OK, this isn’t really a first drive. Or even a second one. In fact, car people have been flogging the 2010 Hyundai Genesis coupe all over the world for awhile now. Korea, California--even Las Vegas have played host to intrepid journalists getting a look at the small sports car that's in many ways creating its own niche.
But if the Genesis coupe is on your shopping list of potential summer pick-ups--you probably can't get enough of this car. So here is yet another take. And it’s a realistic one. We drove the sporty two-door over winding rural roads in Michigan, in the open areas about 30 miles west of Detroit. And we spent some time on real, ordinary roads in mid-sized communities, driving normally.
So no track time. But this experience was actually pretty close to how you will drive this car, should you choose it to grace your driveway. It’s definitely a peppy option. The all-aluminum turbo four-cylinder is rated at 210 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque, and when paired with the Hyundai-crafted six-speed manual, offers fun, affordable transportation with plenty of style and interaction.
Our four-banger had the track pack; that means 19-inch wheels, summer tires, bright red Brembos and a stiffer chassis, among other goodies. You will notice the difference. The track adds an edge that the V6 touring model we later tried simply didn’t have. Yes, that V6 was an automatic--but the track pack's flair is omnipresent. The turbo is a solid motor, and reaching 60 mph takes little effort under normal circumstances.
Our V6 was comfortably appointed and still plenty of fun with the six-speed ZF automatic transmission. Shifts are quick, and enthusiasts can play Schumacher with the quirky paddles or bump through the gears with the center shifter. With the nice interior finishings, pleasing materials and solid layout, this is probably the closest comparison that can be drawn to the big-brother (and Car of the Year) Genesis sedan. Indeed, they share the same 3.8-liter V6, but the coupe gets a slight power boast to 306 hp (vs. the four-door's 290 hp).
But beyond a few underpinning swaps, and of course the name, these siblings are very much different in their drive character. The V6's bolstered output really shines through in the coupe, and it's a lot of power for a smaller car. Punch off the traction control, and you'll see that firsthand.
The V6's power also was evident when teamed with the manual transmission, which is a very enjoyable pairing. Building the revs on the expressway and whipping through the gears is flat-out fun.
All of the models we tested handled the winding route well. They were civilized, maintained composure through turns and absorbed the occasional bumps well. The stiffer track pack offered some chatters on a couple of rough spots, but that's to be expected.
Some have said the Genesis coupe could join the pony-car stable. But it's really not in that category--for good or bad. The lithe Mustang offers some parallels in terms of handling, but the Camaro and Challenger are far brawnier road-goers. Some will want that. And the styling of the Hyundai, with its "Z" beltline and wedge headlights is much different than the eye-catching retro looks of the Detroiters.
Speaking of Zs, Nissan's 370 is a decent comparison, but like the American coupes, it has its own rich tradition. The Mazda RX-8 is more athletic than the Genesis, but is also a suitable measuring stick.
Overall, the Genesis coupe looks like a solid commuter car for those looking to spice up their daily drives. It's enjoyable, but usable. You can park it. You can maneuver it. There's room to put (some) stuff in it. And for a starting price of $22,750 with freight, this is within reach for a lot of people. Spruce it up and you pay $31,750 for a fully-loaded model, but it's still a decent value.
Hyundai execs have said they considered making the Genesis its own line, but ultimately decided against it. The sedan, and now the coupe are much different from the rest of the company's offerings. They may not stand on their own--yet. But with two potential winners in a year, Genesis is clearly the beginning of something special for Hyundai.
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