Long before we saw the Hyundai Genesis Coupe in the flesh, word of the vehicle's arrival flittered around the web with tantalizing persistence. Few rumors manage to get the enthusiast world licking its chops quite as well as one with a potent V6 in the nose of a rear-wheel-drive two-door. Editors began salivating at the thought of a performance coupe renaissance, complete with all of the associated front-page comparos, while forums lit up with threads detailing hypothetical grudge matches between the would-be Korean prize fighter and hardware from the Nissan 370Z to the then-upcoming Chevrolet Camaro V6. Hyundai had clearly rustled up some snakes.
Then the Genesis Coupe debuted, and while ingredients like available Brembo brakes and a limited-slip rear differential pointed to the possibility of a genuine contender, it's fair to say the coupe never really became a top-flight prospect for many enthusiasts. A vague gearbox and similarly detached brakes sapped precision from the platform, consigning it to a mid-pack finish in our three-way Battle of the Sixes comparison test back in 2010.
None of this is news to Hyundai. The company began planning ways to sharpen its first genuine sports car nearly as soon as the vehicle debuted at the 2008 New York Auto Show. For 2013, the two-door receives a dose of the automaker's patented love-it-or-hate-it styling as well as a host of mechanical improvements tucked behind the polarizing aesthetics. Are the changes enough to give the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe the fangs it needs to thrive in the cutthroat performance coupe world?
It's difficult to miss the changes to the nose of the Genesis Coupe. Designers slathered elements of the familial Fluidic Design language all over the front valance, complete with a hexagonal grille, aggressive HID headlamps with available LED daytime running lights, new fog lights and even a new hood with faux air inlets. The new face has more than a passing resemblance to the gaping maw found on the Veloster. While the Genesis Coupe's profile has remained unchanged, new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs are now available. Likewise, the aft of the Coupe will be plenty familiar to the model's fans, though brilliant new LED taillamp displays help give the model a significantly more upscale look.
We know the styling isn't going to garner many wolf whistles in traffic, but from where we sit, this design is a much-needed departure from the somewhat generic lines of the first-generation model. There will be no forgetting the face of the 2013 Genesis Coupe, and the striking face draws eyes with a quickness.
Hyundai has also given the Genesis Coupe's interior a much-needed update as well. The dash is now decorated with a simulated stitched-seam cover up top, and an all-new center stack helps move the coupe out of 1999 and into the present. Controls are still easy to find and manipulate, but designers have thrown in a welcome sporty touch with the addition of three analog gauges. The dials convey a variety of information depending on what's lurking under the hood. Both the Genesis Coupe 2.0T and 3.8 feature fuel economy and oil pressure gauge, and turbo models boast a boost gauge in the center while those with a V6 make use of a torque meter.
It would be easy to dismiss the gauges as gimmicky were it not for the actually useful oil pressure telltale. While the display isn't exactly in an easy-to-read location, it's far better than the quad gauges found low in the center console on the Camaro. Check out the Short Cut below for a look at how the gauges function in real time.
Hyundai hasn't stopped with a nose job and a refreshed dash, however. Both the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the 3.8-liter V6 now boast more power than before while utilizing the same basic architecture. Engineers have graced the 2.0-liter with a new, more efficient twin-scroll turbocharger and an intercooler that's half-again as large as the piece on the outgoing model. Combined with dual continuously variable valve timing, the engine now pumps out 274 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 275 pound-feet of torque at an incredibly low 2,000 rpm on premium fuel. That's a 30-percent increase, if you're keeping track.
Don't feel like pouring premium in the tank? Not a problem. The engine is equipped with knock sensors that work in conjunction with the variable valve timing to allow the vehicle to run on regular unleaded gasoline. Expect a reduction in power, however. Running on 87 will net you 260 hp at 6,000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. With its cast-aluminum block and cylinder head, the engine is also plenty light weight. When equipped with a manual transmission, the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T tips the scales at 3,362 pounds.
Speaking of transmissions, buyers can mate the feisty four-cylinder with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a new-to-the-line eight-speed automatic. The gearboxes help this version of the Genesis Coupe net 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway in manual guise and 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with the automatic in place.
And what of the 3.8-liter V6? Hyundai equipped the DOHC six-cylinder with a direct-injection fuel system, which helps bump power output by a considerable margin. The engine now generates 348 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 rpm. That's 42 more horsepower than the previous generation and 11 percent more torque. With the extra power on hand, the Genesis Coupe 3.8 boasts a weight-to-power ratio of 10 pounds per horsepower. As Hyundai points out, that's better than heavy hitters like the BMW 335i Coupe and the Infiniti G37 Coupe.
The revised 3.8 can be bolted to either a six-speed manual gearbox or the eight-speed automatic. Buyers can expect to see 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway out of models equipped with the manual gearbox, while automatic adopters will enjoy one more mpg in highway driving.
Interestingly enough, both the Genesis Coupe 2.0T and Genesis Coupe 3.8 enjoy similar weight balance, with the turbo model serving up a 55:45 balance front to rear to the brawnier V6 version's 56:44. As always, the Genesis shuttles its power to the rear wheels. Buyers who intend to put it to use on track will want to opt for the Torsen limited-slip differential available in both the Track and R-Spec packages. The option group also throws in seven-percent stiffer spring rates on the MacPherson strut front suspension and 11 percent stiffer rates on the five-link rear. Beefier stabilizer bars are also part of the mix, offering 1 mm in additional diameter front and rear over the base Genesis Coupe.
