With the video camera strapped to another Genesis Coupe just inches off my front bumper, I drop into second and hammer on the throttle mid corner to create a heroic moment.
|1. A 30% power increase for the 2.0T engine now makes for 274 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque.
2. The addition of direct-injection to the 3.8L V6 makes for 350 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque and a 0-60 time in the low 5.0-second range.
3. 2.0T models have a better power to weight ratio than the Scion FR-S, while the V6 model beats out the BMW 335i and Infiniti G37.
4. Added performance items include tighter steering and a three-stage stability control system.
5. Along with a new look and upgraded interior, the Genesis Coupe gets an up-rated price tag of roughly $2,000.
What happened next could politely be described as the result of an overzealous action on my part. A less polite description might simply say I was being stupid.
Instead of a dramatic power slide, the tail of my Tsukuba Red Korean sports car slaps right around, I spin, off-track and into the dust and rocks that line the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch outside Las Vegas.
My experience, while humbling, has also provided an opportunity to learn some important things about the updated Genesis Coupe. First, its upgraded engine now means it deserves some serious respect. And second, as much fun as the new three-stage stability control system is, off is most certainly off.
NEW LOOK CAN TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO
A lot has changed at Hyundai over the past few years. The Korean automaker’s vehicles have gone from being a third rate choice, to some of the best in the industry. The brand’s lineup now includes a long list of sedans and crossovers that are efficient, good looking, well priced and packed with value. Still, despite shocking the industry with the Genesis Coupe back in 2009, Hyundai is not known for building cars that are fun to drive.
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Another step in changing that perception comes with a model refresh to the rear-drive, two-door Genesis; with improvements as dramatic as was the introduction of the car itself into the Hyundai lineup.
Rather than just some new bodywork, the Genesis Coupe is almost a new car. The silhouette may have remained much the same but the Veloster-style nose with a large black opening, more angular headlights and sculpted hood make the car look less sleek, although decidedly more aggressive. Originally repelled by the new look, I already prefer it.
An updated fascia is, however, an expected mid-cycle upgrade. The engine updates are not.
DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE INCREASE
Starting with the 2.0T base engine offering, Hyundai has added a new twin-scroll turbocharger and a 50 percent larger intercooler. Power is up 30 percent, from 210 hp to 274. Torque rises as well, to 275 lb-ft, all of which is available at just 2000 rpm.
Playing with the turbocharged boost on the street is always fun, but on the track it was both surprising and disappointing to see that even with full boost at such low rpm, often the car was outside its ideal powerband and as a result plenty of shifting is required.
The added power does, however, make the 2.0T a legitimate sports car now. Whereas the old engine didn’t deliver enough grunt to really drive the car with the tail, there’s no such issue any more.
The power increase for the V6 isn’t quite as dramatic, but it almost doesn’t have to be. With the addition of direct-injection the 3.8-liter V6 now delivers a very serious 350 hp with 348 lb-ft of torque. With a curb weight of 3,483 (V6 manual), it has a better power to weight ratio that a BMW 335i or an Infiniti G37 and is good for a 0-60 time in the low 5.0 second range.
It should be pointed out that all of Hyundai’s power ratings are based on premium fuel. Both engines can be run on regular 87 octane, with slightly reduced numbers – 260 hp and 260 lb-ft for the 2.0T and 344/292 for the V6.
All of the models Hyundai supplied for the track test were either Track Pack or R-Spec cars, meaning that they came equipped with the larger 19-inch wheels with lower profile Bridgestone high performance rubber, stiffer springs (by about 10 percent), thicker sway bars (measuring 24 and 20 mm front and rear versus 23/19 on the standard package) and big 4-piston Brembo brakes with 13.4-inch front rotors and 13-inch rears. Also of note, these cars some with adjustable camber and Hyundai dialed in the angle to as much as negative two degrees to help deliver maximum grip in the corners. It’s nice that Hyundai let’s owners do this, but be warned that regular street driving with that much camber will lead to premature tire wear. All track cars were also six-speed manual units, though Hyundai now does also offer a new 8-speed automatic, replacing the previous 6-speed auto.
