Hyundai Genesis Coupe skews as a sporty GT-style hatchback

2010, Hyundai, Genesis

PAHRUMP, Nev. -- Fenders bulge like muscles to make room for the Bridgestone Potenzas and there's that rippled hood, the raked windshield and a windswept canopy tapering to the wing flying on the tail: This low-slung sports coupe with its sculptured body mounted on big multi-spoke alloy wheels looks like it might streak like lightning to illicit speeds.

And, to settle the performance issue at the outset, it surely can.

It's keen in shape and as slick as glass, with two doors on flanks of a 2+2 cockpit and all kinds of high-tech and sport-tuned hardware aboard to whip us dizzy in some serious pavement performance.

The new sports coupe sets the engine up front with all power directed to big back wheels in classic sporty arrangement with even distribution of the weight on front and rear wheels.

It also looks rather expensive in the mold of exotic gran turismo sports cars.

But, to confirm some comfortable price points, the new vehicle ranks as the anomaly among pricy sportsters.

The premium Grand Touring edition, rigged with a powerful V6 engine and a six-speed manual transmission or a ZF six-speed electronic automatic with Shiftronic shift mode plus leather covering the form-fitting bucket seats and aluminum pedals on the floor, tallies to a figure that doesn't reach $30,000.

The base issue, packing a zippy turbo-charged four-cylinder engine linked to the six-speed manual stick or a five-speed Shiftronic automatic, plus disc brakes with anti-lock brake system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESP), comes home for less than $24,000.

All versions bear the badge of Genesis in a new design for a slickback rear-wheel-drive sports coupe by Hyundai of South Korea.

Hyundai also applies the Genesis nameplate to a luxury sport sedan, and the new sports coupe shares the sedan's rear-wheel-drive platform but with 4.6 inches pared from the wheelbase length.

For Genesis as a sports coupe, the wheelbase measures to 111 inches and the track width of the wheels runs to 63.0/63.6 inches (front/rear).

The coupe employs a MacPherson strut dual-link front suspension mounted on a solid subframe and an advanced five-link design in the rear plus stabilizer bars front and rear.

Standard 18-inch Euroflange aluminum alloy wheels roll with staggered Bridgestone Potenza RE92A tires -- 225/45VR18 in front and 245/45VR18 in the rear.

A factory-tuned Track model gets 19-inch gunmetal-finish alloy wheels with staggered high-performance summer-compound Bridgestone Potenza RE050A rubber -- 225/40YR19 up front and 245/40YR19 in back.

The Track version also has a unique tuned suspension with higher-rate coil springs and higher-control shock absorbers, a front strut brace added and larger front and rear stabilizer bars.

Further, brakes upgrade to a Brembo braking system with 13.4-inch ventilated front rotors and 42-mm four-piston fixed front calipers, and 13.0-inch ventilated rear rotors with 32-mm and 28-mm four-piston rear calipers.

Genesis 2.0T models carry a four-cylinder turbo plant.

Genesis 3.8 models draw from Hyundai's Lambda V6.

For Genesis 2.0T the dual-cam four-cylinder engine displaces 2.0 liters and is fitted with a turbo-charger and air-to-air inter-cooling system, plus Hyundai's continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) equipment.

It nets 210 hp at 6000 rpm and torque of 223 lb-ft at 2000 rpm, and propels the vehicle to a top speed (electronically limited) of 137 mph.

For Genesis 3.8 the twin-cam 3.8-liter V6 also employs CVVT valve controls.

It rips -- pumping 306 hp at 6300 rpm and 266 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm.

Top speed for the top Genesis coupe clicks to 147 mph, and the 0-to-60 acceleration time dips below six seconds.

Federal EPA fuel consumption numbers for the Genesis engines look good -- up to 30 miles per gallon for highway travel with the four-cylinder plant and 26 mpg for the V6.

We log time in the driver's seat of both the 2.0T and 3.8 models on the road to Pahrump that's home to Spring Mountain race track in the Nevada desert.

Genesis 2.0T quickly shows us it can set the pace in fast-lane traffic without undue struggle or engine noise.

Yet Genesis 3.8 fits like a snug leather driving glove and romps with the fire of a serious sports car.

Then we steer each version around a curlicue autocross course at Spring Mountain where orange traffic cones define a route mixing short straight-aways with sharp corners and tricky chicane swerves -- all the ingredients needed to survey the manners of Hyundai's new coupe.

So we play, engine pegging at the redline, gears meshing and those Potenzas protesting from too-tight turns, stomp-pedal accelerations and stand-on braking. But the tail, motivated by the rear drive wheels, follows the lead of the front wheels by etching a precise line to the apex of a curve before settling into the next straight.

This time spent skipping four wheels around a snaky asphalt course reveals that Genesis feels rock-solid tight -- it's quick and entirely responsive.

And -- if you could conceal the brand badge and erase any memory of Hyundai's reputation for low sticker figures -- you'd swear that Genesis is exotic and certainly pricy.

The cockpit, with twin front buckets and two articulated rear seats, seems sporty with standard leather seat bolsters and high-friction cloth inserts.

Hyundai fills Genesis with lots of gear for safety.

Both editions stock passive safety systems like frontal air bags and seat-mounted side-impact air bags up front plus curtain-style air bags above outboard seats on the two rows.

Electronic active head restraints for the front seatbacks are also aboard.

Hyundai produces four versions of Genesis 2.0T -- the 2.0T base edition, 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Track (manual transmission only), and 2.0T R-Spec (a performance model directed at turners).

Three V6 versions include Genesis 3.8, the 3.8 Grand Touring and 3.8 Track.

By Bob Plunkett

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Images of the 2010, Hyundai Genesis

2010 Hyundai Genesis front view
2010 Hyundai Genesis front view
2010 Hyundai Genesis interior
2010 Hyundai Genesis interior
2010 Hyundai Genesis 2.0T 2.0L I4 Turbocharged Engine
2010 Hyundai Genesis 2.0T 2.0L I4 Turbocharged Engine
2010 Hyundai Genesis side shot
2010 Hyundai Genesis side shot