First Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Grand Touring Review
When you think of well-known performance models, pair those up with car companies and put together a list; any way you cut it, Hyundai ends up somewhere between last and second to last. After all, this Korean powerhouse is best known for making cheap daily drivers with warranties that smack every other automaker across the face. So, it was a big risk they took going after a market dominated by the likes of Mustang, Camaro, 370Z and G37. Not only did they have to deliver a compelling sports car but they had to keep within the brand’s design aesthetic and maintain their value proposition (yes, I went to business school). At this point in the story, we all know they succeeded. Whether you are talking the Four P’s or the Three C’s, these guys executed flawlessly.
We’ve all heard the tremendous hype as well as the unflattering barbs directed at this vehicle but, like most things, the truth falls somewhere in the middle. A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to road test the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track edition and walked away extremely impressed though not totally blown-away (due to some minor quirks). So, we were really looking forward to seeing how the supposed Mustang slayer, the Genesis Coupe 3.8, performed in the wild with its bigger engine and beefier guts. And so the journey begins…
The Hyundai Genesis 3.8T Grand Touring edition is somewhat of an anomaly. And I’m still not sure how I feel about it. To say “mixed” doesn’t do it justice and to say “confused” just seems like I don’t know how to do my job. Hyundai automatically gets ‘big-ups’ for producing a budget-minded rear-wheel drive sports car with 300+ horsepower. The clean lines and spot-on proportions are more than just appealing but stop just shy of something you could fall in love with. The Genesis Coupe can easily be mistaken for the Infinity G37 from a distance, which is not a bad thing. Overall, the design has proved tremendously polarizing.
But when you slide-inside, any shortcomings you may or may not have concerning the car’s ‘look’ fade away as you enter a cabin that shames the current stable of American pony cars. It’s not perfect, with cheapo plastic on the center dash and paneling, but the ergonomics, layout of the controls and the design aesthetic are truly fabulous. The seats are heavily bolstered but still uber-comfortable with enough support and padding to make long-haul road-tripping just as feasible as track day driving. Usually I’m not a fan of two-tone motifs but the brown leather seating surfaces and side trims are nicely offset by the black leather accents on the door, dash and center stack.
The optional navigation package provides a 7-inch touch screen display that is definitely worth the price of admission. Not only does it give the car a luxury vibe, but the navigation has solid graphics, an easy user interface and impressive logic. Although true drum-and-bass heads may be yearning for more, the 10-speaker Infinity audio system is outstanding with door tweeters and woofers, a standalone subwoofer and a center channel. And the Genesis Coupe is outfitted with all of the other things that, while seemingly minor, are becoming must-haves in today technocratic society – heated seats, Satellite radio, Bluetooth-phone integration, iPod and USB connectivity and a universal remote-transmitter. Overall, the car comes well-appointed with power sunroof, anti-theft alarm system, auto-sensing xenon headlamps, a tire-pressure monitoring system, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls.
The 2010 Genesis Coupe 3.8 Grand Touring has a base price of $28,500 with the manual transmission. Our model featured the $1500 upgrade to the 6-speed ZF automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The 3.8-liter V6 engine is good for 306 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, just enough to get sideways and overcome the car’s penchant for under-steer.
Unfortunately, the Genesis Coupe 3.8 does not feel like a 300+ horsepower car. Don’t get me wrong – it is relatively fast – about 5.8 seconds from 0 to 60 mph – but the push you would expect is somehow lacking. Redline is 6,500 rpm with maximum thrust coming in at 4,700 rpm. The paddle-shifters are a nice touch but leave you yearning for a gearbox. That said, the transmission, when in full auto mode, does a good job of choosing aggressive shift points.
Handling is crisp despite the 55% front weight imbalance. On the 2.0T, steering feel seemed muted but this was not the case with the 3.8, which didn’t seem as over-boosted. Road conditions and cornering forces are accurately reflected in the steering response. The suspension, however, did seem much more rigid than expected for a Grand Touring model. Traction control is adjustable and the “off ” setting seems to be just about right. The car’s widely touted “throaty exhaust” seemed a bit soggy and too refined.
After road testing both the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track M/T edition and the 3.8 Grand Touring A/T with Navigation, it’s clear that this platform is without a doubt a phenomenal first true foray into the sports car class for Hyundai. While the previous lukewarm attempt, the Tiburon, had sporty looks, the anemic 172 horsepower engine relegated it to obscurity and irrelevance.
I won’t beat a dead-horse with endless comparisons to the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Nissan 370Z in various options and trim. That’s been done ad nauseam. So, I’ll just make a couple of recommendations if you do choose to purchase the Genesis Coupe, a solid decision any way you slice it.
The first consideration is whether or not to go with the 210-hp 4-cylinder Turbo or 306hp V6. If you are interested in performance tuning your ride, the 4-banger is most-definitely the way to go, as the Evo sourced engine is bullet-proof and ready for boost. If you plan to keep everything stock and want solid power, the V6 will serve you well. In either case, go with the manual transmission. It’s not as precise as one would like but with a car setup such as this it will increase the enjoyment factor 10x. (If fuel economy is of concern, the 4-cylinder gets 21 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway while the V6 gets 17 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway.)
If you choose the 3.8, going with the Navigation is a must. In this day and age, if you are buying new, it’s a no-brainer as the addition of the touch screen unit on the streamlined center console significantly improves cabin aesthetic and, frankly, you’ll be sorry you left that check box blank. And the final and arguably most important decision is trim level and there is no debate here – get the Track edition. The addition of a stiffer suspension, Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a limited-slip diff and trunk spoiler make all the difference in the world. Based on these recommendations, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track M/T with Navigation will set you back $30,500 while the 2.0T Track M/T runs $26,750. Happy motoring…