2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track M/T

The first Korean to take a run at the classically American Pony Car formula was the Genesis Coupe, and it is interesting to revisit it after its first serious update. Outside there’s a new, “corporate” nose that many like, though I preferred the earlier frontal visage. Other external changes are minor; present still are the same bold bodylines, the cool inverted rear side window treatment and the great, athletic stance. Inside the GC hasn’t aged well, and the recent freshening doesn’t help; vacuum formed stitching on the faux leather dash is a bad idea in any car, never mind one that is supposed to feel seriously sporty. Likewise many of the materials are cheap and hard; while neither Ford nor Chevy—the two big domestic competitors—do it much better, but that’s still no excuse. And I have no idea why the infotainment system wouldn’t integrate with a near-new iPod Classic that works flawlessly in most other cars.

Not that I could hear much anyway, over the road roar (better suppressed than in a Nissan 370Z but not as well controlled as in the domestics) and the lovely growl from the 348hp V6 engine. While there is a 2-liter turbo offering for the GC that would probably be great here in Colorado’s thinner air, the torquey 3.8 was very compelling, with the kind of instant throttle response and wonderful, burgeoning rush to redline that are missing from so many midrange-focused forced induction mills these days. Coupled to a six-speed manual, it made the Genesis Coupe one fast mover, and one that was a rush to gun to the limiter.

Demerits concern the lack of finesse in the controls; clutch takeup was abrupt, the throttle impossible to smoothly modulate from rest and the shifter notchy. At first I thought I had lost my ability to punch through a fast 1-2 shift without jerking passengers’ heads back and forth, but then I spent a week in a manual transmission-equipped MINI and it was effortless to make smooth and fast progress. A bit more work on this sort of thing would move the Hyundai closer to rivals.

Little work is needed in the chassis or braking departments, though. The Genesis Coupe road firmly but didn’t jar (despite the sexy 19 inch wheels) and the Track model’s Brembo brakes were easily modulated, fade free and pleasing to stomp. Body control is excellent, steering accurate—if lacking ultimate feel—and the balance rewarding, with quick turn-in, a nice neutrality and the ability to turn off the safety watchdogs and hang the tail with abandon.

For a first effort the Genesis Coupe is terrific; thankfully Hyundai seems intent on nurturing this niche market plaything, and I am very happy they are doing so. With just a bit more breeding they will have an extremely compelling rear wheel drive driver’s car on their hands.
EPA ratings: 18/27; 21mpg combined
Price as tested: 34,015

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