Few brands have made a more dramatic turnaround than Hyundai, the South Korean carmaker that, earlier this year, captured the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy with its first-ever luxury model, the Genesis sedan.
The powerful, lavishly equipped 4-door is a far cry from the cheap-and-cheerful models Hyundai was long known for – and the arrival of the Genesis Coupe should win a number of new converts to the Korean maker.
This is not simply a 2-door version of the sedan. The Coupe is a foot shorter and 500 pounds lighter – which makes a lot of sense if you're targeting the sporty performance crowd.
Where the sedan's styling is conservative, even derivative, there's a bit of the bad boy in the Genesis Coupe.
With its short overhangs and relatively long hood, the second entry into the Genesis line has the classic, overall dimensions of a sporty, rear-wheel-drive sedan. From the side, Hyundai designers developed a bit of a Coke bottle shape, with an accent line rising from nose to the slightly flared rear fenders. One of the defining features is the reverse kick of the small rear side windows, a detail that generated a lot of excitement when the original concept coupe appeared a few years ago.
Inside, the styling is equally crisp and sporty, with a cockpit-style layout that nicely complements the exterior and generally matches the Genesis Coupe's sporty aspirations. Visibility is great, particularly for a coupe. Even the base car is well executed, while the trim on the top-line 3.8 Grand Tourer is especially well done -- gaining such niceties as heated leather seats and an audiophile-level Infinity 360-watt, 10-speaker sound system.
Hyundai is offering two engine options. The base 2.0-liter I-4, with its intercooled turbo, pumps out a solid 210 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque, with only the most moderate amount of turbo lag. The bigger, 3.8-liter V-6 makes a hefty 306 hp and 266 lb-f, 16 horsepower and 2 pound-feet more than the six-banger generates in the Genesis sedan.
We tested both models on-track and off, and we were impressed with not just the power – 0 to 60 times of 5.5 seconds with the V-6 -- but also the surprisingly refined handling.
Some nits to pick? Yes: We'd like a telescoping steering wheel, and the 6-speed manual needs a bit of work. But on the whole, the Genesis Coupe is yet another reason skeptics need to take a new look at Hyundai.
2010 HYUNDAI GENESIS COUPE
MPG: 21 city/30 highway for turbo 2.0-liter I-4; 17/26 for 3.8-liter V-6.
Engine options: Turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 210 horsepower/223 pound-feet torque, ornormally-aspirated 3.8-liter V-6, 306 hp, 266 lb-ft.
Manufacturer's suggested retail price (base): $22,000.
Cost fully loaded: $35,000.
By Paul A. Eisenstein
GateHouse News Service