• May 7th 2009 at 11:58AM
  • 70
2009 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track – Click above for high-res image gallery

In the 23 years since Hyundai first entered the U.S. market, the Korean automaker has come a long away. What began as a budget-oriented brand for those who couldn't afford the higher-priced products from Japan has evolved into a credible contender in virtually every segment that it competes. In the early days, the primary emphasis was on affordable motoring, sometimes at the expense of long-term durability. Today, it's a different story. From the Accent to the Genesis sedan, Hyundai still offers some of the most affordable products, but the decades-old connotations of "cheap" have been largely laid to rest.

With the introduction of the Tiburon, Hyundai finally dipped its toe into the sports-car segment, but as nice as it was, it simply didn't have the chops to play with the big boys of the performance set. Enter the Genesis Coupe. Hyundai's rear-wheel-drive two-door is the second salvo in the automaker's bid to flesh-out its premium Genesis sub-brand, while at the same time taking direct aim at a field of established competitors ranging from the Ford Mustang to the Infiniti G37. Does the Genesis have what it takes to play the game? We spent a week with a 3.8-liter Track model to find out.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

When the engineers at Hyundai decided to seriously tackle the performance coupe segment, they didn't mess around. Although the Genesis coupe shares no resemblance to the similarly named sedan, many of the mechanical bits underneath carry over – and that's a good start. The Coupe sports a fully independent suspension at each end, and in proper performance car form, the directional and tractive efforts are split between two axles. The front tires handle the steering duties while drive torque is transmitted to the rears. While our first opportunity to play with the coupe occurred at Spring Mountain this passed March, shortly thereafter, Hyundai dropped off the 3.8-liter Track variant for some more real-world evaluation.

The 3.8 Track sits at the top of the Genesis Coupe line-up and comes loaded with almost every available option. At this level, the only extras are carpeted floor mats, an iPod cable and the automatic transmission. Our Interlagos Yellow tester had everything but the self-shifting gearbox, and we were perfectly fine with that. The seats were covered in a surprisingly nice black leather, with the driver's side sporting multiple power adjustments. The front seats of the coupe are perfectly suited to a performance car with substantial bolsters on the sides and adequate thigh support. The cushioning is firm and well shaped, with no odd protrusions to inflict discomfort.

As for the rear compartment, that's another story. In typical sports coupe fashion, the back seats seem to be an afterthought. When we drove the Tiburon last year, the rear confines were totally inadequate for anyone over five-feet four-inches, requiring passengers relegated to the rear to crouch down in order to avoid bouncing their heads off the rear glass. While the Genesis is a substantially larger car, it threatens to inflict the same kind of head trauma. However, instead of the rear cushion sitting nearly flat with the floor like other coupes, the mounting position is quite high. If the roof wasn't there, the rear wouldn't be a bad place to be. But it is, and it is.

Regardless, given the Genesis Coupe's reason for existence, the front seats are the place to be. The working space for the driver is well laid out and reasonably attractive. In fact, it's quite upscale. The steering wheel features a thick rim that's easy to grip and wrapped in the same leather as the seats and shift knob. In recent years Hyundai has made a habit of benchmarking cars one class up when developing new models (the Veracruz was pitted against the Lexus RX330, as an example), while still keeping the price in check. In the Genesis, it shows. Hyundai set its sights on the Infiniti G37 coupe, while aiming for a price-point competitive with the Mustang and Camaro. The downside of this low cost of entry are materials that don't match their upscale appearance. Hard plastics dominate the dash, although the fit is tight and there are no noticeable squeaks or rattles on the pre-production sample we tested.

Of course, those materials don't necessarily affect functionality. Among other things, opting for the Track version of the Genesis means the car rides on a set of attractive 19-inch alloys with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A rubber. With the available grip, it's important for a driver to be able to sense what's happening at the pavement during cornering and here, the hydraulically assisted rack and pinion steering comes through, providing good feedback and adequate feel. The only flaw we found with the steering was during a comparatively low-speed slalom run at the track. Because the 3.8-liter V6 features decent low-end torque, sometimes there's no need to down-shift. However, the steering assist is engine-speed sensitive and if it's lower than expected, a series of quick left-right-left maneuvers could result in running out of boost and a sudden increase in effort. Fortunately, this isn't generally an issue out in the real world and it never manifested itself during our week with the Coupe.

The other major changes that come with the Track package are stiffer spring and damping rates, thicker anti-roll bars, a Torsen differential and the Brembo brake package. When we become King, all cars will come equipped from the factory with Brembos and the Genesis continues our lust for the throne. The four-piston mono-block calipers don't flex under braking, so the primary source of mushiness we've experienced with other coupes is thankfully missing from the Hyundai.

Out in California or Nevada, where the roads are smooth and relatively free of frost heaves and pot-holes, the track suspension works great. In the North-East, it's an issue. On neglected stretches of tarmac, the Track model will simply be too stiff for some as a comfortable daily driver. Every little (or enormous) imperfection is transmitted straight through to your body and even a simple run to the store can become tiresome. Unless you live somewhere with properly constructed roads, or plan to spend plenty of time driving at the track, opting for the base or grand touring models might be a better choice if the Genesis is going to be your only car. It's just too bad that the Brembos aren't available as a stand-alone option.