BACK ON TRACK
As much of an advantage as these optional goodies give, another upgrade on all cars is a tighter 13.8:1 steering ratio. It was greatly appreciated on the ultra tight road course, with plenty of hairpin corners requiring lots of steering to be dialed in. The Genesis now requires less effort to hustle through the twisties, though there’s still room for improvement. Of note, Hyundai is continuing to use an hydraulic power steering system on the Genesis Coupe; an admission that the electric power steering found in the rest of the Hyundai lineup is one of the brand’s true weak points.
A downside continues to be the shifter feel. It’s not in any way bad, but a tighter box with a more exact feel and a bit more weight would go a long way towards improving the driving feel.
Both cars come with strengths and weaknesses. The V6 powertrain is the real winner, and not just because of the added power, but because it’s so linear. The lighter 4-cylinder is, however, more tossable, with a slightly better weight balance. Steering also feels lighter. Hyundai has even added what amounts to an air intake noise generator, giving the V6 engine a great sound inside the cabin.
A bragging point for Hyundai is that the new 2.0T has an even better power to weight ratio than the Scion FR-S. The comparisons between the two should probably end there, however. As solid a car as the new Genesis is, it’s a more substantial vehicle and lacks the purity of the FR-S, which excels at communicating with the driver through the chassis and steering.
Along with the road course, there were opportunities to test the Genesis Coupe on a wet and dry autocross and it proved enlightening. Not only did it showcase the added power, but also the relative ease at which the car can be controlled when the back end starts to come around – that is, when you’re not driving like an idiot.
As mentioned before, for 2013 the car does get a three stage stability control system, with both a full-on and full-off setting, as well as a new traction control-off setting that will allow some shenanigans as there’s no cut to the power delivery when the car starts to slide.
Track time was, as always, limited, so the fade-resistance of the Brembos was never fully tested.
IMPROVED INTERIOR, INCREASED PRICE
What’s new for the Genesis Coupe doesn’t just stop at performance. Inside the cabin materials have been upgraded and are certainly better, though still won’t wow anyone. The single largest change is the redesigned center stack with a three-gauge display showing fuel economy and oil temperate on either side, with a center gauge providing a real-time torque output on the V6 and boost pressure on the 4-cylinder. Added upgrades include a telescoping steering wheel and an optional Blue Link telematics system on the high-grade 3.8 Grand Touring and Track models as well a the 2.0T Premium.
Outside, a new lineup of colors has been added, all named after racetracks or parts of tracks, including the stunning Parabolica Blue shown here.
Fuel economy is up, though not as much as one might expect. The 8-speed automatic delivers one more mpg on the highway for a rating of 20/31 mpg in the 2.0T (21/30 for the 6MT). As for the V6, it’s now up one tick in each category at 18/28 mpg for the automatic and 18/27 for the manual.
Performance does, however, come at a cost, and all these improvements have led to a substantial increase for the updated Genesis Coupe. The price of entry now starts at $24,250 – up $2,000 from before. An automatic model will cost you $25,500 with the R-Spec for $1,000 more. If it’s the V6 you’re after, starting prices begin at $28,750 for the track-ready but stripped-down R-Spec with the stick shift, with a big bump to $32,000 for an automatic model. Pricing tops out at $34,250 – roughly $5,000 less than a fully loaded Nissan 370Z.
Considering the significant upgrades made to the 2013 Genesis Coupe, the price hike is understandable. The car looks better inside and out, the power upgrade is impressive, plus, in a nod to enthusiasts and in an effort to further grow the car’s following, driving dynamics have been improved.
All these factors combine with the unique value packaging of Hyundai’s rear-drive sports car to make it not just a stand-out, but a stand-alone pick. True, in the entry-level range it doesn’t offer the purist appeal of the Scion FR-S, and in top-trim it’s still no G37, but in each comparison there are strong arguments to be made for the Hyundai, be it price, style or the fact that when compared to a car like the FR-S it has an edge when it comes to the level of sophistication.
In many ways the Genesis Coupe remains in a category all its own, especially amongst the Gen Y crowd, with Hyundai benefiting from a lack of competition from the Japanese and the fact that no one under the age of 35 wants to be caught driving a Mustang, or worse, one of those other two pony cars.