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Oct 172009
 

feature_by_johnchoi2

hyundai_genesis_coupe_leadin

Introduction

When we reviewed the Hyundai Genesis Sedan back in June, we were incredibly impressed with the performance, quality and comfort afforded by the Korean maker’s premium sedan. Heck, the price factor doesn’t even come into play in considering the Sedan as one of the very best offerings from across the Pacific. Needless to say, we were excited to get our hands on the Genesis Coupe, with high expectations based on the experience we had with its 4-door luxury brethren. The Coupe we received for evaluation was the 3.8 Track model, equipped with a 3.8L 24-valve V6 engine and ZF-sourced 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

With keys in hand to the more powerful variant of the Coupe, we set out to find out whether the Hyundai could offer a competitive package against the all-too-natural competitor, the Infiniti G37 Coupe. When all was said and done, we came away wanting more… much more.

First Impressions

hyundai_genesis_coupe_leadin2

The Genesis Coupe is certainly a handsome vehicle. At first glance, you can’t help but to be reminded of the Infiniti G37 coupe – the sloping bodyline that starts from the trunklid to the hood, the sharply raked windshield and rear window and bulging fender wells draw direct comparisons to the Nissan-made sports coupe. But the differences really end there as Eric Stoddard and the rest of the Hyundai Kia America Design Center team put their own touches on this handsome coupe, such as the dip in the rear quarter windows, an aggressive front end fascia that’s far more finished in looks than the G37 and a rear spoiler that looks like it actually belongs there than the afterthought-like whale tail on the G37.

While the exterior of the Coupe is quite well put together, the same can’t be said for the interior. As we discovered, the prevailing theme to describe the driver and passenger environment is cost-cutting:

  •  Inside, all passengers and driver are welcomed by leather-covered seating surfaces; considering the $32,000 price tag, however, the quality of the leather seems to be on the low end lacking any smoothness or silkyness found in higher quality leather

hyunda_genesis_coupe_dash

  • The entire dash is covered in hard plastic with an abrasive texture; rather than applying some sort of padding underneath a vinyl-covered surface, Hyundai seems to have taken the easy (and cheaper) way out
  • Amazingly enough, the same hard plastic material covers the steering wheel, providing an uncomfortable driving interface; considering our tester was dubbed the “Track” model, shouldn’t it have a steering wheel covered in leather?

hyundai_genesis_coupe_shifter

  • The cheap look-and-feel theme continues with the shifter mounted in the center console – it looks cheap, feels cheap and does’t have any weight to it whatsoever
  • As with most other makes that don’t quite get it right, the shifter action for up and downshifts are reversed – rather than forward for downshifts, the Genesis Coupe offers upshifts with this action, literally translating “upshifting”
  • The paddle shifters for the ZF 6-speed transmission are mounted to the steering wheel which prevents shifting off of the apex of a turn unless you have your arms completely crossed and glued to the 3 and 9 o’clock positions
  • Speaking of the paddles, they are made from – again – cheap plastic; Hyundai would have served themselves well by mimicking the magnesium paddles shifters offered by Nissan / Inifiniti in the GT-R and G37 coupe, respectively

hyundai_genesis_coupe_windowswitch

  • What might be deemed as the strangest, most un-ergonomic placement of controls in a car, the side mirror adjustment / door lock / window controls are laid flat against the door on both sides, forcing you to turn the hand in a weird angle to use these controls
  • Most cars have either automatic lights or do away with them altogether in vanity mirrors – in the Genesis Coupe, the light is built into the headliner but you have to flip a switch to turn them on

Driving Impressions

hyundai_genesis_coupe_engine

Fire up the 3.8L V6 and you immediately realize the powerplant means business. With 306bhp and 266ft-lbs of torque on tap, opening up the throttle elicits an aggressive bark out of the twin exhaust out back. Off the line, there’s good acceleration from a standing start, although the Genesis  Coupe doesn’t seem as hurried as the G37. But unlike the Nissan powerplant, there’s none of the noticeable vibration or noise at the upper end of the rev spectrum.

While on the go, you can leave the shifter in “D” mode, or slide it left to sport mode. Utilizing the paddle or the shifter itself, running up the gears is smooth and precise. On the downshift side, however, things go in a bad direction. First off, the transmission DOES NOT rev match when going down the gears. So instead of a smooth transition from, say, 4th to 3rd, the tranny catches the lower gear after some hesitation and you are immediately subject to engine braking. Again, for a car dubbed with the moniker “Track,” it doesn’t seem very track-like. Second, as mentioned before, there’s some hesitation on downshifts. Imagine our surprise when the car was downshifted from 2nd to 1st for a slow turn and the gear was engaged mid-corner. We were thrown against our seatbelts as a result of the engine braking and what should have been a smooth journey through the tight corner turned into a very messy one. Based on this experience, we recommend anyone considering the Track model to consider the standard 6-speed manual instead. The automatic variant just isn’t worth the extra cost nor the disappointing shifting performance.

Braking, courtesy of calipers and rotors by Brembo, was predictably good and solid. There’s nothing to fault here.

In terms of cornering performance, the Genesis Coupe held its ground very well. It was easy to drive the car at its limit, with militd oversteer, and bringing it back into line required just a quick lift of the throttle. The chassis is solid, without any noise or flex that takes away from sheer exhiliration. We did notice, that the suspension could use a bit milder dampening on the compression side. Although cornering on smooth pavement is great, the outside front wheel has a tendency to hop / bounce cornering through a rough patch of tarmac. This effectively decreases the contact patch the 225-width tire has with the ground and a bit of drama ensues. We would definitely like to see more compliance to combat this problem.

Fitted with virtually every electronic safety feature available – stability control, traction control, electronic brake distribution, anti-lock brakes, et al. – you are assured a pretty safe ride inside the Coupe. Traction control was a bit on the intrusive side, as travel over expansion joints and security gate rails immediately kicked in the system and lit up the dashboard. We would like to see this scaled back a bit so that the driver has a bit more control over the drive.

 Conclusion

At $32,000, the V6-equipped Genesis Coupe is a relative bargain considering its great looks, tight chassis, smooth engine and cornering performance. But the the myriad of what are evidently cost-cutting measures really detract from making the vehicle a true value. There are just way too many characteristics that undermine its designation as a “Track” model. We would love to see the moonroof taken away as a feature – considering it adds weight to the highest point in the car, hence raising the center of gravity – and using the cost involved to a better dash and steering wheel treatment, including the shifter paddles. With these and other tweaks, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe would come so much closer to fulfilling its promise as a genuine competitor to the Infiniti G37 coupe. Until such changes happen, however, we feel we’re just going to be left wanting more from the Korean manufacturer.

Sourcebox

Hyundai Motor America
P.O. Box 20850
Fountain Valley, CA 92728-0850
(800) 633-5151
consumeraffairs@hmausa.com

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