– Exotic exterior styling
– Practical cabin features
– Ride and handling
– Manual-mode gear response
– Awkward rear accommodations
– Some hard cabin plastics
For whatever reason, we had completely forgotten about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe as a legitimate sports-car contender, what will all the hype over rivals from Japan. Introduced a few years ago, it has already undergone a facelift, and when we were offered the chance to drive the 2013 edition, we accepted the offer without much expectations. But boy were we surprised.
The Genesis Coupe is quite a looker. It is probably the closest thing you can get to Maserati style in this price range. We even dig that controversial downward kink on the rear-side windows. The new face is also attractive in person, although we wish those bonnet “vents” were real openings. But topped off with 19-inch alloys and stylised exhaust tips, this car looks like a trillion dollars.
Inside, the interior shows no signs of major cost-cutting, unlike the cheap plasticky tub in the Chevy Camaro. The redesigned dash has a stitched soft-touch top that extends to the sides of the centre-console and upper door sills, while the headliner cloth extends down the front A-pillars. Padded leatherette door inserts and armrests add to the cushiness. Only the bottom half of the dash and other below-the-waist areas are scratchy hard plastics, but the cabin materials almost rival that of the much-pricier Nissan 370Z. Aside from one small slightly-misaligned panel covering the USB/AUX ports, everything else was put together perfectly.
The leather-upholstered sports seats are thickly bolstered, and space up front is excellent, with none of that bath-tub feeling which afflicts other sports cars. The back seats can actually fit average-sized adults, astoundingly enough, but it’s tight and your scalp will be a few millimetres from the rear glass, baking in the sun. Even more surprising is how long the boot floor is, constrained only by a small opening. Very spacious, but it should’ve had a liftback lid instead.
Our top-spec Genesis Coupe came with a great CD/MP3 stereo, USB/AUX ports, working Bluetooth, and a very good single-zone auto a/c with some sort of built-in ioniser. Further features included a sunroof, HID headlights with fogs and LEDs, front-side airbags, keyless start and a partially-powered driver’s seat alongside the usual power accessories. Two uncovered cup-holders, an armrest cubby and door pockets make the cabin practical. There were even three vestigial gauges under the stereo, showing the percentage of acceleration, the torque level and the oil temperature. Go figure.
The meat of the matter is in the 3.8-litre “MPI” V6, carried over from the previous version, and tuned to grunt just like a Porsche sixer. Capable of sending 306 hp at 6300 rpm and 361 Nm of torque at 4700 rpm to the rear wheels, the motor is now mated to a new paddle-shiftable 8-speed automatic. The engine offers beautiful low-end kick with that roar, and decent power always, but our timed 0-100 kph test gave us a time of 7.3 seconds. The Coupe is heavy, at 1610 kg, but we’d put down the unimpressive time to the fresh engine that hadn’t cracked even 1000 km yet, compounded by the hot July weather. It’ll probably be quicker once broken in. We also got 14.5 litres/100 km of overall fuel consumption thanks to our pounding, but on regular driving around the city, it was returning as low as 11.5 litres/100 km.
It rides rather comfortably for a sports car. It feels as compliant as a firm Porsche 911 on the highway, but without the use of gimmicky adaptive suspension setups. Wind and road noises reach moderate levels beyond 100 kph, and the engine isn’t entirely quiet, but it is still a more comfortable daily driver than a Ford Mustang GT. Reverse-parking isn’t too tough either, thanks to rear sensors.
It behaves like a proper sports car on the bends, with solid grip from the Bridgestone Potenzas, 225/40 up front and 245/40 in the rear. Body roll is very limited, but it is still somewhat there, especially on tighter manoeuvres, likely a consequence of keeping the ride so comfortable. It even becomes easier to swing the car into little drifts, helped by that juicy torque, so it is tremendously fun with ESP off. The steering isn’t as sharp or communicative as more hardcore sports cars, but it offers just enough to make it easy to catch those drifts. So while it doesn’t corner as flat or as sharply as a Honda S2000, the benefits are far more palatable. We’ve yet to figure out how to safely drift the Honda S2000.
But while we are fine with the steering and love the Brembo brakes, we weren’t too impressed by the automatic gearbox. It does fine if left on its own about town, but in spirited driving, switching to manual mode using the paddles only results in delayed responses and automatic upshifts at redline. Better manual control would be preferred, or indeed, a proper manual gearbox for the GCC-spec model.
And yet, we still love this car. Who would’ve thunk that Hyundai could create such an involving grand tourer. It looks like a Maserati, sounds like a Porsche, rides like a BMW, and drifts like a Mustang, all for the price of a Toyota 86. It has its niggling quirks, but hell, they aren’t that big of a deal beyond the racetrack, and this car is easily going on our recommended list.
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