– Very stylish
– Good interior quality
– Good handling
– Not fast enough
– Fuel economy not very good
– Uncomfortable ride
The two-door Hyundai Coupe is probably the most exciting car to even come out of Korea. This second-generation Coupe was all new for the 2002 model year and has been slightly updated for 2005.
The exterior front end features a new grille and lower fascia, new headlamp and foglamp design. The side vents has been changed from the original shark-style gill design to a horizontal slot style. The side mirrors have been redesigned to supposedly improve aerodynamics and provide better vision for the driver. There is also a slightly new taillight treatment. The sleek sporty shape with low roofline remains unchanged.
The basic model Coupe comes with Hyundai’s high-tech 2.0L, 16-valve DOHC, four-cylinder engine. For 2005, Continuously Variable Valve Timing, or CVVT has been added for better control of engine emissions. The CVVT unit controls the intake valve timing by advancing or retarding the intake camshaft in relation to the exhaust camshaft, delivering improved performance at high RPM and increased torque at low RPM through increased volumetric and thermodynamic efficiencies. The engine is rated at 141 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and delivers 181 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. It is adequate to move the Coupe at reasonable speeds, but totally inadequate for a sports car, as even the Corolla offers similar performance. It is also not as smooth as Toyota’s four-cylinder engines, but good enough for most purposes.
The higher Coupe model is fitted with Hyundai’s all-aluminum 2.7L V6 engine. The DOHC V6 engine is rated at 167 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 245 Nm of torque at 3,800 rpm. This growling engine offers good power and feels less overstretched than the four-cylinder when driving on the highway. It is the ideal choice for the occassional racer, although it still falls short of true sports car performance. For comparison, a V6-powered Accord or Altima family sedan can easily beat it in a straight line. Fuel economy is also worse than the bigger Honda 3.0L V6.
The basic Coupe is fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the V6 model gets a 6-speed manual. A 4-speed automatic with Hyundai’s Shiftronic manumatic control is also available on both models. The manual shifters are not as smooth to shift as a Honda unit, but still easy to use, although the 6-speed takes time to get used to an extra gear. The automatic is disappointing, as it is only a 4-speed unit, but the Shiftronic system allow some manual control.
The Coupe features independent suspension both front and rear. In front, MacPherson struts are used with offset coil springs, gas-filled hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar. At the rear the Coupe is fitted with a strut-type multi-link rear suspension, gas-filled hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar.
The cornering abilities of the Coupe are second to none in this price range, with good grip from the wide tyres while turning hard around tight corners. The Coupe chassis feels stiff as there are no harsh vibrations or rattles when going over bumps. Hydraulic engine mounts help isolate engine vibration from the cabin. But what you gain in handling you lost in ride comfort. While this sporty car delivers a somewhat stiff ride that helps cornering, the ride quality is a little choppy on some seriously cracked streets. Many dull folks will find the car too bumpy for their tastes. The large rims and low-profile tyres don’t help comfort but enhance handling.
Braking performance is very good, with the car stopping from 100 kph in about the same distance as the hyped Civic Type-R.
The front seats are low and fairly tight as expected in a sporty car, with good side support. They are fully adjustable and comfortable. Head and legroom is good at the front, but not so good at the back, with tall people’s heads touching the rear glass. The dash is fine, with an instrument panel features large analog gauges with the speedometer and tachometer placed directly in front of the driver. Trunk luggage space is good for a sports car, being more spacious than any Ferrari. The Coupe also comes with power windows and mirror buttons on the driver’s door. Material quality has considerably improved over older Hyundai economy cars.
The Coupe sound system is an AM/FM/CD stereo system with six speakers. Sound quality is pretty good for a standard stereo.
The Coupe carries a full complement of safety features, with a strong unibody construction, integrated crumple zones, high-strength steel side impact beams and two front airbags as standard.
All in all, the four-cylinder Coupe is a good value in the coupe market as there are pretty much no competitors in the Middle East. The V6 model is a little overpriced for the amount of power offered by this otherwise high-value Korean car, but it is still the only sporty, quick and attractive coupe you can get in this region for the price.