Hyundai has been expanding its vision over the last few years to where today, it offers something for practically everybody. In the same way that Toyota gave us the upscale Lexus and Nissan the Infiniti brand, Hyundai is now offering upscale cars. They are using the same brand name, too-a brave proposition-but at least the Genesis is the genuine article.
How many prospects will seriously cross-shop a Hyundai Genesis Coupe with an Infiniti G37? More people probably should, because the numbers add up and the car is worth looking at. Comparing the two, the Genesis, virtually identical in length, is about 250 pounds lighter, so its 306 horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 engine provides excellent performance versus the G37’s 330 horsepower mill. In fact, it’s an exhilarating 5.5-second blast from zero to 60 mph.
The Genesis Coupe compares favorably with the all-American Mustang, Camaro and Challenger, too. It’s a little leaner and sharper. There is a fresh spirit to two-door coupes today, and the Genesis, as its name indicates, is the beginning of something new from a Korean automaker.
As with all new Hyundais, the Genesis Coupe is very interesting to look at. After years of delivering competent, copy-cat models, the brand has gone its own way. The styling theme stands out, and the cars are obviously related. The vigorously sculpted side styling of the Coupe, along with its surprising side window drop, is eye-catching and dramatic.
Inside, it’s the same, with a surging flow up the center console, onto the dash and into the doors. Interior fittings are nicely rendered in matte finishes with chrome accents. A classic leather-wrapped shift knob and bag convey the feeling of a classic Jaguar. The folks at Hyundai have not only studied their competition, they’ve read through the history books as well.
It’s a rare treat to have a car with 300 horsepower and a manual transmission, so it was a happy week for me, despite some rainy driving conditions. It did take a couple of days to get a feel for the clutch, though, and I had a couple of incidents of backing up from a light because I had overshot first gear and was in reverse! No harm done, but I was extra careful after that. I stalled it a couple of times, too. But the shifter and clutch were rewarding once I became familiar with them. You can also opt for an automatic, and many people surely will.
The V6 delivers plenty of power for any driving you may do-and more. A Torque and Instant Miles-per-Gallon gauge in the center of the dash panel feeds back information on your driving behavior while the trip computer tells you your fuel consumption.
I discovered that the mileage calculation reset every day, so I approximate that I got about 23 miles per gallon overall. That’s good for a strong V6 engine pulling a 3,389-pound car. The EPA numbers are 17 City, 26 Highway. The Green Vehicle scores are, as you’d expect, in midpack, with a 6 for Air Pollution and a 4 for Greenhouse Gas. There are plenty of Hyundais available with better numbers if that’s an area of primary concern for you.
With the Genesis Coupe’s vigorous personality, I found myself racing up freeway approaches and was sure to take back roads when I could. The overall feeling reminded me of a Nissan 370Z I had driven not long before-and of its sibling, the aforementioned Infiniti G37. The Camaro and Mustang have similar power, but their packaging feels bulkier, while the Hyundai conveys a more precise interaction.
If you want an even lighter Genesis Coupe, you can opt for one of the three 2.0 T models, with a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 210 horsepower. That model, besides costing less, delivers about 20 percent better fuel economy as well, at 21 City, 30 Highway per the EPA.
The three 3.8 models-R-Spec, Grand Touring, and Track-offer significantly more power than the 2.0T, and are more sport-oriented, luxury oriented, or both, respectively. My tester, an Acqua Minerale Blue Track model, was equipped full boat, with a long list of standard features. Amazingly, it had only floor mats and an iPod cable on the option list, and came to $31,690, including shipping. The basic 2.0T model starts at just $23,050.
The car’s full-service audio system delivered wonderful sound, but it took several minutes to load all the songs on my iPod-a minor annoyance. Also, it didn’t retain the shuffle setting, so I had to re-enter that each time. But other than that, I was intrigued and entranced by this new player in the sport coupe segment.