Capsule Review 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
“My friend at [Hyundai Motor Company] was as excited about having me sample the new Genesis Coupe as I was to slide behind the wheel. I finished my official Hyundai factory tour, stepped off the bus (within the plant confines) and there she was: the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Bewildered Korean tourists gawked as I was formally introduced to South Korea’s next big thing. They hope.
Although it’s based on the same BH platform (shortened) as its big brother Genesis, the coupe is made in a separate plant, alongside, believe it or not, the Santa Fe. (The extra capacity in the Genesis plant is reserved for the new up and coming Equus executive sedan.) My “friend” had always insisted that the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a “BIG” car, and it’s true.
We walked up to a sexy “Interlagos” yellow sports coupe, donned with the 2.0 Turbo badge (perhaps European spec, as this color is reserved for 3.8 track models in the U.S. according to sources). I was a little disappointed, wanting a taste of the 306 hp beast. But who was I to complain? Strings had already been pulled. The first thing I noticed were the proportions: taut with never before tried lines and wheels pushed to the corners.
The first thing I noticed were the front buckets. (Several days later, I hopped in a Ferrari F-430 Spyder, and the sensation—backside wise—was quite similar) The silver and black center stack had two main knobs to control just about everything. They did a good job on this one, making sure it wasn’t too busy and flowed nicely into the five-speed auto-cog shifter.
The Genesis coupe is first and foremost a driver’s car. The back seats are snug; they keep you in place as you lean against drab plastic walls and peer out the oval-ish rear windows. I’m not sure what it’s usually like in the back of a 2+2 coupe, but the Genesis Coupe reminded me of a stint as a passenger in a Chevy Cobalt coupe. The Hyundai’s sleek profile certainly cuts into rear headroom (I’m 6 ft, and my crown got intimate with the headliner/rear glass).
Like its big brother, the Genesis coupe starts at the push of a chrome ringed button, just right of the steering wheel. The engine is VERY quiet at idle. It generates a melodious drone in the moments before the turbo awakens. Floor it, and the acceleration is . . . predictable.
When the turbo kicks in, there’s no real KICK IN THE PANTS moment. You can feel all of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe’s 217 lb·ft of torque come on stream, but the shove arrives in a smooth surge—rather than a 90s Saab-like explosion. Steering feel is excellent, as you’d hope for a rear wheel-drive coupe.
As we drove along what I consider the “terrain course,” we surmounted a gamut of road surfaces and conditions. Even on the bumpiest roads, Genesis Coupe remained calm and composed. Props to Hyundai’s engineers for finding the right suspension and dampening balance between control and comfort.
Unlike most non-ultimate driving machines, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe’s transmission’s Sport mode created an appreciable difference in feel and performance. The shifts arrive sooner, keeping the Korean in the meat of the power curve. Before Sport-age, I barely crested 100 mph on the slalom course. In Sport mode, I easily drove over the ton. The brakes inspired confidence—especially after the barricade at the end of the course appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
My stint behind the wheel was short but sweet. If I had $20Gs and a craving for fun, it would certainly be my pick over comparable sports compacts. The strange thing: not many can compare. Whether or not there’s a good reason for that remains to be seen.
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