As the year of 2009 nears its end, there are a number of cars to look forward to next year. The cars below are some of the cars that are likely to excite both automotive consumers and those who are in the automotive industry. Which new cars in 2010 are you waiting to hear about?
Sports Coupe: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe
The Cadillac CTS Coupe was officially unveiled on November 23rd, 2009. In 2008, the Cadillac CTS was supposed to be the model to uplift the Cadillac brand. It looks like Cadillac is on the ball again, launching their next two-door vehicle since 2002. The only parts that the CTS coupe shares with the sedan are the instrument panel, console, headlamps, front fenders and grill. Another thing that makes this generation’s CTS apart from others is the optional between RWD and AWD. This will definitely be a Cadillac to check out.
Hybrid/Electric Car: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
With the current mid-sized hybrid sedan market ruled by Toyota and Honda, it is always refreshing to see how other manufacturers answer back. So what you ask did Hyundai do, to take their Sonata one step further? Current hybrids use nickel metal hydride batteries, where as the Sonata will use lithium polymer batteries. Hyundai states that the lithium batteries weigh 30% less, have a 50% less volume, and are 10% more efficient. It will be interesting to see how this new battery, from LG Chem, will hold up against nickel batteries.
Compact Car: 2011 Mazda 2
In 2008, the Mazda 2 was awarded World Car of the Year. Why do most of us not know/remember this? Well, apparently, World Car of the Year, was not good enough for sale in the U.S., mostly because Mazda thought that such a small car would not offer much profitability. Well, with the boom in sales from Nissan’s Versa, and Honda’s Fit (and also partially due to the economy and rising gas prices), Mazda was definitely pounding their foreheads on that decision. It makes one wonder, is Mazda 2 late?
Exotic Car: 2011 McLaren MP4-12C
When McLaren teamed up with Mercedes to build supercars, they awed us all with the McLaren F1 and the SLR. That was the past, and the future will be without Mercedes-Benz. McLaren is now their own automotive division. So what does the McLaren MP4-12C offer that the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 doesn’t? The entire frame is one piece, which makes it lighter and more rigid. We can’t wait to see how the McLaren will compete against Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Luxury Car: 2011 Hyundai Equus
Hyundai did great things with the Genesis sedan, which went after the Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class. We are hopeful to once again be surprised by Hyundai’s quality, that will excel the Equus above the Lexus LS, Mercedes S-Class, and the rest of its competitors. Hyundai may have to bring back that commercial of different “manufacturer executives” yelling the name Hyundai.
SUV: 2011 Land Rover LRX
With India’s Tata Motors recently purchasing Land Rover and Jaguar, it will be interesting to see Tata’s future plans for these automotive brands. Apparently, the 2011 Land Rover LRX will be Land Rover’s first more fuel efficient Land Rover.
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.
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
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?
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
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
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.
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.
Those old enough will recall that famous advertising tagline from the 70s and 80s. Drawing upon a reference to women’s “freedom, emancipation and empowerment,” it was a powerful marketing message that was hugely successful for its intended purposes.
Fast forward to 2009. As we were set to review the milestone Genesis Sedan from Hyundai – in the 4.6L V8 guise – we couldn’t help but to feel as if this vehicle marked the Korean make’s freedom, emancipation and empowerment from its status as “just another Asian car maker.” With styling, performance, build quality and features that rival premium Japanese and European makes, we believe this marks a significant milestone in Hyundai’s pursuit of becoming not only a value leader but an aspirational mark as well.
Once the keys were handed over to us, we took a long, hard look at this rather handsome sedan. To put it simply, it’s a good looking car. Sure, there are certain shapes and bodylines that may remind us of other luxury sedans, but we don’t believe that is necessarily a bad thing. Body gaps between the hood, fenders, doors and trunk were even and consistent, signifying excellent exterior build quality. The standard 18″ wheels on our tester certainly added to the premium feel as well, although we think a plus one set up with wider tires would have been a better call (more on this later). Rounding out the long list of premium features, the Genesis offered up a set of self-leveling and adaptive HID headlights, rear backup camera and rain-sensing wipers.
Once inside, the first reaction we had was, “This is a Hyundai?” Indeed, it was nothing like we had encountered in a vehicle with Hyundai badging.
