It’s been a long wait for fans of affordable and fun-to-drive rear-wheel drive machines with Japanese build quality and style. But thanks to Korean superpower Hyundai, the wait is over in the form of the Genesis Coupe 2.0T, a machine clearly built for young (and young at heart) automotive enthusiasts with a passion for technologies commonly associated with the ‘sport compact’ segment, like turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, nimble handling, sporty styling and a sub $30,000 price tag. The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T ticks off all those boxes and more, making it what’s likely to be an instant classic among the hardcore enthusiast and tuner crowds.
|1. As the name suggests, the Genesis Coupe 2.0T is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl with 210 hp and 223 ft-lbs of torque.
2. All Genesis Coupe models are rear-wheel drive and come standard with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission.
3. Pricing is just $22,000 to start.
4. A Track model gets Brembo brakes, a stiffer suspension and a limited slip differential.
5. Can also be had in a 3.8-liter 306 horsepower V6 version.
The fact that Hyundai has provided a selection of press photos that include images of the car drifting or power sliding and the fact that the company’s corporate website shows the car being thrashed on a race track should tell you a lot about who their target market is with the Genesis Coupe 2.0T. Think 18 to 35 year old males who follow the FormulaDRIFT racing series and want to have a little drifting or track day fun of their own.
Similarly, by equipping the Genesis coupe with a 2-liter turbocharged and intercooled inline-4 cylinder engine (sharing the same GEMA World Engine architecture as the engine found in the 291 horsepower Mitsubishi Evolution X), Hyundai is clearly trying to appeal to the ‘tuner’ crowd made up of hands-on owners who like to find ways of turning up the boost pressure for a little extra power.
Further indicating the Genesis Coupe 2.0T’s hardcore performance orientation is the availability of a Track model that’s equipped with a Torsen limited slip differential, big Brembo brakes front and rear, and suspension tuning including stiffer front and rear spring rates, larger diameter front and rear anti-sway bars and more aggressive shock valving.
This car looks the part too. “The mission for Genesis Coupe was to create a pure performance car with a design that would capture the imagination of hardcore automotive enthusiasts,” said Eric Stoddard, senior creative designer, Hyundai. “With its aggressive look from just about any angle, I think we have been able to do that.”
Admittedly it’s a design that bears a striking resemblance to the Infiniti G37, but that’s not a bad thing given the stunning good looks of that $40,000+ sports coupe. And Hyundai has definitely infused some unique elements into the Genesis Coupe’s design that give it a character all its own, like the way the bottom of the rear side windows drop down and the belt lines off the front and rear fenders play against each other. With attractive 18-inch or optional 19-inch alloy wheels set broadly at each corner, the Genesis Coupe 2.0T has a bold stance that matches the menacing grin of its front fascia. Sitting still or in motion, Hyundai has nailed the modern sports coupe look, which can only help its chances of succeeding with the fickle and fashion-conscious demographic they’ve targeted.
But does the 2.0T deliver the fun factor needed to entice the sport compact and hardcore tuner crowd away from popular but considerably more expensive rear-wheel drive options like the Nissan 370Z and Honda S2000?
With a MSRP of just $22,000 ($24,250 for the Premium model and $26,750 for the Track model), you can’t argue with the value it represents (the Nissan 370Z starts at $29,930 and the Honda S2000 at $34,995), and the corner carving and braking ability of the 2.0T is very competitive even against pure sports cars like these.
The Genesis coupe’s chassis is taut and responsive, with my only complaint being the over-boosted feel of the power steering and the delay in throttle response when shifting aggressively at the redline. Engine response is typical of a small displacement 4-cylinder turbocharged setup, having a sweet spot in the middle of the powerband where the turbo fully spools up and offers maximum boost pressure, but before 3000 rpm and after 5000 rpm power delivery feels a little flat. With 210 horsepower and 223 ft-lbs of torque motivating a 3,300 lbs machine, acceleration is brisk but doesn’t deliver the same sense of manic forward thrust you get from behind the wheel of a 370Z or S2000. Of course these are two-seater sports cars with considerably less mass and more power (and bigger price tags), so this comparison really isn’t a fair one.
And there’s the rub. The Genesis 2.0T really doesn’t have any direct competition to speak of. Rear-wheel drive sports coupes like the Infiniti G37 and BMW 335i are in a completely different price bracket and are aimed at a more upscale market segment, and as two-seater sports cars the 370Z and S2000 don’t have the versatility of the Genesis coupe’s usable (though tight for adults taller than about 5’10’’) back seat and comparatively spacious trunk.
Perhaps a better comparison would be similarly priced front-wheel drive turbocharged 4-cylinder machine like the Mazdaspeed3 ($23,410) or Dodge SRT4 ($25,470) or all-wheel drive turbo-4 options like the Subaru Impreza WRX ($24,995) or Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart ($26,690), but these don’t offer the sexy sports coupe styling or well balanced rear-wheel drive handling dynamics of the Genesis Coupe 2.0T. Although the front-wheel drive Honda Civic Si ($21,905) can be had in a coupe body style, it looks downright plain in comparison to the sculpted and athletic shape of the Genesis coupe.
It’s not without its faults, but the Genesis Coupe 2.0T is a machine with all the right ingredients to attract hardcore enthusiasts, especially those of the ‘tuner’ variety who will turn to the aftermarket for the growing number of bolt-on performance enhancing modifications available. But even if you just want an affordable and well put together sports coupe to commute to work in, with the optional 5-speed automatic transmission the Genesis 2.0T will get you there in comfort and style while delivering an EPA estimated 30 mpg on the highway.