2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Review: Good changes = Great improvements

After a day spent driving the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe on Nevada roads and on the track, there’s no doubt Hyundai gets it. Which isn’t something we say too often about big automotive corporations. Like the kid in the back of the class who may not participate much but absorbs everything, Hyundai pays attention all the time. And takes notes. It listens to customers, journalists, enthusiasts, and anyone who’s willing to give input on how the vehicles can be improved. Not only does Hyundai listen, it takes the critiques to heart then makes improvements.

The perfect example of this is the new Genesis Coupe. When CarBuzzard’s David Boldt reviewed the Genesis Coupe models, he noted that the engines were a bit underpowered and the fuel economy was lacking versus the competition.

For 2013 the Genesis Coupe models have received a handful of changes that addressed those issues and more, making them more competitive and appealing than ever before.

The most noticeable change is to the front end, where the Coupe greets the world with a more aggressive front clip. The new grille sports a large front opening, flanked by more defined headlamp clusters and a new hood shape with nostril-type accents. New LED DRLs are featured on the 3.8 GT and Track models, and there are LED accents on the foglamps that look great at night.

The Genesis also features sharp-looking revised rear combo LED taillamps as well. To finish the exterior, the wheels sport aggressive and quite appealing 18- and 19-inch wheel designs.

While the previous Coupe looked nice in a clean-cut Iowa teenager kind of way, the updated version has had a Cosmo makeover and, in the right color (black), has put on thigh-high stiletto boots, dark black eyeliner, and a plunging V-neck sweater. She’s grown up, and isn’t afraid to let you know it.

Inside the makeover continues, with upgrades in quality of materials, a new center stack design, and better tactile feel of all knobs and switches. Other standard upgrades include a tilt and now telescoping steering column, driver’s seat power lumbar adjustment, and the addition of Hyundai’s available telematics system, Blue Link®, to the 2.0T Premium and 3.8 GT and Track models.

Under the redesigned hood, Hyundai has seriously beefed up the engines, starting with the previously anemic 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC inline four cylinder. While it’s still a single turbocharger, it features a twin-scroll design, which means the turbo can run more efficiently, is more precise and also reduces emissions. A more efficient turbo when combined with a large increase in horsepower (up 30 percent to 274 on premium fuel) means more grins each time you tap the throttle. Hyundai powertrain engineers matched the turbo to a considerably larger intercooler as well. Torque also gets a 23-percent boost, to 275 lb-ft on premium fuel. And because the Coupe equipped with the 2.0T weighs about 3,300 pounds, it delivers a respectable 12.3 lb/hp ratio, besting the soon-to-be-released Scion FR-S and also the Honda Civic Si.

For those looking for even more, the 3.8-liter V6 Lambda engine also receives performance upgrades, including direct injection, Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing, and a variable intake system for improved fuel delivery and better breathability.  The engine’s 10.0:1 power-to-weight ratio is lower than both the Infiniti G37 and 2012 BMW 335i. It also boasts more horsepower than those two competitors, now with 348 (up 42 hp) on premium fuel. Torque is also stronger, at 295 (up 29) also with premium fuel.

Hyundai continues to position itself as a fuel economy leader, bragging that 33 percent of its overall sales mix features models with 40 mpg. For the new Genesis 2.0T Coupe, even with the tremendous boost in power, it remains at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway on regular or premium fuel. The 3.8-liter V6 with more power and now mated to the 8-speed transmission goes up to 18 mpg city and 28 highway.

Speaking of the new 8-speed automatic transmission, the Genesis Coupe is the first in its segment to feature one. It’s been tuned to provide smoother shifting, more direct feel, and an efficient ratio spread, and is nicely matched to the bump in power. Standard with the 8-speed is the Shiftronic® system, along with easy-to-reach and use paddle shifters. Hyundai also improved the feel of the 6-speed manual tranny, as well as reduced the clutch pedal effort and engagement range for a more precise feel.

More changes to the Coupes include suspension and handling dynamic upgrades, such as optimized shock dampening, spring rates, and stabilizer bars. Hyundai also added an intermediate setting to the stability control program where engine power isn’t cut so drastically if you want to have a little more fun but not turn off the system altogether.

Added performance fun comes in the form of available Brembo brakes on Track and R-Spec models. The 4-piston monobloc fixed calipers, large swept area and vented rotors provide maximum braking power for the quick braking force needed on high-speed racetracks. And trust us, there are plenty of Genesis Coupe owners out there having fun on the weekends at racing venues all over the country.

There are six Coupe trim levels, and all come in below the competitively spec’d competition, and with more standard features. The 2.0T engine can be had in the base model (starting at $24,250), the R-Spec model ($26,500), and the 2.0T Premium model ($28,750), which adds features like a 360-watt Infinity sound system, pushbutton start with proximity key entry system, Power sunroof, and navigation system with a large touchscreen and Blue Link.

The 3.8 also offers three versions: 3.8 R-Spec ($28,750), 3.8 Grand Touring ($32,000), and 3.8 Track ($33,000) Throw the 8-speed automatic onto the Track model, and you’re looking at $34,250, which, when compared to the Infiniti G37S, is a savings of around $10K, with more standard features and a longer warranty. Throw in Hyundai’s trade-in value guarantee, and it would be a tough decision to walk away from this offer in the showroom.

Now that you know all the basic info, all that’s left is to talk about the driving experience. We had a chance to drive the Genesis Coupe with the new 8-speed automatic, 6-speed manual, and 3.8 Track series, and our overwhelming opinion was impressive.

While we would like to see more low-end torque, the 3.8-liter V6 with the added power was fun to drive on the smooth roads of Red Rock Canyon in the Nevada desert. A climb up a few thousand feet on the way to the Spring Mountain Raceway highlighted the Coupe’s capability to perform without huffing and puffing up the hills. On the track, we liked the way the 3.8’s power felt balanced, and the gears were so well spaced, we easily made it all the way around the circuit quickly in third gear; going up to fourth on the straights not because we had to, but because we chose to do so.

Steering also was nicely weighted, and the suspension setup was tuned perfectly for the tighter turns on the course. There were no surprises; we never felt as if the Coupe was having trouble maintaining a set, even during the short drop on an early kink that grew progressively more fun each time we looped the track.

We took the 2.0T around a few laps as well, and while it was also balanced, we’d choose the predictability of the 3.8’s powertrain and added punch every time.

Hyundai also set up an autocross course to let us have some fun trying to get the best time of the day on the half-minute loop, but where most manufacturers tell us to keep the ESC on, the evil (or fun-seeking, depending on how you look at it) pro-drivers had it switched off and then threw water on the track to make it more difficult in a rear-drive vehicle. While the skids were imminently catchable, it just shows that really knowing how to drive a car quickly is more about finesse than it is about pure power.

Two of the biggest pet peeves about any coupe are the lack of rear seat leg room and the inability to enter and exit gracefully. Although the rear seat leg room is still nothing to boast about in the Genesis two-door, ingress and egress were surprisingly easy.

As we said before, Hyundai gets it. After 25 years in the U.S., and a continual gain in market share, product improvement, owner loyalty, brand value, dependability, warranty, and quality, it’s hard to see it any other way.

Photos courtesy of Hyundai Motor America and Team Killeen.