Seating was comfortable and supportive, with high quality leather surfaces; we wished there was some additional side bolstering in the front seats, however
The driver’s seat featured both heating AND cooling, which was a pleasant feature to have on the long, hot drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco
Although we aren’t particularly crazy about centralized audio / HVAC / “multimedia” vehicle controls in general, the Genesis’ BMW iDrive-like interface was relatively easy to use from the get-go, sans the manual; secondary control buttons were arranged in a logical manner, audio sources on the left, navigation and phone buttons on the right (a user is more apt to change audio sources than play with navigation settings)
The navigation system screen was by far the sharpest we’ve ever seen – whereas we expect some pixelation and jagged edges on most systems, the Genesis’ screen was comparable to that of a high resolution computer screen
The integrated XM NavTraffic system (along with XM satellite radio) provided an additional dimension to navigating traffic-riddled roads in Los Angeles and San Francisco
The Lexicon audio system was incredible – with clean output at all frequency levels, the Genesis’ audio delivery rivaled purpose-built SQ (sound quality) systems you would normally find at sound competitions
Cabin noise levels were extremely low, as one would expect from a premium sedan, and certainly helped created a solid audio environment for the above mentioned Lexicon system
The genuine wood trim on the steering wheel was a classy touch, although we weren’t big fans of the wood-grained plastic that adorned the dash and center console
The trunk is cavernous, with more than enough room for several golf bags or a full weekend’s collection of duds, and a low lift-over which should make loading the trunk relatively easy
The centerpiece of our tester was the stout V8 under the hood. Considering it’s the largest & most powerful engine we’ve seen from Hyundai, we were certainly interested in unearthing whether they got it right. Firing up the 4.6L V8, utilizing the keyless ignition system, elicited a smooth start and idle. Shifting into the 6-speed ZF transmission, the same found in the BMW 5-series, puts 375hp and 333lb-ft of torque on tap. Shifts under auto mode were crisp and quick, and held gear properly without upshifting prematurely under full WOT.
The manual mode was effective as well, with very little hesitation between gear shifts. Automatic slushboxes of old were terrible at emulating a manual, but the ZF transmission was a great example of accomodating the driver’s need for more control. Even under full load, nearing the engine’s rev limit, the engine and transmission exhibited no harshness, noise or vibration. With that being said, we had the same complaint about the shifting pattern as we do with other cars. Upshifts are executed by pushing forward, while downshifts are executed by pulling downward. This is exactly the opposite of what the shifting action should be and would love to see manufacturers revise their designs to correct this.
With all that power on tap, impromptu drag races at freeway on-ramps ushered rapid acceleration to 60, 70mph. Acceleration performance really belies the 4,000lbs curb weight of the vehicle, pushing you back into the seat more like a mid-sized sedan with ample power. And passing acceleration, whether getting around that cumbersome tractor trailer or whizzing by slow moving traffic, was quick and uneventful. We quickly became big fans of the silky Hyundai Tau V8 engine.
The ride quality was smooth and comfortable. Over downtown LA’s pothole-riddled roads and over the rough slow lane on the 5 freeway, the Genesis held its composure well. Once on some twisty roads, however, things became a little less refined. We took the Genesis to task on the undulating roads of the Angeles Crest National Forest and found some excessive body roll and lack of cornering traction from the 235-series tires. Perhaps we’re too accustomed to full coilover setups, but we would definitely put some stiffer rate springs, more aggressive damping and thicker roll bars on our wish list. Although it may hike up the vehicle’s price a bit, but something akin to BMW’s or Audi’s dynamic suspension system would be a great solution. And as alluded to earlier, some wider, meatier rubber (255’s, perhaps?) would greatly help the Genesis’ lateral stability as well.
Honestly, it’s hard to compare the Genesis Sedan to other premium vehicles. If you compare the Genesis to higher-end premium vehicles, such as the BMW 5-series, Lexus GS and LS models, Audi A6 and the like, it offers similar levels of refinement, features and performance for a lot less money. If you compare the Genesis on a pricepoint basis, it’s a complete blow-out as entry-level luxury vehicles, such as the Lexus ES, Infiniti G-series, and Acura TL, can’t deliver the same virtues that make the Genesis a joy to own and drive.
We’re a bit lost as to where we can place the Genesis Sedan in the grand scheme of things. It’s inappropriate to make a direct comparison to either the higher-end or entry-level luxury market. At the end of the day, the only logical conclusion we can come to is, “It’s a hell of a car for a hell of a price.” How often can you say that about any vehicle on the market today?
Hyundai, loosely translated from its intended meaning in Korean, means “Now.” We couldn’t agree more. Hyundai has NOW brought forth a platform that has become a legitimate contender in a market segment that is completely new to the make. At $41,000, as our tester was equipped, it delivers all the features the premium sedan buyer is looking for and more. We can only look forward to bigger and better products from Hyundai as its cements its position as a global player in all price segments.