By Steve Schaefer
San Leandro Times
Hyundai, and its sister division, Kia, have been on a happy upswing for a while now. I like to think that they took Toyota and Honda as the models of success, although whether there’s an actual correlation between the two Korean brands and the two Japanese ones is debatable.
The first Hyundai in the U.S. was the Excel. It wasn’t a very good car, but it was cheap, and you got what you paid for. But the cars have gotten progressively better and better, and more attractive, too. The people at Hyundai studied the Japanese models just mentioned. So today, you have the excellent Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio at the bottom, the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte a step up, then the midsize Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. All are doing very well, thank you.
But what about moving upward? What about delivering more performance and luxury? From Hyundai, you can get the Genesis sedan or coupe. Think of it as a Korean Lexus — or Acura. But, unlike those two esteemed brands, there is no separate showroom. You can go into any Hyundai dealership and pick one up today.
I just spent a week with the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, specifically the 3.8 R-Spec. It impressed the heck out of me with its mighty 3.8-liter 348-horsepower V6 driving the rear wheels. That’s 42 more horsepower than the ’12 model, and there’s 29 more lb.-ft. of torque to go with it.
There’s also a turbocharged 2.0-liter four available. It provides 274 horsepower (a 30-percent boost over the previous engine) and 274 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines run on regular gas, too, and have tuned exhausts so you feel racy rolling down the road.
The solid shifter action on the six-speed manual reminded me of a Nissan 370Z I drove not long ago. The clutch was a little tricky, with quick take-up, so I stalled it a few times at first. If you opt for the optional automatic, it’s an 8-speed Shiftronic with paddle shifters. Hyundai developed it themselves; and, based on their other successes, it should be a winner, too.
Who would think you could get this kind of entertainment from Hyundai? The Genesis sedan exudes Mercedes-like elegance, but this coupe is a brawler — with 348 horsepower. That’s more than many Corvettes historically offered with V8s. And I averaged 20.4 miles per gallon with all this power, too. The official EPA average is 21 mpg, with 18 City and 27 Highway.
The styling of the Genesis Coupe is right for the market. Other than an unusual dip in the rear side window, it looks perfect — with the little extra twist that Hyundai is adding to their newest cars. The ’13 gets several mid-cycle updates, including a more aggressive front fascia, with new headlights, foglamps, hood, and a grille that bears a family resemblance to the new Sonata and Elantra. The taillamps and daytime running lights get stylish LEDs. There are new wheels, too.
Inside, there’s a redesigned center stack, power driver-seat lumbar support, a telescoping steering wheel, and all the surfaces have gotten an upgrade for appearance and texture. The shifter has an appealing angularity and feels good in the hand. The seats, standard red leather in my 3.8 R-Spec, hold you close as you speed down your favorite winding back road.
The optional Blue Link Telematics package offers high-tech extras like voice text messaging, Point-of-Interest (POI) web search download, turn-by-turn navigation, and monthly vehicle reporting. You can push a button and talk to an agent, much like the well-known OnStar system.
Of course, the Genesis Coupe has the long list of safety features you expect in modern cars. It offers Electronic Stability Control standard, but recognizing that some driving enthusiasts don’t want an “electronic nanny,” you can turn it partially or completely off for certain driving situations. Of course, it’s better to leave it on during normal driving.
There are three models with each engine, from the 2.0T at the lower end through the R-Spec and Premium models and the R-Spec, Grand Touring and Track versions with the 3.8 liter V6.
My Becketts Black tester mysteriously did without automatic climate control, which is probably standard in the Sonata, and the USB port is tucked away in a teeny little cubby up front — nice, but without enough room for the iPod, which has to hang out in one of the console cupholders.
The price came to $29,625, including shipping, putting it in the middle of the Genesis Coupe line-up. The 2.0T with 6-speed manual starts at $25,125 while the top-level 3.8 Track with 8-speed automatic runs exactly $10,000 more.
It’s a great world of sporting goodness out there. Genesis is an appropriate name — this is a new beginning.