In the Competition
Jim Powell, Mon, 11 Jul 2011 01:50:51 PDT
After driving the 2011 Infiniti G37, Ford Mustang V6, and Camaro LS, I found the Hyundai Genesis Coupe in the middle of the competition. After some seat time in the 3.8-liter Track version, I would give the Genesis Coupe a slightly higher hand vote in category of pure performance. This speaks volumes to the progress Hyundai has made in just a few short years. After a first look at the substance and styling of the prototype Genesis Coupe in November of 2009, I doubted their PR representative's claim that this was going to compete with muscle car magnets like Mustang and Camaro. However, Hyundai was serious and now has the car to prove it.
The first thing to notice in the 2011-12 models is the new soft-touch materials which makes the inside of the car a nicer place to be. The instrument panel has been lowered and the door and dash surfaces have been revised with finishes that lower the reflective glare making them easier on the eyes.
Details like padded door armrests, softer leather, and finished pillars exemplify Hyundai's drive towards luxury. The Grand Touring 3.8 Coupe is loaded with luxury features, quiet, and very comfortable for even the largest people.
For 2011, the Genesis got a new sports model called the 3.8 R-Spec. My test Genesis Coupe Track is a mid-year tweak on the R-Spec Coupe in order to get some more customers to look at the Genesis Coupe. All of these Hyundai 3.8 Coupes come with the same engine but exhaust modifications, body kits, and revised suspension geometries are typical ways to create interest in the brand. The model lineup now includes: Genesis Coupe 2.0T (turbo), 2.0T Premium, 2.0T R-Spec, 3.8 R-Spec, 3.8 Grand Touring, and 3.8 Track.
Most noticeable about the 'Track' is the very firm ride. It comes with very firm sports springs and dampers that are suited for a track drive. With Hyundai's excellent chassis rigidity already designed into the Genesis Coupe, this suspension setup might be a little overkill. When they bolted on a set of 19 inch wheels and summer high-performance Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires (225/40YR19 front, 245/40YR19 rear), the ride noise also went up considerably. For my taste and for the number days anyone will actually spend on the track, the standard Coupe or even the R-Spec is sporty enough without punishing the passengers with jostling road ruts and tire howl.
Toyota has received complaints over "unexpected acceleration" during the past two years, even though governmental agencies have found no fault with Toyota to date, they have made some changes to the engine control management computer and software and accelerator pedals. This has produced a very noticeable engine braking when the foot is let off from the gas pedal just slightly. It is the same sensation one gets when regenerative braking is used on a hybrid car. For the all-gas Corolla, this prevents the car from coasting and means that power is either on or off. One of my drivers commented this was annoying enough to keep him looking for another car to purchase. At minimum, Toyota could lighten up on the accelerator pedal spring a touch.
Now the Brembo four-piston calipers and 13.4-inch ventilated front brake rotors and 13-inch ventilated rear rotors are a welcome upgrade. This Coupe can scoot from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 5.5 seconds, with a V6 engine! But the ability to stop a "muscle car" quickly and perfectly straight is almost as much fun. The electric steering system is still a unique feeling but the Coupe is quick to turn and responsive in the corners. Most will want more power steering boost in parking lots but even my wife was not bothered by the effort needed.
The Genesis Coupe Track is very livable in suburbia with a size that easily fits in modern market parking spots. There is plenty of room under the hatch for luggage, groceries, and golf clubs. The rear seat is fairly comfortable for two more friends or family members and access is not back-braking. This cannot be said for the Ford or Chevy versions of the modern muscle car.
The 2012 Genesis Coupe retains either the 210-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or the 306-horsepower DOHC 3.8-liter V6 engine. A 5.0 liter V8 will come to the Coupe lineup later this year but the 3.8 is still a great choice for the money.
The V6 engine is made up of an alloy block and cylinder heads for less weight. Also the 3.8-liter engine utilizes Hyundai's variable valve system called DCVVT and a new Variable Intake System (VIS) that helps more air enter the cylinders at the right time. This means better off-the-line acceleration, passing performance and good fuel efficiency.
My 3.8 liter had power to spare and the torque felt in the first and second of six gears in the automatic transmission adds to the quick take-off. The manual transmission would be more entertaining in the Track model and for true enthusiasts but the auto was pretty quick-shifting in the manual override.
The rear-wheel drive traction is helped by a host of standard traction controls that don't let the tires chirp, ever. These can be turned off if the driver gets interested in burning some rubber.
The 2012 Genesis Coupe comes standard with auxiliary input jacks and a nice sound system. The optional in-dash navigation unit includes Bluetooth streaming audio and 6.5-inch WVGA touch-screen with voice-recognition. The other standard features are too long to list here but you can have a lot of car for around $27k.
My fully loaded Genesis Coupe Track came to $33,106. The Track edition comes with black leather seats, track shock absorbers, 25mm front stabilizer bar, 22mm rear stabilizer bar, front strut brace, torsen limited-slip differential, aluminum pedals, Xenon HID headlamps, special wipers and a rear spoiler. My 2011.5 Genesis Track is rated at 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway (26 mpg with the manual). I was able to get 23.1 mpg on average which makes this performance car an even better value.
So buyers can have the 3.8 liter Hyundai Genesis in three levels of ride performance; from sporty and comfortable to sporty and track-ready. The Coupe is a very strong driver and can live everyday on most American roads.
All of these models may not be necessary for a coupe that already handles highways and corners well but the public is invited to make that vote with their money.