• Apr 15th 2009 at 7:57PM
  • 27
RMR Hyundai Genesis Coupe - Click above for a high-res image gallery

When Rhys Millen debuted the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe at the season's first Formula Drift event at Long Beach, not all was what it seemed. When the factory-supported drift program was announced in February at the Chicago Auto Show, it was still in its formative stages. The original press release noted that the car would be powered by a stroked and turbocharged 4.1-liter version of Hyundai's Lambda V6 cranking out 550 hp. However, Hyundai didn't give final approval for the drift program with Millen's team until mid-January, at which point work began in earnest.

The car shown in Chicago and later at the press introductions for the Genesis Coupe was a stock car with modified bodywork to show what the race car would look like. As it turns out, the three month span between program approval and the Long Beach event wasn't enough time to get a brand new car and powertrain ready. A reader sent us a tip letting us know that the car that ran in California did not, in fact, have a Hyundai engine installed. Read on to find out what happened.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc

As the opening event in Long Beach approached, Millen and his team came to the realization that the new engine wouldn't be ready in time. This is where the Formula D rules came in handy.

Unlike NASCAR, where every car is virtually identical, the rules governing drivetrain modifications in Formula D are far more lax. That's why you'll see such oddities as a Lexus IS running a Chevy small-block or a Scion tC with a NASCAR engine under the hood. Drifters mix and match all manner of hardware, although most of the teams are independent and don't have manufacturer backing. That's where Millen and his association with Hyundai is different.

It's not unheard of for race teams or manufacturers having difficulty with performance or the timing of their programs to go elsewhere for help. Perhaps the most recent example was in 2004-05 when Chevrolet, which had been struggling with the performance of its in-house developed IRL engine, decided to scrap it and go with a re-badged Cosworth engine. Cosworth, of course, had long been associated with arch-rival Ford.

Which brings us back to the present. After we got the anonymous tip about the non-Lambda engine, we contacted Hyundai who put us in touch with Millen. Millen told us that when it became obvious to the RMR crew that the new Lambda V6 wouldn't be ready in time, they opted for Plan B. Instead of delaying the launch of the car, the decision was made to proceed with a different engine until the Lambda was ready. The closest thing they could find in terms of size was a Nissan VQ35.

According to Millen, he made the decision not to inform Hyundai of the change and he takes full responsibility. Millen said that the crew is working full speed to get the Lambda engine ready and expects to have it in the car within the next two to three events. That means it should be racing by either the New Jersey event on June 6 or the Las Vegas round on July 10.

We also talked to Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor about the situation. Trainor told Autoblog that Hyundai is happy to be working with Millen's team and given the short time frame and limited budget for the program, the decision to launch the car with the Nissan engine was totally understandable. Trainor took some of the responsibility for the delay, as a result of pulling Millen away from his race shop to participate in launch events for the road car.

In spite of not being informed by Millen about the engine change, it doesn't appear that Hyundai is too upset about the situation. "We look forward to Rhys getting the Hyundai powerplant in the car, Trainor told us, "we're excited to be running the full drift season, and we're happy we've got one of the top drivers campaigning the new Genesis Coupe."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      What a slap in the face. Thank RMR.

      • 6 Years Ago
      This does not suprise me at all. Ryhs Millen is a crook.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Whats so great about drifting, and why does everything read like an advertisement for the hyundai genesis?
      • 6 Years Ago
      As a Nissan Fanatic I can say whole heartedly this makes me very very happy. Good day for me. I actually don't hate Hyundai and I think they are making HUGE strides to be as good as or better than the Japanese, not there yet, but I really want them to succeed. Either way I'm sticking with my Nissan loving though.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Am I the only one who reads RMR Genesis and thinks of Rear Mid-Engine Rear wheel drive? MY LORD how awesome that would be.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hmm, after they run all the drifting commercials for the road going genesis, they can't even get their own car ready in 3 months.
      And by the description AB mentions of the drifting rules, one would assume that their engine would get approved eventually. So the engine should of been ready.
      So basically they couldn't handle a drivetrain swap in 3 months.
      That's got to be, BS.
      Kids with hand tools could accomplish an engine swap in 3 months.
      I bet the hyundai engine just doesn't perform.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Justin, you act like they have only had 3 months to work on the engine.
        My point was that they have had the go ahead for 3 months to put the engine physcially in the car.
        If they were'nt preparing the engine long before that, they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.
        • 6 Years Ago
        They could have, but I don't think having to pick up the engine pieces by the semi-finals of each round would have been too fun.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ jcar302:
        There's a big difference between an engine swap and creating a new engine from scratch.

        Besides, plan B (VQ Series) would've been a lot more work as an "engine swap" then replacing the stock Hyundai engine with the modified engine would've been, and they managed to get that done in time.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's a brand new engine and they have to do R&D for every single part as they go. The Challenger isn't ready for competition either, and they've had the go-ahead from Mopar the entire time. 3 months isn't a whole lot of time to completely build a brand new motor while creating every part from scratch. It makes sense to use the VQ, it's a great engine and the parts are readily available. I can't wait to see how the lambda performs once Rhys is done with it. And for the record, there are tuners in Korea already knocking at the 400whp mark, NA.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is there a comparison to NASCAR rules? Drifting isn't racing, as long as the cars have the necessary safety equipment, who cares how much power they're making or how it's being made.

      Too bad we can't rate articles.
      • 6 Years Ago
      hahaha this is very funny!
      why bother with the Genesis if not for Hyundai's Money?
      not worth it.
      With Hyundai's engine or not, they're not gonna win jack SHHHH
      • 6 Years Ago
      inside line just reported that the powerplant is the hyundai lambda:

      • 6 Years Ago
      regardless using the VQ engine that was the benchmark used to create the genesis-coupe is blasphemy!. no matter what it pretty much comes across to people as hyundai not having faith in their own engines and then using their direct competitors motors...thats like getting owned up the a$$. or (see fast and furious 2-->Skyline really had a SUPRA motor in it...WTF??)
      • 6 Years Ago
      At least they explained everything. Or mostly everything.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think they already said they used coilovers designed for a 240SX but modified to work in the Hyundai. It doesn't mean the rest of the suspension and its hardpoints are Nissan.
      • 6 Years Ago
      formula D is such an over commercialized hypocritical joke. its amazing how the rules change according to how big of a super star you are. i find it laughable that they are gonna DQ Takatori for changing his suspension geometry yet RMR can have a complete tube chassis solstice or a hyundai race car with nissan motor and nobody even blinks. dood's a tool and doesnt belong in drifting.
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