Sometimes, decisions in life can be tough.
Picture yourself with $30,000 just sitting in your bank account waiting to be spent on a shiny new performance vehicle. What do you do? Go for a lightweight, driver-focused machine like the Mazda MX-5 or Scion FR-S? Or maybe compact rockets like the Ford Focus ST and Subaru WRX are more your style?
But what if it’s a more traditional V6 powered, rear-wheel drive sports you’re after? Ford, Dodge and Chevy all offer V6 editions of the brand’s muscle cars, but these are tailored more towards the pedestrian than performance. That leaves Hyundai and Nissan.
SEE ALSO: 2016 Nissan 370Z Review
For just a hair over 30 grand after destination charges, a base Nissan 370Z or Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec can be acquired. Both cars come with big V6 engines, rear-wheel drive and a proper six-speed manual transmission.
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Liftback vs 2+2
There are some key differences though. The Genesis is a much larger car — it’s almost a foot and a half longer. This allows it to have a real backseat, unlike the 370Z. The Genesis also has a 10 cubic foot trunk, while the Nissan features a liftback design that is significantly smaller, only capable of hauling 6.9 cubic feet of cargo.
And for $30,000, don’t expect much equipment in either car. The Genesis Coupe arrived to the test sporting features not found in the 370Z like satellite radio, a telescopic steering wheel and leather seating surfaces. The Nissan counters with push button start, smart key entry and HID headlights. Although it’s a matter of personal taste, for my money, I’d gladly take the Hyundai’s old school twist key if it means I get a telescopic steering wheel.
Genesis Has the Right Parts
The R-Spec version of the Gen Coupe comes equipped with a lot of go-fast goodies. A Torsen limited slip rear differential, sportier suspension, larger brakes and 19-inch wheels are all included. Items similar to these can be had on the 370Z, but not at the $30,000 price point. To get them requires tossing another $3,500 into the air at the dealership to grab a 370Z Sport model.
Under the hood, Hyundai continues to bring the bacon. With a slightly larger 3.8-liter V6 engine, the Genesis makes 348 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. That’s 16 more horsepower and 25 more pound feet of torque than Nissan kicks out of its 3.7-liter V6. The Hyundai pulls with good authority through all the gears, backed by a nice V6 soundtrack, thanks to an intake resonator.
370Z Has the Right Moves
Despite having less power, the 370Z is the faster of the two cars in a straight line. That’s mainly because at 3,274 lbs, it is 249 pounds lighter than the Hyundai. Otherwise, the two V6 engines feel similar in their performance and power. The only real difference is the higher redline in the 370Z lets it scream a little more. Problem is, it can’t really be heard. In base form, the 370 is just too damn quiet.
The 370Z’s clutch is much heavier than the one in the Genesis and has a more abrupt uptake point. The shifter also requires more effort than the Hyundai’s, but the throws are shorter and each gear locks in more precisely. Plus, the 370Z is much better suited for smooth heel-toe shifting.
Who’s the Better Dance Partner?
|Vehicle||2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe||Advantage||2016 Nissan 370Z|
|Engine||3.8 L six-cylinder||-||3.7 L six-cylinder|
|Horsepower||348 HP||Genesis||332 HP|
|Torque||295 lb-ft.||Genesis||270 lb-ft.|
|Weight||3,523 lbs. 370Z 3,274 lbs.|
|Cargo Space||10 cubic feet||Genesis||6.9 cubic feet|
|Fuel Economy (US)||16 MPG city, 24 MPG hwy||370Z||18 MPG city, 26 MPG hwy|
|Fuel Economy (CDN)||14.4 L/100 km city, 9.5 L/100 km hwy||370Z||13.3 L/100 km city, 9.3 L/100 km hwy|
|Observed Fuel Economy||21.8MPG||370Z||22.4 MPG|
With less weight and a better front-to-rear distribution, the 370Z is the more tossable and fun to drive car of the two. Neither coupe offers incredible levels of grip, but both can handle a corner without issue and are wholly predictable. The 370Z is just a little more precise and quicker to respond.
The steering effort in the 370Z is lighter than the Hyundai’s, but as speeds build, it firms up and plenty of feedback from the road is transmitted to the driver’s hands. Steering feel, as always, is a bit numb and disconnected in the Gen Coupe.
But the lack of performance goodies does catch up with the 370Z. It can’t put the power down coming out of a corner the same way the Genesis can, since it’s missing the LSD. And the standard brakes on the Nissan don’t inspire much confidence during hard stops. The Gen Coupe is also more tail happy than the 370Z and allows for controlled sideways action when called for.
This, in large part, can occur since Hyundai has included a multi-stage stability control system on the Genesis Coupe that allows for the system to be fully disabled. Not only is this good news for those in love with opposite-lock, but it’s also welcome since the stability control system is a major party pooper. When it kicks in, it’s very aggressive and abruptly kills all engine power as it applies heavy braking, nearly killing all forward momentum. The 370Z’s stability control can’t be fully turned off in the base coupe, but at least it’s not as intrusive as the system in the Genesis.
Comfort and Style
Having been around since 2009 without any significant changes, the 370Z is becoming an old man in the world of sports cars and feels dated inside. The driver position isn’t as good as the Genesis’s mainly due to the lack of a telescopic steering wheel. I feel like I am straight-arm driving the Nissan at most times.
The 370Z’s front seats feel flimsy and the overall interior design isn’t as nice as the Gen Coupe’s. But since this is the base 370Z, it rides on smaller 18-inch wheels with higher sidewall tires. This helps to offer a softer ride that is much smoother than the bumpy Genesis.
But in terms of practicality, the Genesis Coupe wins hands down. In a pinch, it can fit four full-sized people. It’s not the most comfortable situation to be in, but a lot of other 2+2 coupes can’t fit adults in the back seats whatsoever.
The Verdict: 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe vs 2015 Nissan 370Z
Two similar cars yet, both take two very different approaches to performance. The Genesis Coupe is a better-rounded vehicle that offers more space and higher levels of practicality. If it’s going to be the only car in the driveway, it’s the better choice.
But if it’s a true sports car you’re after, get the 370Z. Like an ornery, out of date detective, the Nissan may have been around for a while, but it still gets the job done. Just don’t buy the $30,000 base model. It’s not worth it. Save up the extra scratch and get the 370Z Sport. The extra performance and enjoyment will remain long after the initial cost increase is long forgotten.
2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
2016 Nissan 370Z