2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec first drive review: R-e-S-P-E-C-t

2013 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec 2.0T

Hyundai’s 2013 Genesis Coupe: A rebirth in affordable performance.

With roughly eight months left ‘til Ford officially takes the covers off of its all-new Mustang, those in hot pursuit of the next-gen pony car could do worse than making a stop at a Hyundai showroom. And if falling backward in laughter (remember, your boss is watching) at the notion of the Koreans building a credible ‘Stang substitute, one lap of a long block could/should/would start an internal debate. At the wheel of Hyundai’s aggressively refreshed 2013 Genesis Coupe, our debate started at the steering wheel, continued thru the clutch and throttle, and concluded somewhere near the seat of our pants. As the Hyundai’s tach approached the Coupe’s redline the debate continued to rage…evolving into a veritable right brain/left brain wrestling match.

As originally conceived, Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe – which shares little but name and V6 powertrain with its larger 4-door sibling – was an attractive shape enclosing a competent platform. Sure, when equipped with the available V6 the Hyundai was adequately quick, but not really well-connected to the road. And if you had opted for the standard turbocharged four, its relatively coarse demeanor couldn’t/wouldn’t compensate for its (relative) lack of horsepower. Happily, with modest – albeit comprehensive – upgrades to the ’13 Genesis Coupe, the view (and action) from behind the wheel is exponentially better, creating a sports coupe deserving of both your attention and dollars.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec Interior

Genesis Coupe’s functionality adds to the fun.

Although the Coupe’s overall appearance remains Infiniti-like, revisions to the front fascia reduce the similarities, while the architectural ‘dip’ between the ‘B’ and ‘C’ pillar is a more expressive take on the Infiniti-like profile than Nissan’s. In terms of proportion and stance we like most of what this sporty Hyundai offers, while thinking the 111-inch wheelbase makes it look slightly dachshund-like (probably for a semblance of rear seat legroom…). The Coupe’s 19-inch alloys, shod with 225/40 (front) and 245/40 (rear) series rubber, fill the wheelwells nicely, helped in no small part by the just-right ride height of the Hyundai’s ‘track-tuned’ suspension. With its new front fascia the front perspective is good, while the Coupe’s expressive rear flanks remain very good. And with either 274 horses under the hood (with the upgraded 2.0 turbo four) or 348 (the upgraded, direct injection V6), most of what other drivers see will be the Genesis’ expressive flanks.

Inside, an interior combo Hyundai calls simply ‘black/red’ is a reasonably good- looking take on current coupe architecture. Neither its design nor execution will be confused with that coming from Audi or Volkswagen, but neither will its material, appearance or execution dissuade you from its consideration. We liked the gauge package, HVAC controls and logical/intuitive audio functions, but still felt there remained too much ‘plastic’ plastic as window stickers approach $30K. The Coupe’s buckets, with a textured/expanded cloth insert and leather bolster, hold you in place, while not penalizing you with difficult ingress/egress.

Your connection to the Coupe’s entertaining dynamic is excellent, with a right-sized steering wheel, progressive clutch and reasonably good shift linkage. And while ‘reasonably good’ may sound like way less than perfect, today’s linkage is a huge improvement over what Korea, Inc. has typically delivered. We liked it, and would probably buy the stick were the Genesis our own.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai benefits from an aggressive refresh.

On the road, we were only slightly disappointed by the Coupe at low speed, and absolutely delighted/intoxicated when traffic conditions allowed us to ‘open it up’. Like many platforms tuned for high speed competence, the Genesis feels slightly cumbersome/awkward at a walking pace. That awkwardness goes away completely as you gain speed, and when north of 70 mph is completely forgotten.

If ‘on it’ with any frequency, know that your efficiency will suffer. With a 21 City/30 Highway/24 Combined EPA rating, we achieved just over 21 in a combination of stop-and-go around town and tromping on the highway. This is a platform fully capable of 25+ miles per gallon at (reasonable) sustained speeds, or roughly 15 mpg if you insist on abusing it. This is no better/worse than its ponycar competition, but don’t buy the turbo four thinking its more eco-sensitive; we’d argue it’s only efficient in its nomenclature.

While referencing Mustang in the intro, Hyundai sees the competitive set as Scion’s new FR-S and Honda’s well-regarded Civic Si. We’ve been big – and vocal – fans of the Scion since before its intro, but the small coupe is way down on power compared to either variant of the Genesis Coupe. And the Civic Si, available for roughly 15% less money, seems to supply but 50% of the fun. At the end of the day, we’d strongly consider both Scion and Civic – but probably pop for the Hyundai.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T? With apologies to Aretha, that’s what the product team at Hyundai has earned from me…

Specifications continued on next page.