Hyundai introduced its Genesis coupe in 2010 as a traditional rear-wheel-drive performance car for the budget-minded. Since then, the carmaker has refined its design philosophy and given the 2013 Coupe styling and horsepower updates — for both 4-cylinder and V-6 models — to keep pace with the rest of the Hyundai line.
Appearance: The Genesis keeps its muscular look and "fluidic sculpture" styling, but gone is the small grille that looked like a leftover from the Hyundai parts bin. In its place is a much larger hexagonal blackout grille similar to Hyundai's Veloster. The hood gains character with airstream creases and faux air scoops, and the taillights are now upswept and of the LED variety. Lyra finds the new grille too gaping and unflattering; Peter likes the bolder look. We both liked our R-Spec's 19-inch alloy gunmetal wheels and the dual chrome-tipped exhaust. When last we drove a Genesis Coupe, it came in shade-your-eyes-neon Lime Rock Green. Now it appears that Hyundai has toned down its choices to more mainstream colors.
Performance: Our Genesis Coupe had the 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo that gets a horsepower boost to an impressive 274 — how's that for bang for your 4-cylinder buck? (The V-6 gets pumped up from 306 horsepower to 348.) There also is a new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddles in the Genesis, although our tester had the six-speed manual. The turbo is quick to kick in with minimal lag, and makes for some high-revving fun. That said, we'd probably opt for the V-6 for more low-end grunt. The sport-tuned suspension of the R-Spec makes for a firmer ride and the handling is generally taut, but we found the steering feedback a bit numb. Our real problem was with the stiff manual transmission. We found it too easy to throw into the wrong gear and never really felt comfortable with it. On our tester, there also was a vibration in the shifter under hard acceleration. Maybe ours was an isolated difficulty?
Interior: Our R-Spec trim had sharp red-leather seats and door panels. There is a mix of materials and textures as you might expect at this price point, but Hyundai does a good design job with the dash and gauge clusters to give drivers a look and feel that radiates "sports car." Lyra didn't like the mesh inserts in the seats, which she felt could snag on sequined or beaded fashions or accessories. For shorter drivers, pulling the low manual seat adjuster to move the seat far forward puts you too close to the steering wheel, which is now telescoping. Peter found the headroom and legroom adequate for a low-slung coupe — up front. But the rear seats are best suited for kids and shorter adults.
Our 3 favorites
Grille: I like the bolder look. When competing with cars like the Mustang and Camaro, it's go big or go home.
Wheels: The 19-inchers are really sharp and are set off by red Brembo brake calipers.
Power: More is better.
Shift knob: Slender and ergonomic.
Options: Three 4-cylinder trim levels, and three V-6 trims.
Exhaust note: Listen to it howl as you rev it up.
The bottom line: There's a lot of competition in the under-$30K sports-car class, and the Genesis Coupe offers enough trim levels to compete. We'd like to try the new V-6 and the 8-speed automatic.