Pros: Excellent handling, compliant ride, comfortable and supportive seats, outstanding value, distinctive yet classy styling.
Cons: Engines leave us wanting more, interior quality could be better.
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is Hyundai’s first sport coupe that really works. In case you’re not up on the history, here’s a brief recap. In the beginning there was the Scoupe, which was based on the misleadingly named Excel and boasted all of 81 horsepower when it debuted. Then came the Tiburon, which kind of looked like a Ferrari 456 at one point but otherwise didn’t leave a lasting impression. Hyundai knew it had to knock its next attempt out of the park-and with the stylish, capable Genesis Coupe, it’s done precisely that.
So what’s the Genesis Coupe’s secret? Well, it starts with the quality of its underpinnings. Rather than base the car on a lame front-wheel-drive econobox, Hyundai went right to the top and borrowed the rear-wheel-drive platform of the Genesis luxury sedan. This sedan isn’t known for its athleticism, of course, so Hyundai’s suspension wizards had to work their magic. But work it they did. From our first drive in the Genesis Coupe, we’ve been struck by how nimble and tossable this car feels, as if it was designed from the ground up to compete with the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G37s of the world.
Heady praise, right? Well, maybe we went a little overboard there. The Genesis Coupe’s entry-level 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 is pretty weak, frankly, compared to the rear-drive competition, and even the 3.8-liter V6 has more bark than bite. Major engine upgrades are in store for 2013, so we recommend waiting for that model if speed is something you’re after. Also, the interior isn’t nearly as nice as the much pricier BMW’s, though it’s competitive with those of cheaper rivals like the Mustang.
Ah yes, pricing. This is where we tell you that the Genesis Coupe starts in the low $20,000s with the turbo four and stays in the mid-$20,000s for the stick shift V6. It’s an incredible value, really, given the Genesis Coupe’s ability to keep up with some serious performance machines through the corners. We’re looking forward to next year’s power bump, but until then, we’ll continue to sing the praises of Hyundai’s first legitimate sporting car.
Comfort & Utility
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is offered in two different ranges separated by engine type. The four-cylinder 2.0T comes in base, R-Spec and Premium trims, while the 6-cylinder 3.8 comes in R-Spec, Grand Touring and Track trims.
The base 2.0T starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlamps, cloth upholstery, a tilt-only steering wheel, air-conditioning, a trip computer and a six-speaker audio system with iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
The 2.0T R-Spec gets a number of performance-oriented upgrades, including 19-inch wheels with performance tires, Brembo brakes with larger discs, a limited-slip differential, a stiffer suspension and special front-seat side bolsters. However, it lacks automatic headlamps and cruise control.
The 2.0T Premium ditches the R-Spec’s performance goodies in favor of a sunroof, a power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, a navigation system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and a 10-speaker, 360-watt Infinity audio system.
The 3.8 R-Spec is similar to its 2.0T counterpart, except that it gets standard fog lights. The 3.8 Grand Touring builds on the 2.0T Premium’s equipment with leather upholstery and heated front seats. The 3.8 Track essentially combines the R-Spec’s performance upgrades with the Grand Touring’s luxuries, also adding xenon headlamps and a rear spoiler.
The Genesis Coupe’s front seats get different upholstery depending on trim level, but the basic feel remains the same, and that’s a good thing. T-hese are great chairs, boasting strong lateral support and just the right mix of support and squish for long hauls. The tilt-only steering wheel would ordinarily merit a slap on the wrist, but the Genesis Coupe’s wheel somehow manages to satisfy a wide range of physiques, so Hyundai gets a pass on this one.
The Genesis Coupe’s gauges are a bit overdone, in our opinion, peering as they do out of deep cylindrical hoods. The central controls are rather button-heavy, but they’re well marked and easy to get used to. Materials quality is competitive for a coupe in the $20,000-30,000 range, but it’s not an example of Hyundai "over-delivering" as it’s been doing in other segments, so folks looking to downsize from a 3 Series wouldn’t be impressed. We do very much like the Genesis Coupe’s low-slung driving position and sloping center stack, which impart a sense of sporting purpose even when you’re just driving to the local mall.
The Genesis Coupe’s back seat is basically unusable for adults due to a lack of headroom-plan on employing it as a cargo shelf for the most part. Trunk space is a smallish 10.0 cubic feet.
We like that iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity are all standard on the entry-level Genesis Coupe 2.0T, so even if you just want performance on a budget, you’ll still have plenty of options for all your portable electronics. The optional navigation system uses Hyundai’s familiar touchscreen interface. I-t’s reasonably intuitive, but we’d like to see more visual flair given how expressive the car is in general. We’ve not been impressed by the treble-heavy sound quality of the Infinity audio system. You might consider saving your money and having an aftermarket system installed.
Performance & Fuel Economy
The rear-wheel-drive Genesis Coupe 2.0T is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 rated at 210 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a six-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic. We’re not big fans of the automatic, as it seems to rob the turbo four of some of its potency, but let’s be honest, -there’s not a lot of potency here to begin with. Also, this engine sounds more like a household appliance than a piece of performance machinery.
Best to get the 3.8-liter V6, then, as it churns out 306 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque with a satisfying baritone exhaust note. This isn’t a thrilling high-performance engine-it’s less about the high-rpm rush than the burly midrange-but it’s satisfactory for the price. Either the six-speed manual or the optional six-speed automatic with paddle shifters will do just fine. In fact, we might prefer the automatic due to the manual’s overly protective engine software, which unceremoniously cuts power after hard 1-2 upshifts.
Fuel economy for the 2.0T is 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway with the manual (20/30 mpg with the automatic), while the 3.8 drops to 17/26 mpg with the manual (17/27 with the automatic).
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe comes with standard stability control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, active front head restraints and six airbags (front, front-side, full-length side-curtain).
Neither the government nor the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the Genesis Coupe.
The Genesis Coupe isn’t a small car, but clever suspension tuning makes it feel compact and nimble on winding roads. Body roll is minimal, and steering response is very good. The ride is reasonably compliant, at least by performance-coupe standards, though road noise can be intrusive. Hyundai benchmarked the G37’s dynamics during development, and we’d say they hit the bull’s-eye. Our only reservation is that the engines and transmissions don’t feel like they’re on the same level. We’ll see what we think of the 2013 upgrades.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW 128i – Our favorite affordable BMW is more refined than the Genesis Coupe, but we like the Hyundai’s looks better, not to mention its superior value.
Ford Mustang – The surprisingly quick Mustang V6 competes on price with most of the Genesis Coupe lineup, and watch out-the Genesis 3.8 model can crest $30,000, which is 400-plus-horsepower Mustang GT money.
Nissan 370Z – The Z is quicker and more capable, no doubt, but it’s less pleasant to live with on a regular basis, and the Genesis Coupe 3.8 makes more endearing noises during spirited acceleration.
We’d take the base Genesis Coupe 3.8 with, yes, the automatic-and we wouldn’t be too happy about having to skip the manual due to that weird power-cut problem.