection zone. Oddly enough, you don't get any intervention until you actually complete your upshift — you can ride the engine to the rev limiter with impunity.
"There's some talk about minimizing the delay, so that it's maybe just a second, but nothing has been signed off," Miles Johnson, Hyundai communications manager, tells us. "The car is going to market with the 3-second calibration."
Even a 1-second delay compromises acceleration, though. Moreover, the automatic torque reduction makes it difficult to get a smooth gearchange at even two-thirds throttle, as it exacerbates the drivetrain lash already present due to the Genesis coupe's soft engine mounts.
Seriously Good for $30K
Although the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track's torque-reduction feature drives us up the wall, it's hardly surprising that automakers' executives are nervous given the recent controversy surrounding the Nissan GT-R's transmission.
And, really, this is the one major flaw on a car that's otherwise easy to drive quickly on back roads, yet refined enough not to be annoying during your commute. Would we prefer sharper overall reflexes? Definitely, and the aftermarket should see to that.
It's also true that we might ultimately prefer the more athletic engine and purer handling of the BMW 128i. But it would probably be tougher to get a 128i the way we want it (i.e., with the Sport package) without straying from the $30,000 mark. And for $30K, there isn't a better rear-drive sport coupe than the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track. Well, at least not until we try the R-Spec.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Editor in Chief Scott Oldham says:
Hyundai has just reinvented the affordable performance sport coupe in America. The rear-wheel-drive Genesis coupe is nothing short of a seismic shift in what the buyers of such machines will expect for their hard-earned $25,000 or so. Cars like the Chevy Cobalt SS, Honda Civic Si, Mitsubishi Eclipse GT and Volkswagen GTI just became so last year. Stick a fork in all those front drivers, they are done.
By building a well-assembled, small-engined, affordable, rear-wheel-drive coupe Hyundai has gone where Mazda and Nissan refused. This is the SR20 Silvia guys have been building in their garages for 10 years, only it has satellite radio, stability control and a 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. You've seen the Super Bowl commercial by now, the one with Rhys Millen drifting the snot out of a yellow Genesis coupe around Road Atlanta; well, it's no bull. This car can do that.
It's nothing short of epic. Truly something special.
Overstated? Not even close. The Genesis coupe really is that good. Perfect? No. The steering can use a little more feel and the spongy rubber bushings in the shifter have to go, but for the price, this is the car to buy.
And for Mitsu, Chevy, VW and Honda, it's back to the old drawing board.