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Published: 02/27/2012 - by Erin Riches, Senior Editor
Our favorite statistic about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is the take rate for its six-speed manual transmission. Company officials tell us it's 30 percent for 3.8-liter coupes like this one and a healthy 25 percent for the four-cylinder turbo model.
Those are huge numbers in this era of automated clutches and paddle shifters. And it's evidence that true car guys see the Genesis Coupe for what it really is — the most interesting car that Hyundai makes. Whereas every other model in the lineup feels like a calculated move in a chess game with Honda and Toyota, this rear-wheel-drive coupe can only be some long-suffering engineer's labor of love.
For 2013, it's even better thanks to a new direct-injected version of the 3.8-liter V6, not to mention revised styling and better interior materials. Of course, the upgrades come at a price, and in this case Hyundai has bumped the base R-Spec by $2,000. Now we have to decide if Hyundai's muscle coupe is still worth driving when it's not the deal of the century.
Where's the Money Going?
The first thing you notice about the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is the updated styling. We're not sure it's an improvement. This coupe was gorgeous before, and although it still has a nice tail, the front end comes at you like an overly aggressive manatee. Actually, make that an overly aggressive manatee with fake hood vents.
Fortunately, you're not just paying extra for these unnecessary details, as Hyundai has added direct injection to the north-south version of its 3.8-liter Lambda V6. Compression increases to 11.5:1, up from 10.4:1 on last year's car. When you fuel it up with 91 octane, it's rated at 348 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 5,300 rpm versus 306 hp at 6,300 and 266 lb-ft at 4,700 on the port-injected version.
Along with Infiniti's IPL G Coupe, this Hyundai now ranks as the second most powerful six-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive coupe in its class, slipping in just behind Nissan's 350-hp Nismo 370Z. Other key rivals are the regular-strength Infiniti G37 (330 hp), the V6 Chevrolet Camaro (323 hp) and the V6 Mustang (305 hp). The Genesis Coupe has the most torque; the Mustang has the next most grunt with 280 lb-ft.
It's no good winning the horsepower race if you don't flaunt it, so Hyundai engineers have fitted the 3.8-liter V6 with a sound resonator tube (à la the honkus in the Mustang GT) that channels various intake frequencies to the cabin.
It's highly effective, as the engine starts sounding really angry when you hit 4,500 rpm, which is also when you really feel its midrange punch. In these moments, its personality feels very different from last year's V6 — it's intense, almost brutal, while the port-injected V6 was relaxed and not far removed from the Sedona minivan.
A Better Manual
A six-speed manual transmission is mandatory on the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec, which at $29,625 is the least expensive of the V6 models (a 274-hp, turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder is the base engine on 2013 Genesis Coupes). A new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is standard on the 3.8 Grand Touring, which offers comforts like leather upholstery and a sunroof, along with a more relaxed suspension calibration and smaller (18-inch) wheels. The top Track model combines those extra amenities, plus HID headlights, with the R-Spec's torsen limited-slip differential, firmer suspension, 19-inch wheels and Brembo brake kit, and allows access to either transmission.
Shifting the six-speed was not that enjoyable on earlier Genesis Coupes, but Hyundai has made various adjustments to reduce shift effort and improve clutch take-up in this refresh. In addition, the gearbox now connects to the driveshaft via a stiffer bolt-type coupling, which helps address one of our main complaints about this car — drivetrain lash. Gearing is the same as last year, but the final drive is snappier at 3.73 versus 3.54 previously.
Although we still wish the shifter offered a more positive feel through the gates, there's little doubt this is a better manual than before and the clutch engages progressively enough that you're not pulling your hair out in heavy traffic.
Fuel economy edges up slightly for 2013, as our R-Spec coupe earns an 18 city/27 highway/21 combined mpg rating from the EPA — up from 17/26/20 for 2012. We averaged 18.2 mpg over 188 miles — the only driving we could complete before our deadline. Of course, you'd get better mpg with the automatic (18 city/28 highway/22 combined), but you wouldn't have as much fun.
So How Fast Is It?
After ripping off more than a few heel-and-toe downshifts on Glendora Mountain Road (GMR), we arrive at our test track, where the 2013 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 R-Spec hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds (or 5.0 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and completes the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 104.1 mph.
Compare that to the last 3.8 R-Spec Coupe we tested, which ran a 5.9-second 0-60 (5.6 seconds with rollout) and a 14.3-second quarter-mile at 98.0 mph and cost $2 grand less.
