As a rear-wheel-drive dedicated sports coupe, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe occupies a unique position amongst current car models. The Nissan 370Z is its closest competitor, with the only other powerful rear-wheel-drive coupes being retro American muscle cars, such as the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, and Chevrolet Camaro. Other rear-wheel-drive sport coupes tend to be sedans with the rear doors welded shut.
The Genesis Coupe, with its curvy body, looks nothing like a muscle car, but its power train feels as solid. Handling seems equivalent, if not better. Hyundai also uses the Genesis name for its luxury sedan, which is a strange marketing decision, as the coupe is built from the ground up to be a sports car. The Genesis Coupe offers some of the cabin tech found in the Genesis Sedan, although interior materials reflect its lower price point.
On the road
We tested a 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track model with a manual transmission, the highest-end version of the Genesis Couple available. At the low end is the Genesis Coupe 2.0T, using a smaller engine. The Track trim gives the Genesis Coupe a specially tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, and 19-inch wheels with summer tires.
A quick press on the start button gets the 3.8-liter V-6 burbling. Putting the car into first, the shifter for the six-speed manual and the clutch all feel particularly solid. Unlike the petite six-speed manual in the Honda Civic Si, which you can flick from gear to gear, the shifter in the Genesis Coupe requires a little determination.
The gas pedal also needs a firm push to get the car going. Its long amount of play gives room to modulate the power more finely. We quickly find the same is true for the brakes. Tapping them won't stop the car--you can easily apply quarter or half braking power. These attributes help in sport or track driving but aren't great for heavy traffic, where all that pedal work becomes tiresome.
Driving at speed down the freeway, the track-tuned suspension doesn't prove too rigid for comfort. Fifth and sixth gear work well for cruising at speed, but fourth is geared low, making it useful for situations where power is required. Over an extended freeway cruise, we saw the trip computer go above 25 mpg, climbing toward the car's 26 mpg highway rating.
But in city and mountain driving, fuel economy stayed between 18 and 19 mpg, closer to the car's 17 mpg city rating. Blasting along winding roads, we found a lot of crossover between the second, third, and fourth gear power bands, giving a lot of flexibility in which gear we chose for any particular corner or stretch of road. Hitting the corners hard, traction control found many opportunities to intervene, and we got used to seeing it light up on the instrument panel.
We also had tested the Genesis Coupe at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to see if the Track model actually lives up to its namesake. The car remained flat and predictable in the corners, while the beefy Brembo brakes stood up to lap after lap of abuse without losing their great pedal feel and easy modulation.
Most impressive was how much the Genesis Coupe communicates with the driver. Through the steering wheel, the pedals, and the seat, the car keeps the driver in the loop on how the wheels are gripping and how the vehicle is responding to inputs without being jarringly rough.
Unencumbered by such banalities as speed limits, stop signs, and traction control, we were able to explore the limits of the 3.8-liter engine and found that the power plant was right at home on the track. The V-6's flat torque curve offers plenty of power for blasting down straights and powering out of corners without constantly hunting for gears. Thanks to grip afforded by the wide summer tires and the Torsen limited-slip differential, the Genesis Coupe is able to put its power to the road early and often.
In the cabin
The cabin tech interface in the 2009 Hyundai Genesis Coupe looks pretty conventional, with up/down buttons for selecting songs, tuning radio stations, and going through satellite radio categories or MP3 CD folders. These buttons surround a big volume knob topped by a power button. These buttons are supplemented by switchgear on the steering wheel that has a nice, solid feel.