Thursday, November 13, 2008
Hyundai Genesis Coupe has BMW's 335i Coupe in Its Sights
Is there a segment of the market that Hyundai isn't targeting? Whether through its namesake brand or via its subsidiary Kia, every category from subcompact hatchbacks to V8-powered luxury sedans and full-size 4x4-capable SUVs has a competitive model vying for its piece of the action.
The first vehicle to truly stun auto industry pundits was the full-size Veracruz crossover, and that only came after a Santa Fe that did its fair share of jaw dropping. Comments such as Lexus-like appointments were followed up with BMW-like handling and breathtaking acceleration when the Genesis sedan arrived, overshadowing its own full-size front-drive Azera and near best-in-class Sonata. Now the Korean segment shaker is taking on BMW's sacrosanct 3-Series Coupe with its new Genesis Coupe, making some pretty bold claims that it will have to live up to as soon as the first test drives take place.
By targeting BMW's 3, Hyundai knows that all other comers will be pushed to the side, the German car revered above all direct competitors, other than possibly the Infiniti G37 Coupe for handling prowess. Therefore other rear-drive sport coupes like Ford's Mustang, Dodge's new Challenger and Chevy's upcoming Camaro, at least in V6 trim, will be automatically disqualified. Right off the mark its 310-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 and 3,402 pound curb weight give it a better power to weight ratio than the top-line 335i, Infiniti's G37, the Camaro LS and the Challenger.
The numbers speak for themselves, with a 0 to 60 mph time of just 5.7 seconds and EPA highway fuel consumption in the 25 mpg range.
"One of the program targets for the Genesis engineering team was world-class weight efficiency," commented John Krafcik, vice president, Product Development and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "When you look at the size and content of both Genesis models, you'll find we lead all our competitors in weight efficiency. We also target leadership in power-to-weight ratio. We think that's just smart strategy in today's world. It pays huge dividends in both performance and fuel economy, and that's especially important in the segments in which these cars compete."
The Genesis Coupe fuel miser is its entry-level 3,303-pound 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder with dual continuously variable valve timing, good for an estimated 220-horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, while using premium fuel (regular fuel is good for 210-hp). It comes mated to a standard six-speed manual, with a five-speed automatic featuring steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters as optional equipment. The car's top speed is targeted at 137 mph, while highway fuel consumption is estimated to ring in at 30 mpg. But a turbocharged four-cylinder wouldn't offer the kind of refinement you'd want, right? Maybe it will.
"While some turbochargers sacrifice smooth drivability with high operating boost pressures in the 20 psi range, Genesis Coupe uses a refined, low-boost calibration for smoothness and efficiency," said Derek Joyce, Genesis Coupe product manager. "We could have opted solely for big performance numbers, but our focus for the 2.0T was a more balanced package."
While all of the aforementioned is impressive, you might want to sit down about now, as what you're about to hear next might be shocking. Like the Genesis Sedan, the new rear-drive Coupe uses a lot of ultra-high-strength steel, resulting in world-class body rigidity. Slapping the big boys right in the face, the Genesis sedan already enjoys 10- to 12-percent greater torsional rigidity than its Lexus and Mercedes-Benz competitors, while being lighter than either benchmark four-door and delivering more interior room. At a mere 3,303 pounds the Genesis Coupe 2.0T is hundreds of pounds lighter than all of its independent rear suspension-equipped rear-wheel drive rivals, with (take a deep breath) body-bending rigidity that's twenty-four percent higher than a BMW E46 M3! OK, them's fightin' words, Hyundai.
To make matters worse, Hyundai will offer a track model of the four-cylinder and six-cylinder coupe, models that will no doubt be snapped up by drifters and autocross specialists alike. An even edgier R-Spec model will be four-cylinder only, and get stripped of many creature comforts luxury coupe buyers expect in their rides; the latter category will be happier with the Grand Touring model.
The Grand Touring will be surprisingly well stuffed with luxury accoutrements if fully loaded, such as proximity sensing keyless entry and push button start, heated brown leather clad front seats (black leather comes standard in the regular 3.8 model, power actuated for the driver with lumbar support, a navigation system that will soon include a Microsoft co-developed Sync-like Bluetooth interactivity interface, heated power remote mirrors, back-up sensors, a power glass sunroof, and a 360-watt audio system with 10-speakers and a sub. Visibility will be enhanced with HID headlights too, very premium spec equipment.
Back to the Track and R-Spec models, gone are the chrome accents on the front grille, replaced with body-color, while 19-inch gunmetal finish alloy rims will come framed in Bridgestone Potenza RE050A rubber at 225/40 in the front and 245/40 at the rear. Clearly visible through the spokes will be 13.4-inch front rotors clamped down on by four-piston Brembo calipers, while 13.0-inch discs will get the pinch from four-piston calipers in back. At that end a torsen-type limited slip differential gets added, while stiffer coil springs and beefier shocks are joined by a 25 mm front sway bar and a 22 mm one in the rear.
A rear spoiler and fog lamps will be added too. Altogether it should be a particularly formidable foe for weekend warriors, although probably a bit nasty for day to day driving.
The standard Euroflange alloy wheels are sizeable too, at 18 inches, while the standard brakes get single floating calipers squeezing 12.6-inch front and 12.4-inch rear rotors. All Genesis Coupes feature a MacPherson dual-link front and five-link rear suspension setup, plus 24 mm front and 19 mm rear sway bars complemented by a beefy strut brace spanning the engine compartment. Steering is rack and pinion with 2.7 turns lock to lock, and Electronic Stability Control with ABS, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Brake Assist, plus a Tire Pressure Monitoring System also comes at no charge. Also part of the base package is front, side and side-curtain airbags, as well as active front head restraints.
Other standard features include power windows with one-touch up/down control, keyless entry, steering wheel controls accessing an AM/FM/XM/CD 6-speaker audio system boasting a hub with USB, iPod and an auxiliary jack connections, Bluetooth, cruise control, and projector beam headlights. A Premium model will be available with the aforementioned navigation system, glass sunroof, proximity sensing keyless entry and push-button start, Homelink, and the 360-watt audio system.
As an overview, the model lineup starts with the base 2.0T model, then moves up to the 2.0T Premium, 2.0 Track, 2.0T R-Spec (late availability), 3.8, 3.8 Grand Touring and 3.8 Track. Nine exterior colors named after famed racetracks (or portions thereof) should make sure you get some exclusivity off the shelf, and include Karussell White, Bathurst Black, Silverstone, Nordschleife Gray, Acqua Minerale Blue, Tsukuba Red, Mirabeau Blue, Lime Rock Green, Interlagos Yellow.
Should BMW be worried? Certainly 335i owners might want to work on their "I could take him if I wanted to" shrug as the Genesis Coupe flashes past, but the German brand isn't about to lose many Bimmer loyalists, at least not right away. Street cred takes time to build and prestige much longer, but those who'd like to own a BMW but don't have the necessary funds will buy the Genesis Coupe in droves, and they'll take pride in knowing that their ride has the stuff to lay waste to many in the premium sector. BMW might not need to be too concerned, but other sport coupe makers ought to sit up and take notice, as Hyundai is about to shake up yet another category, and by doing so enhance its brand image yet again.