Aside from the Track edition's ride, the Genesis is a more than credible competitor to other coupes in the $20,000 price bracket. It has aggressive styling that sets it apart from the traditional American coupes. Rear-wheel drive means pesky issues like torque steer don't even enter into the discussion. The most glaring omission compared to the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger is a V8 engine. But from a performance perspective, the Genesis doesn't really need a V8. At 3,389 pounds, the Coupe has a 400-pound advantage over the six-cylinder Camaro and a 500-pound edge on the V8 model. The V6 Mustang weighs about the same as the Genesis, but the power is only comparable to the turbo-four, so performance is similar on the small-engined models. The comparatively light weight means the Genesis has a nimble feel that you won't find in the Camaro or Challenger, and the only downside is the Coupe's lack of a throaty rumble that only a big bent-eight can provide.

Our maxed out 3.8 Track model priced out at a very reasonable $30,375, including delivery. That puts it right in the heart of its American V8 competitors and several thousand dollars less than a G37. Those who don't need the full 306 hp provided by the V6 can opt for the 210-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and even less weight, and anyone who lives somewhere with questionable pavement might want to save $2,000 and skip the Track model. Put the extra cash towards an aftermarket set of Brembos or find a friendly Hyundai dealer to order the parts and you're nearing perfection. And "nearing perfection" is where Hyundai's first true effort in the segment lands. The Genesis Coupe delivers on nearly every conceivable level, blends an attractive exterior with a thoughtful interior, and does it all for a price that's still easy on the wallet. Hyundai's come a long way, and the Genesis coupe is the start of another great chapter.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I really love this car.
      "In the 23 years since Hyundai first entered the U.S. market, the Korean automaker has come a long away. What began as a budget-oriented brand for those who couldn't afford the higher-priced products from Japan has evolved into a credible contender in virtually every segment that it competes. In the early days, the primary emphasis was on affordable motoring, sometimes at the expense of long-term durability. Today, it's a different story. From the Accent to the Genesis sedan, Hyundai still offers some of the most affordable products, but the decades-old connotations of "cheap" have been largely laid to rest."
      My parents invited a few people over for the most recent Super Bowl game. One of my dad's friends drives a Lexus ES 330.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Aaaugh! Where'd my comment go?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Whenever I look at this car I am reminded of my great desire for it. Unfortunately, I don't think the writer provided a thorough review. Don't get me wrong, it was very informative. But I really like the Genesis Coupe, and because of this I am interested in as much information as is available when it pertains to this car. And since I am 17, I really want to know about the interior of the car, not so much about the quality but more about the technological features included in the car that may make-up for some of the short-comings of the "fit and feel" of the panels and materials. I know it can be quite difficult to write in a way that will satisfy readers of all age demographics but I would have been satisfied with atleast one mention of the audio system whether it refer to sound quality, iPod connectivity, or even interface usability. The photos provided were a bit on the scarce side when it came to the interior. No close-ups. I really wanted to see a pic. of maybe the inside of the center console to see if it's actually useful, as well maybe the trunk, but I especially wanted to see an up-close photo of the "surprisingly nice black leather" seating surface the writer mentioned. But oh well, these are minor omissions. Maybe I'm accidently comparing this to an "In the AutoBlog Garage..." review. Sorry. Great selection of exterior photos though. My first time seeing the Genesis in this color.

      In my opinion the styling works very well together, with one slight objection to the front. It's just a little too bland and generic. At the rear though I think they did a fantastic job. The car looks its best when viewed at an angle from one of the rear corners.

      A quick glance out back and you notice the dual exhaust tips are greatly complemented by the sculpted rear diffusor and give the impression that it's packin' heat. And even though the spoiler adds a little too much rice to the pot for my taste, I would still have to opt' for the top of the line 3.8 Track model. Yes, I find the spoiler a bit hard to swallow but hey, atleast it adds the upscale look of LEDs to the rear. But aside from that, the polished red Brembos definitely add a great deal of support to that perception of performance. Reminds me of how I thought the ones on my bros GTI were cool. Hah, his are just ordinary calipers with a coat of factory paint. The Genesis Coupe has the real thing. Great car overall in my opinion.

      About the interior:
      In instrument panels, aren't tachometers supposed to be on the left and speedometers on the right. I don't like how it's setup on the Genesis. I'll have to make a slight alteration to that once I get one...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks so .......1990's
        • 6 Years Ago
        There were lots of sport coupes that were available in the 1990s.

        I wish we could go back to that.
        FD RX7, Supra, 300ZX-TT, Stealth RT/3000GT, SVX, 968, BMW E36 3-series, and the 8-series V8 and V12 coupe... and others.

