“That is how I drive. Flat Out.” So says the infamous, Miata-blocking Koenigsegg/GT2 driver in the trackday community’s Most Favorite Video Ever. As a journeyman instructor and track rat, I encounter fellows like this all the time — but just as often, I see reasonably talented drivers in small-caliber hardware who take a perverse pleasure in holding up equally talented students in Corvettes and the like. When I discuss their behavior with them, they will always say, with a sort of wounded, defensive pride,
“It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast, than it is to drive a fast car slowly.” My response is always the same:
“Yes, but it’s the most fun to drive a fast car quickly, so next time, I need you to point us by before the Climbing Esses.”
The Genesis 2.0t R-Spec has the most power, the lowest lap times, and the most ridiculous name in our little group. It’s the fast car of the group, and it’s fun to drive fast, too. Why’d it finish second?
Before we get to the part of the review where I natter on about how the Genesis “rushes to the apex like the furious Golem of legend with its arse on fire” and “stamps every exit with the authority of close to three hundred fire-breathing turbocharged Korean Eohippuses” or something like that, we’re going to take a moment to let some of the people in the classroom go home early. If you are in the market for a car of this type, and you have no interest in driving your personal car in a fashion which is both time-consuming to learn and reasonably risky to undertake, and you don’t care to put the top down on fall evenings, you can close the browser window now, turn your computer off, go to your local Hyundai dealer, and arrange financing for your new Genesis.
Let me tell you some nice things about the Genesis. They are all true, and perhaps it will keep the Genesis-forum guys from joining the mass of underemployed FR-S wanna-bes who are currently camped out on my front lawn and threatening to burn my house down. (To those people, I have only one thing to say: playing the solo from “Mr. Brownstone” is tougher than it sounds, so I’m going to go ahead and practice it fifty more times with the volume cranked, and sometimes I’m going to just stop the song in the middle and go back for another try.)
The Genesis looks great on the inside, even in two-liter trim, and on the outside it is, ah, distinctive. Here at TTAC, we are of the opinion that the facelift helped matters in that regard. The original nose was tres generic. This one’s like the LS1 Trans Am compared to the LT1 model: not nearly as graceful, but it clears the lane like Charles Barkley. It’s also recognizably a Hyundai, and that’s starting to be important for everyone involved, both the company itself in its efforts to build the Hyundai brand and for the growing community of young people who are proud to be seen driving one. Like it or loathe it, once you’re inside there are no excuses necessary. It feels special in the way that owners want their first “nice” car to feel special.
Although Hyundai no longer plays the value-for-money card with completely committed fervor, the Genesis is still aggressively priced. It costs more than the pre-facelift model, but you get more for your money, particularly in the engine room. On the spec sheet and standard equipment list alone, the Genesis would handily win this comparison. It also beats the infamous V-6 Mustang as an over-the-road proposition, being noticeably more pleasant to drive around town and considerably easier to park.
In a straight line and around an off-ramp, the Genesis is rapid, impressive, and stable. If the FR-S has a bit of the normally-aspirated 300ZX to it — willfully slow and incapable of pushing its chassis — the Genesis happily plays Fox Mustang by contrast. The engine is the point here. We’ve all read complaints about turbo lag. That’s what happens when you twist 274 horsepower out of two liters. You can’t conquer the laws of physics. The specific output of the GenCoupe beats most variants of the GT-R and 911 Turbo, and those hallowed steeds have a turbo for each side of the block. In any event, the turbo lag isn’t bad. It isn’t a Switzer GT2 or something like that. It’s a perfectly reasonable car with a 100,000-mile warranty that just happens to make a lot of power.
Unnnnn-fortunately, it also weighs a lot. At 3,300 pounds, it’s a chunky monkey. For that reason, although I’m virtually certain the Hyundai puts more power to the ground and has a much fatter torque curve than, say, my 1995 Porsche 993, when it’s time to hustle the old Superbeetle kicks its ass up through its massive grin. We can let a few more readers out of the classroom now, too: the simple answer to “Why didn’t the Genesis win your stupid test?” is the simple word:
Around Toronto Motorsports Park’s perfectly flat, perfectly unremarkable, lunar landscape of a road course, the Genesis is a car of much bigger inputs than those required by the FR-S. Down the front straight — bam! The engine picks up and rushes to the apex like the furious Golem of legend with its arse on fire. Once you get there, the standard Brembos are massively useful to have. Any fade is almost certainly due to the standard-equipment pads. Pad swaps are much easier than caliper swaps, and much cheaper. Don’t skip out on the R-Spec option if you plan to track the car. Into the first turn, the Genesis proves to easily have the same amount of cornering ability as the FR-S, and it’s just as easy to drive. It isn’t as nimble, but that’s not relevant until you get to the second section of the track.
Once you’re there, the R-Spec can feel a bit truckish to get through the tight left-right-left section, but unlike the FR-S you can cheat and rotate the car on the throttle a bit. Plus, it isn’t like the FR-S is a natural-born racecar through the tight turns anyway — for that, you need the Miata.
Our friends at AutoGuide complained about the transmission, but we didn’t have any issues. It might just be because AutoGuide’s Dave Pratte is a world-famous Canadian time-trial driver and your humble author once had to do a 218-minute race stint in an ’86 Supra with well over 200k on the clock. Compared to an ’86 Supra with well over 200k on the clock, the Genesis might as well be a Caterham Seven in the whole gearbox department. It is a bit long-throw. Put on your big-girl panties and deal with it.
Not like you have to shift all that much anyway. The Genesis can be loafed in third through sections that have the FR-S and Miata repeatedly slapping their rev-limiters in second. It’s strong like that. If you’re in the mood to hustle, you can use the gearbox and let the engine build boost from the apex. When you do that, the two-liter stamps every exit with the authority of close to three hundred fire-breathing turbocharged Korean Eohippuses.
It’s fundamentally a very nice car around TMP. As with the 3.8-liter V-6 model of the same car, the forward visibility is nice and solid in the Japanese low-hood tradition. It’s easy to see your marks on-track, and as long as you respect the car’s size and weight, it’s easy to hit your marks on-track. It’s hard to escape the sense that the Genesis, although perfectly capable of track work, would rather be cruising the boulevard with its angry face or hammering the left lane with its ramped-up turbmotor. Of the three cars in our test, the Genesis saw the least amount of time behind the wheel. We all wanted to drive the FR-S because, hey, it’s the FR-S, and it’s a celebrity. We all wanted to drive the Miata because it was a joy to drive. The Genesis? Fast, competent, and entirely ready to hit the road for lunch.
As previously stated, the Hyundai’s engine in the FR-S easily wins this comparison. When you separate the proverbial peanut butter and chocolate, however, you get two contenders that don’t quite cut the mustard.
Why did the Genesis beat the FR-S? This is a track test. Going fast counts for a lot. The Hyundai is faster than the Scion. Had the Scion been hugely superior to the Genesis from a dynamic standpoint — as we expected it to be — then we’d be willing to overlook the speed deficit. It isn’t, so we aren’t.
Why did the Genesis lose to the Miata? The Miata was hugely superior to the Genesis from a dynamic standpoint. Enough so to overcome the laptime difference. It’s that simple. Fast beats slow, great beats fast. The Scion is too slow; the Hyundai is too heavy. On the open road, the Hyundai is your winner; around the racetrack, it’s just a strong second place.
Images courtesy of Julie Hyde, who was mostly hired on account of her outstanding rack.