Just as before, Track and R-Spec models wear Brembo brakes at all four corners. Four-piston calipers squeeze 13.4-inch ventilated discs up front and 13-inch ventilated rotors out back. That's a sizable upgrade compared to the 12.6-inch front discs and 12.4-inch rears on the base vehicle.
More importantly, Hyundai has factored in a certain level of customization on both Track and R-Spec models. Owners will receive front strut camber adjustment bolts that allow adjustment of up to 1.5 degrees of negative camber. With a little tweaking, drivers should be able to tailor the front suspension for more response and less understeer at the cost of premature tire wear.
We were fortunate enough to be able to sample both the Genesis Coupe 2.0T and Genesis Coupe 3.8 on the road and in various track conditions. On the streets in and around Las Vegas, both vehicles offer crisp acceleration paired with a suitably stiff suspension. Hyundai estimates it takes the 3.8 V6 a little over five seconds to reach 60 mph. Expect the 2.0T to take a bit longer.
Longtime followers of the Genesis Coupe will be happy to know the six-speed manual transmissions in both applications have been hugely improved. Gear changes are considerably more precise, and while the shifter itself has a soft, economy-car feel to its action, the gearbox only gave us trouble under hard hammering from third to second on track. On the street, swapping gears was as second nature as it should be. Clutch take up is properly progressive with good feel and an appropriate throw.
Likewise, the new eight-speed automatic transmission does a smart enough job of swapping cogs for you if that's your bag. Wheel-mounted paddle shifters allow the driver to click through gears quick enough, though don't expect to be able to hold a gear all the way to the rev limiter. Even in "manual" mode, the system upshifts the second the engine hits red line. Leave the gearbox to its own devices, however, and shifts are suitably smooth and well-timed.
Unfortunately, there are still some specters of the old Genesis Coupe floating about the cabin. While the leather-wrapped steering wheel looks right at home in a sports car, steering feel is still a bit too numb for our tastes. Turn the nose toward a track, and other issues rear their head. Despite building torque at an admirably low 2,000 rpm, the turbocharged four-cylinder takes its sweet time arriving at full thrust. Don't get us wrong, the twin scroll turbo has significantly diminished lag, but if you want to be quickest out of every apex, you'd better not let the tachometer fall too far south.
The good news is the 3.8 doesn't suffer from the same ailment. The engine builds power in a beautiful, linear swell, and while the majority of power and torque is at the top end of the rev band, we found it easy to wring serious speed out of the engine quickly. Hyundai wanted the Genesis Coupe to be more involving for 2013, so engineers incorporated a sound enhancer in the engine bay. A tube runs from the intake straight to the firewall, transmitting the associated howl of the V6 past 3,500 rpm straight indoors. The effect is delicious without the aggravating drone of a "performance" exhaust, and we found ourselves looking for excuses to bury the throttle as a result.
The Track and R-Spec models we sampled all came with some very capable stopping hardware, but the brakes were held back by a less-than-confidence-inspiring pedal. In order to take full advantage of those massive Brembo rotors and calipers, we had to plunge well past what we typically think of as an appropriate amount of pedal pressure.
It should be said that for all of our complaining, there's a lot to love about the 2013 Genesis Coupe. Both the 2.0T and 3.8 are amazingly controllable vehicles. Hyundai provided us with some time on a wet autocross course, and with traction control and stability control fully off, the vehicle turned into a tail-happy giggle machine that relishes nothing more than kicking into long, beautiful slides. We aren't exactly masters of the drift, but the 2013 Genesis Coupe makes us think we could quickly get the hang of things with a little more practice.
Speaking of the traction control, it's worth noting that the Genesis Coupe allows drivers to choose their own level of nannying. The Coupe's default setting keeps both traction and stability control engaged. Press the TCS button once, and traction control falls off, leaving stability control to keep the ham fisted away from the point of no return. Those with a little more confidence can hold the TCS button for another four seconds and stability control will disengage as well.
When Hyundai first unveiled the 2013 Genesis Coupe, the company aimed to give Infiniti G37 Coupe buyers something to think about. While we wouldn't put the Korean two-door on the same page as the G37 just yet, the newest refresh goes a long way toward putting the Genesis Coupe within striking distance of the luxury bruiser. The upgraded interior, serious bump in power and suspension tweaks all make the Genesis Coupe more attractive than ever, and while the platform still has its bugs, this two-door remains a performance bargain.
Prices start at $24,250 for a Genesis Coupe 2.0T with a six-speed manual transmission, plus $850 for destination and handling. Opting for the eight-speed automatic will cost buyers an additional $1,250, though if you're buying, spend the cash for an R-Spec model. With its upgraded brakes, limited-slip differential and adjustable front suspension, the R-Spec trim is well worth the $2,250 Hyundai asks over the base 2.0T.
Drivers can hop behind the wheel of a Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec for $28,750, plus the same destination fee. For comparison's sake, a less powerful Nissan 370Z will cost you $31,910 without a limited slip differential.
For buyers who aren't concerned with the badge on the hood or squeezing every last tenth out of a road course, the 2013 Genesis Coupe is a solid buy. While it may lack some of the precision of more storied sports car lineages, it offers an inarguable performance-for-the-dollar value.