Our 3.8 Genesis Coupe is also quicker than the V6 Mustang, which does zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds on its way to a 13.9-second quarter-mile at 101.2 mph, as well as the G37 coupe (5.7 seconds zero to 60, 13.9-second quarter-mile at 101.4 mph) and the IPL G coupe (5.8 seconds zero to 60, 14.0-second quarter-mile at 102.1 mph). And it's right in line with our long-term 370Z (5.3 seconds zero to 60, 13.6-second quarter-mile at 103.2 mph) and the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec sedan (5.3 seconds to 60, 13.5 at 105.2 mph).
Yet our 2013 3.8 R-Spec tester probably would have been even quicker if it weren't for the drivetrain protection measure that Hyundai continues to program into all manual-shift Genesis Coupes. Upshift at the marked 6,750-rpm redline and you get a momentary cut in power in the next gear. As in the past, the tachometer seems to lag behind the actual engine speed, so upshifting just before the redline will sometimes still trigger the power reduction. You can drive around this, but it's certainly an annoyance, and more demanding drivers won't put up with it.
Still Fun Through Turns
Redline upshifts aren't really necessary on GMR, and here we remember why we like V6-equipped Genesis Coupes. Our 3.8 R-Spec is too big to attack the really tight corners, but to Hyundai's credit, it's a rear-drive car for people who really want a rear-drive car. You can change its attitude with the throttle, and there's enough steering feel to give you confidence in what you're doing.
The steering ratio is quicker for 2013 (13.8:1 vs. 14.9 previously), and the engineers have dialed back the front spring rates slightly on R-Spec and Track models. In combination with the previous rear spring rates, this tweak produces less understeer and better overall balance, according to David Dutko, senior engineer for ride and handling. New front dampers have been specified to improve the ride over smaller impacts.
And while the ride can still be a little busy on Southern California freeways, it's acceptable for a car with 19-inch wheels and 225/40R19 front and 245/40R19 rear Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires and compliant enough for commuting. The brakes on our 2013 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 R-Spec are also carryover hardware. The pedal is still a little soft for our taste on Glendora Mountain, but the car stops predictably.
During instrumented testing, our coupe cut between the slalom cones at 67.4 mph and circled the skid pad at 0.89g. That's not quite as good as the 2011 3.8 R-Spec Coupe we tested, which slalomed at 68.1 mph and managed 0.91g on the skid pad. The V6 Mustang performed similarly — 68.6 mph and 0.90, respectively.
Our 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe stopped from 60 mph in 116 feet, again approaching the 2011 3.8 R-Spec (111 feet) but not as short as the Mustang (103 feet).
Worthwhile Upgrades Inside
Although the entry-level R-Spec is meant to be sort of a car-guy special, a bare-bones starting point for someone wanting to modify a Genesis Coupe for track use, it really doesn't feel stripped down on the inside. The seats have sufficient lateral bolstering for GMR, yet aren't so confining you can't commute in them. We also like the telescoping steering wheel Hyundai has added for 2013, as it makes it much easier to find a good driving position.
We're used to mediocre materials quality in rear-drive coupes under $40K, but Hyundai has made some improvements in this department, too. The plasticky metallic trim that once covered the center stack is gone, and we get a couple more dials for radio tuning and fan speed adjustment.
The dash trim is new and soft and actually has some stitching on it for a more upscale look. More importantly, every place we typically rest our arms (the center console, the door panel cut-outs) has feel-good vinyl trim on it — not something we can say about the other interiors in this class.
One thing that hasn't changed in this midcycle refresh is the rear seat: Due to the angle of the rear glass, it's still ridiculously tight on headroom.
Bargains Don't Last Forever
A $2,000 price increase is no small thing in this price range, but the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec is certainly the best Genesis Coupe to date. It's quick, it sounds wonderful, it handles well, it's comfortable enough to drive every day, and in time we'll get used to the fake hood vents (maybe).
However, there's no denying that we could get into a V6-equipped Mustang or Camaro for less money. Their engines aren't nearly as potent or sweet-sounding, but if you just want a rear-drive coupe with respectable acceleration, they'll fill the bill.
On the flip side, a couple grand more would get us into a much quicker Mustang GT or a more focused 370Z.
You have to want the Genesis Coupe on its own merits this time around — not for its rock-bottom price tag. And while we could easily see ourselves going out one day and buying a 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec, the next day we might wish we'd spent the extra dough on a 5.0 Mustang.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation, which originally appeared on insideline.com.
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