Burly V6 power, athletic handling, comfortable and supportive front seats, sporty cabin design.
Lackluster manual transmission, unpredictable power cut after redline upshifts on our early-production test car, mediocre stereo.
In the beginning, Hyundai created the Excel, and consumers quickly saw that it was not good. As first impressions go, the Korean automaker couldn't have done much worse. But that was then, and this is now. Thanks to more than a decade of hard work aimed at improving its image, Hyundai has become a respected purveyor of high-quality vehicles. Not content to rest on its laurels, the company has recently added two great lights to its portfolio: the plush Genesis sedan to rule the highway, and our test car, the stunningly capable 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track, to rule the streets.
While the Genesis Coupe 3.8 shares its basic platform and engine design with the similarly named Genesis sedan, it's a wholly different beast. Indeed, the coupe is much closer in character to the car that Hyundai says it benchmarked during development, the Infiniti G37 coupe. From its distinctive baritone exhaust note and seriously sporting chassis to its cosseting cabin, the Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track is the G37 S Sport's doppelganger, except it's more than $7,000 cheaper and comes better-equipped. It looks sharp, too — the profile is a dead ringer for the G37's, which isn't a bad thing, and distinctive elements like complex side-panel stamping and rounded rear-quarter windows add a welcome dash of Korean flavor.
In testing the top-shelf 3.8 Track model (the coupe also comes in lesser 2.0T and 3.8 trim levels), we found that the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe has a ways to go before it can claim dominion over every sport coupe that rolleth upon the earth. The manual transmission's shifter doesn't feel as robust and precise as it should, for example, and our early-production test car's 306-horsepower V6 was hampered by an overzealous driveline-protection program that retarded torque during aggressive driving. For the price, though, the Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track offers an astounding array of virtues. Hyundai has created a genuine performance car, and behold, it is very good.
The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 306 hp and 266 pound-feet of torque. Notably, this engine doesn't require more than regular 87-octane fuel. Our test car was equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission, which received a lukewarm reception — the shifter lacks the positive engagement we prefer, and the finicky clutch renders the car lurch-prone during quick upshifts. At the test track, our best 0-60-mph run took 6.4 seconds, lagging behind Hyundai's claimed time by more than half a second. The Track-specific Brembo brakes halted our coupe from 60 mph in an impressive 111 feet despite lacking the initial bite we expect from Brembo.
On the road, the big V6 delivers confident acceleration, with more low-end kick than the G37's 3.7-liter V6 and a pleasantly throaty soundtrack. When we pushed the Hyundai to the limit, though, we discovered why this 306-hp coupe failed to notch the anticipated sub-6-second sprint from zero to 60. The intrusive torque-management software on our test car sporadically cut power for a couple seconds after a rapid redline upshift, leaving us in limp-home mode when we least expected it. Fortunately, Hyundai has since reflashed the software, and we've verified that the new calibration eliminates the power-cut issue and reduces the 3.8 Track's 0-60 time to 5.9 seconds.
Handling-wise, the Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track is a superb execution of the performance coupe concept. The standard 19-inch wheels with high-performance summer tires provide tenacious grip in tight corners and helped the 3.8 Track pull an impressive 0.88g on our skid pad. Body roll is minimal, and the steering is praiseworthy as well — sharp and responsive, it's nothing like the vague and imprecise setups that plague other Hyundai models. Our test car's slalom speed of 68.2 mph was laudably quick, beating out the Ford Mustang GT and only marginally trailing the Nissan 370Z.
Fuel economy typically isn't a top priority for shoppers in this segment, but at 17 mpg city/26 highway, the Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track makes a respectable showing. We recorded 17.9 mpg over approximately 1,100 miles.
The Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track's front seats are what the G37 S Sport's should be, boasting excellent lateral support, manually adjustable lumbar support to reduce back fatigue, and extensive tilt options. Even the headrests are soft and accommodating — the 3.8 Track is that rare car in which "headrest" is not a misnomer. The driving position is low-slung and sporty, with an enveloping cabin design, yet the view forward over the curvaceous hood is superlative. Rear visibility's not so hot, though, due to the Genesis Coupe's high beltline and wedge-shaped body.
Impact harshness is impressively subdued over rough pavement despite the 3.8 Track's sport-tuned suspension; the ride/handling balance isn't quite at the level of the BMW 3 Series, but it's easily on par with the G37 and BMW 128i. The door armrests lack padding, however, and road noise is a constant companion. The absence of a telescoping steering column is another oversight; this usually means that longer-legged drivers are out of luck, but in this case, taller drivers found the wheel ideally situated, while shorter ones complained that they couldn't get the wheel out of their chests. The rear seat bumps up the coupe's versatility index relative to two-seat rivals like the Nissan 370Z, but access is awkward, and the encroaching rear glass means it's strictly for cargo, kids or headless adults.
The Genesis Coupe's climate controls lack user-friendly knobs for fan speed and direction, but they're not overly complicated, and the rakish angle of the center stack puts all controls within easy reach. However, the button-happy stereo controls require too much driver attention. We deemed the uplevel Infinity stereo's sound quality mediocre, and our test car was beset by buzzing and rattling from various interior trim panels when the bass kicked in. On the bright side, we liked that our manual-transmission-equipped Genesis Coupe sounded a warning beep whenever reverse was selected, ensuring that we didn't confuse reverse with the adjacent 1st gear.
Our real-world functionality tests revealed the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe to be a surprisingly useful two-door. Our standard golf bag fit easily in the deceptively spacious 10-cubic-foot trunk, as did our roll-away suitcase. Notably, the oddly shaped trunk opening may require some creative maneuvering for larger cargo. We did manage to install a rear-facing child safety seat in the coupe's cramped rear quarters, but we wouldn't want to do it on a regular basis.
Design/Fit and Finish
The Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track's exterior styling was a hit with most of our staffers — it's clearly inspired by the G37, but Hyundai has added enough original touches to make it fresh. The hefty doors go "thunk" with the best of them, imparting a sense of quality construction that even the more expensive Genesis sedan can't match. Inside, the attractive dashboard joins with the door panels in an uninterrupted swoop, resulting in unconventional yet functional side-mounted placements for the window and mirror switches. Interior materials are satisfactory, with a soft-touch upper dash and no obvious cost-cutting; however, the silver-painted plastic on the center stack strikes us as a touch passé. Our early-production car generated some intermittent squeaks and rattles over broken pavement.
Who should consider this vehicle
Driving enthusiasts on a budget who want a refined and genuinely capable performance coupe.