The Hyundai Genesis Coupe is by far and away the best competitor to the Mustang since we figured out we could eat cow. Hyundai's power unit choices will now be shadowed by Ford for their new 2015 Mustang, so is the Genesis Coupe still relevant or calf needing to be put down?
[Full Disclosure: Hyundai didn't want me to review the Genesis so bad, that I had to go and buy one from them. Though, they did try everything in their power to make me purchase one at full price, the folks over at Carbuying.Jalopnik.com had my back, and I ended up paying quite a bit less...]
The R-Spec is the base model for the 3.8 liter engine and the 2nd lowest tier for the 2.0 liter turbo model; it comes as standard with a manual transmission (you'll have to upgrade if you want the auto/flappy paddle version), leather/cloth seats, limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, and some cool gauges you can't really look at while you're driving unless you want to crash into an alpaca.
I'd like to think that the Genesis is a sleeper because it doesn't really look like a muscle car, sports car, or some sort of rocketship, but that simply isn't true because I've been complimented on it more times than I can count within my first week of ownership.
Before I spent time with this new Genesis, I also didn't really like the nose and just though they ruined the front end with the update, but it is truly growing on me. I don't appreciate the fake vents on the hood; it seems like a move out of the new Challenger's book, but the Challenger is just cool enough to be able to pull something like that off.
For a base model sports car, the interior is quite voluptuous with its leather-wrapped steering wheel, half-cloth/half-leather seats, and folding rear seats.
There is some fake metal plastic on the steering wheel and center console that I don't really mind. The dashboard is plastic, but stitched to make it look like leather; I am not really sure what Hyundai was thinking there.
I particularly like the half-cloth/half-leather seats, keeping you positioned correctly along with the hugging construction, and probably being the best thing next to full-on alcantara Recaro seats.
The temperature control system is quite basic; don't go looking for any crazy things like heated seats or blowing headrests with the R-Spec model.
Acceleration is great if you're in the right gear, but best of all is the pull in 6th at highway speeds; it doesn't kick you in the tuckus or anything, but you'll have no problem making a move if you need it.
I drove a V6 Mustang before I bought this, and the problem I had with the Mustang was that the throttle pedal went a long way before you actually felt anything; this is not so in the Genesis. The pedal is linear and gives exactly as much as you'd expect it to give.
0-60 mph is read at 5.2 seconds (if you can shift fast enough), 0.6 seconds better than the previous Hyundai Genesis; good for a NA V6, but not as good as the 'Stang's 5.0.
Braking is good, but I haven't seriously tested it enough to give my opinion. From what I've read, braking in the Genesis is slightly worse that in a Mustang, but not dramatically worse.
Let me go autocrossing and I'll get back to you...
The ride is excellent.
As good if not better than my parents' Sonata. Yes, you can still feel every bump and the ride is communicative, but you're not going though the roof after you mistake a pothole for a jelly doughnut, and I've never hit a bump that caused pain on me or one of my passengers.
Handling is great.
The steering is heavy and incredibly accurate, but not as precise as the BRZ/FRS. Camber changes in the road are communicated though the wheel well enough, and stepping out the rear is as easy as [your favorite] pie (granted you have the traction disabled); holding a slide is a different story and more down to your constituents.
It took me a couple of days and a read of the manual to figure out, but there are 2 stages to fully turning off the traction control. Press the 'traction control off' button once and the power-cut is disabled; press and hold the button for 3+ seconds again (till you hear a beep and a display change on the dash) and the passive braking is disabled.
...don't put it in a tree.
The gearbox is clunky; there I said it.
Once you get a momentum going, the shifts are fine, but in traffic from 1st to 2nd you won't be imagining that you're using a scalpel to cut though lanes of traffic.
The old gearbox was worse, but for some reason I liked it's clunky nature and thought it felt more industrial. The new box, however, is improved which has somehow made it worse. All the way or nothing Hyundai boffins, all the way or nothing.
I was unsure about the nob, but I've grown into it. The leather squeaks in 6th gear as you drive along which is very annoying, but can be subdued with music or wind noise.
For the price, toys are pretty minimal, but I just tell everybody that its a 'driver's car' and I'm done with the argument.
iPod connectivity is located behind the panel above the gear nob, but the only place to put your iPod/iPhone is in the cup holder, as it doesn't fit in the compartment and even if it did, the cable would be in the way.
Being in the cup holder, the iPhone is still a bit of a pain during shifting if you don't have the cable circumnavigating the nob and the iPhone in its upright position at all times.
The best part of the toys that come with the R-Spec model is the trio of gauges measuring (from left to right) instantaneous fuel consumption, torque, and oil temperature. Problem is, I never am able to watch the torque gauge work its magic as I'm a bit more focused on what's happening though the windscreen.
The stereo is average, but not nearly good enough for an audiophile. Its sounds a bit thin all the time. Another quirk if you've never been in a Hyundai is that their stereos always play about 10-15 measurement (out of 35) louder using a CD over an iPod.
Let's skip to the engine note as that is the main concern between buying this V6 over an American V8 from Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge.
This V6 isn't the sound of excellence; it isn't the sound of bruteness, or tactfulness, or even opulence. You won't have to worry about losing yourself when you hear it rev.
The 3.8 liter engine is deep and throaty under 4k rpm and etches in to a screech above, still not losing its midrange roar. Its almost as if the Genesis' 3.8 want to be a V8 so badly, it intimidates its American friends as much as a foreigner with an accent can.
Mind you, the V6 isn't as bad as I have described it above. It sounded absolutely stellar down Wacker drive, and provides the perfect soundtrack to overtaking on an abandoned tree-banked backroad. My only tip: don't discount it till you drive it.
It took me a long time to work out (almost a week), but the Genesis is what the V6 Mustang should have been, and maybe what the new 2015 version will be. The Genesis 3.8 is a V6 Mustang where every single piece is a little bit better (yes, I also watched the Top Gear DBS review recently).
I really struggled between the Genesis Coupe and a Subaru BRZ when the time got down to the wire, but opted for the Genesis with it's almost 150 horsepowers over the BRZ. The BRZ has satellite navigation as standard, but its a gimmick if I've ever seen one, and I won't personally opt for such a system until automakers get their UI and UX under control.
Comparing price to a V6 Mustang, you should probably choose the Mustang, but if you want a Muscle car that feels like a driver's car instead of a cruse-mobile, the Genesis Coupe will gladly get you all the way home.
|Engine||3.8L Normally Aspirated V6|
|Power||348 hp at 6,400 rmp / 295 lbs-ft at 5,100 rmp|
|Top Speed||151 mph|
|Curb Weight||3503 lbs|
|Seating||2 able-bodied up front, perhaps a dog in the back|
|MPG||16 city / 24 highway / 19 combined (but you can do better)|