Thursday, November 12, 2009

Test Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Pt.2

Genesis Coupe part two?  Indeed... I decided to take the advice of @hyundainews and head back out to our local Hyundai dealership to give the Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track a go, considering that I was less than impressed with the standard 2.0T automatic (MSRP: $23,250).  Anyway, I will be keeping things brief again since there's only so much that can be said about a car when you're just taking it for a test drive.

Today's ride was a powder blue 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track model (MSRP: $29,500) producing 306HP at 6300RPM, 266ft.-lbs. of torque at 4700RPM, and weighing in at somewhere around 3389lbs.  The exterior styling of the Track models is pretty much the same as that of the standard Genesis Coupe, aside from the fail-tastic wing on the trunk deck.  The quality of the interior is somewhat better than the standard Coupe, with leather seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel... and lots of hard plastic.  The steering wheel still has an almost stippled feeling texture to it, rather than the usual smooth leather wrap that I'm accustomed to, and sitting in the back seat still provides one with ample opportunity to study their own lap.  It's good to know that they didn't change too much with that extra $6,250 otherwise I might have thought I was getting into the wrong car. ;-)

So... what did they change?  Well there's the engine [duh], jumping from a 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 to a 3.8L V-6, you get "sport tuned" suspension, a set of Brembo brakes, a Torsen limited-slip differential, and some 19" wheels in place of the standard 18's.  The best part is that all of the additional kit that the two Track models include... er, well, most of it anyway... really does transform the Genesis Coupe for the better.  The upgraded brakes, for example, scrub off speed quickly and do so without requiring excessive effort on the part of the driver.  While the braking system doesn't seem nearly as sensitive as some (e.g. modern cars from BMW, WV, Audi, etc.), the feeling of pushing on a block of wood rather than a brake pedal that I noted with the standard Genesis Coupe's braking system is completely gone in the Track models.  The sport suspension does add some harshness to the car's ride but not nearly enough to actually cause discomfort when driving around on typical, worn California surface streets.  Since this car didn't have an alignment/wheel balance issue, I was able to better appreciate the responsive and precise steering that the Genesis Coupe brings to the table.  Vehicle turn-in was crisp, and the absence of significant body roll under cornering contributed substantially to driver confidence--at no point did the Coupe really give the impression that it would bite you for being a less than perfect driver.  It is this tameness in city driving, however, which may sully the driving experience for many a car enthusiast.

Now, before I attempt to explain that last remark, there are a few quirks that I would like to address... the first of which being the clutch: Hyundai may as well have used a damned on/off switch!  The clutch pedal felt as if it only had about three inches of throw, the last inch of which did absolutely nothing (you could literally tap on it with your foot, feel it flapping around, and nothing happened).  With so little functional throw, the engagement point came and went very quickly and, when combined with the overly eager accelerator, made attaining smoothness during the drive somewhat tricky.  Peaky might be a good word for describing the engagement feel, despite being light.  In contrast, the '00 BMW M Roadster that I'm used to driving around has about a mile and a half of clutch pedal throw (okay, about 6"...which is probably excessive) and presents a fair amount of resistance through the entire throw.  I haven't yet worked out if this is simply a trend in newer cars or if it's specific to the Genesis Coupe, but I'll be sure to find out with more dealership hopping.  So, yes, take that bit of criticism however you like because I may be crazy.  Thankfully, though, the Genesis Coupe's 6-speed manual gearbox is outstandingly smooth (almost too much so, since I tend to prefer a little notchiness), delivering short, effortless gear changes.  The touchy throttle made rev-matching an interesting endeavor but it's probably safe to assume that the drivetrain can handle the added strain while one gets used to things.

So, at a price hovering around $30,000, would I buy a new Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track?  No, no I wouldn't.  While it does produce 66 more horsepower than my current toy and match it in 0-60mph acceleration time, it certainly didn't feel like it when puttering around town.  Only when I pushed the Coupe, brought the revs up, started braking harder, and cornering more quickly than one should on the street did it really start feeling like a fun, sporty car.  The rest of the time, I may as well have been driving a Honyota Camord.  It's like a sports car that's pretending to be a bland people-mover unless you're thrashing it--this approach doesn't make sense to me.  Obviously, I am exaggerating a bit to get my point across but, damn it, give me a car that puts a smile on my face no matter what I'm doing with it!  I'm not asking for the impossible here...

Should you consider checking out a Genesis Coupe if you're in the market for a sporty 2+2?  Absolutely.  My complaining aside, it's not a bad car at all... provided that you get a model that's not an automatic and includes the upgraded brakes, suspension, and limited slip diff.  From my point of view, the base model Coupes don't really have enough to offer without the Track pack goodies and the loaded Track models are a bit much for what you're getting.  Solution?  Wait a few months for the R-Spec model to start popping up on dealer lots--it's basically a standard 2.0T that has been stripped of bells and whistles and equipped with the performance parts from the Track pack.  The R-Spec Genesis Coupe is expected to have an MSRP of $23,750.

See, I got through that whole thing without mentioning $20k used E46 M3's and C5 Z-06's... oh, wait... :-p