        I'll take 1990s over 1970s, which is where some of the rest of the automotive market is headed.
      • 6 Years Ago
      You guys must have driven a different Genesis Coupe than we did. One of the few times the four main editors/reviewers at Cars.com agreed on a car.

      Big disappointment. We tested both and it's not a $20K car. it starts at $23.

      It competes with everything, muscle cars, AWD sport compacts etc and doesn't beat any of them when similarly priced.

      I'd get a new Ralliart or WRX any day. You can get a stripped 370Z for around $30K too and it's a whole other experience.

      We're all scratching our heads witht he glowing reviews coming out on this one.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I didn't have any holier than thou attitude in my post. Just puzzlement. Relax.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Most of the editors at cars.com have a holier than thou attitude, just watch a few of the car reviews on Youtube. Disgusting.
        • 6 Years Ago
        So apparently because all of the reviewers there at the holy grail of ALL car reviews cars.com agreed on something, everyone else should too?
        • 6 Years Ago
        A Ralliart??? I have yet to read a single good thing about it (or any Lancer other than the EvoX).

        Don't see how it compares with the 2009 WRX.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Fully maxed out its about 3 grand less than a 370 with a sport package... no thanks.

      Either you get the turbo'd 4 or you go big and get the 370.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Too bad the 370z is ugly as sin though (I love my 07 350). I probably would still go for the Nissan though or pony up to a used CaymanS.
      • 6 Years Ago
      gen coupe kicks major a$$. i saw the blue one on i94 in chicago and it turned heads and it was just beautiful. i want one bad.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is like keeping a person on CPR after they been announce dead for 5 minutes, let GM go under. This is America, free enterprise, anti-government invention, that's what the founding fathers wants for all of us...look at Europe, full of lazy bunch, hospitals are full of kids with broken bones, cancer patients on waiting listsss...NO MORE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTIONS...ENOUGH ENOUGH is enough....AMERICA is a CAPITALISTIC society...WE"RE not here to INSURED THE MASSES...Each american must learn to insured themselve. WE are independent, strong, reliable, dependable...we can fix our own problems...government stay out.
        • 6 Years Ago
        What is your comment in response to?

        "Full of lazy bunch" ?
        "Hospitals are full of kids with broken bones" ??
        "Cancer patients on waiting listsss" ???
        "Each american must learn to insured themselve" ????

        ...not to mention grammar and spelling mistakes

        Can you please explain yourself? (I want another good laugh)

      • 6 Years Ago
      Seriously, what is wrong with GM and the American car companies as a whole.
      I live in Michigan and drive an AMG S class and I wanted to buy a Corvette or maybe even a new Camaro SS to help out the US automakers, but I could not pull the trigger because quite frankly the interiors are garbage. I was looking at Ebay also and I cannot believe the idiots that are bidding $42,000 for an SS Camaro when you can get a brand new Vette for the same price or less. Looking at the photos of this Genesis, you can clearly see that it has a superior interior to either the Vette or the Camaro and it is only $30,000. This is just depressing.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree completely. The Camaro would be a real option for me if it had a reasonable interior. I currently own a GTI, and could not take the step back down to the interior of an American car (with the exception of a new CTS). When will GM learn? News flash: To compete with imports, you must equip a car with a stylish and well finished interior. I wasn't crazy over the Genesis coupe's interior either, but it is at least clean looking and livable. At the very least, it is fitting of a car in its price range, and that is something you can say about precious few GM offerings.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I am seriously tired of people saying that the dashboard of a car is made of hard plastic. In the Camaro, it looks good from where you are sitting while driving. Maybe if you had to start the car by lovingly caressing the dashboard, then I can see a beef with it being a little hard. I drive a Pontiac with a completely soft touch dash, and it is crap to look at. But I guess if I ever get an urge to fondle my dash while driving along I will appreciate the fact that it is soft to the touch.
      JDM Life
      • 6 Years Ago
      A much better effort then any of the american autos are offering....

      Props Hyundai
      • 6 Years Ago
      One of the few points of remaining light in the new car lineup, as more and more cars get more and more pedestrian and appliance like, or ugly, or de-contented.

      It sounds like the track model needs only one thing... a different set of springs and dampers.

      I would not want to give up the anti-roll bars, limited slip, and Brembos, just for a softer ride, and changing out the dampers/springs is less parts change than differential, AR bars, and brakes.

      Then the only question is, the good but probably not-as-tuning friendly V6, or the under-tuned, but bigger potential inline 4 with turbocharging infrastructure in place.

      That car is so begging for a blacked out roof treatment, as well...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I like how you can't swing a dead cat without hitting trailer trash or Grandparents driving their Mustang GTs.

      "Wake up, Grandma...it's time to go buy your new Mustang GT."

      ,|,, Mustangs. Time for something new!

      • 6 Years Ago
      WOW this thing is UGLY...you got to be out of your mind if you pay $30K for this car. The Camaro V-6 is by far the better buy...pay a couple of thousand more and get the SS version that is blowing everything out of the water!This car would be a nice at $20K and down..then i may consider buying this for my teeneage daughter.
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