Chances are, you're not going to see Jeremy Clarkson blubbering over the 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe on the BBC's "Top Gear." A Genesis Coupe just doesn't have the right kind of TV smarminess, the kind of thing you get from seeing a Bugatti Veyron race against a jet fighter. But if you forget the media hype for a moment and focus on the value presented by performance cars that you can actually afford, the Genesis Coupe turns out to be, as Clarkson might say, "absolutely fabulous."
Though it shares its name with the larger Genesis luxury sedan, the Genesis Coupe is a considerably different type of car. It follows the basic formula for a high-performance coupe with its sleek styling, rear-wheel drive and a pair of small backseats. Hyundai's traditional strengths factor in, too, as the Genesis Coupe is pretty well equipped, comes with a long warranty and has an affordable price tag.
Of course, it takes more than just rear-wheel drive and a generous warranty to make a sport coupe an enticing proposition. Thankfully the Genesis Coupe has the goods to back it up. There are two engines to choose from: a 210-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 306-hp normally aspirated 3.8-liter V6. With either power plant the Genesis Coupe provides some of the best handling you'll find in a sport coupe, with precise steering and plenty of cornering grip.
That said, you'll still want to check out some other choices as well. The most obvious competitors are the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro, 2011 Dodge Challenger and 2011 Ford Mustang. All offer available V8 power, and the revised 2011 Mustang in particular is hugely impressive. You could also look at the premium-branded BMW 1 Series or Infiniti G37 Coupe or the 2011 Nissan 370Z. Among all these cars, though, the Hyundai is a worthy choice for a real-world performance coupe, even if you won't see it doing powerslides on "Top Gear."
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a performance coupe available in six trim levels: 2.0T, 2.0T R-Spec, 2.0T Premium, 3.8 R-Spec, 3.8 Grand Touring and 3.8 Track.
The base 2.0T comes standard with 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, keyless entry, tilt (but not telescoping) steering column, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, trip computer, Bluetooth and a CD/MP3 stereo with USB/iPod connectivity and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
The 2.0T R-Spec loses a few minor convenience items (such as cruise control) but adds 19-inch wheels with summer tires, Brembo brakes, a more firmly tuned suspension and a limited-slip rear differential. The 2.0T Premium loses the R-Spec's performance hardware and instead comes with a sunroof, automatic headlights, power driver seat, keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic climate control, an upgraded audio system plus a navigation system.
The 3.8 R-Spec is equipped similarly to the 2.0T R-Spec but has the V6 engine. The 3.8 Grand Touring is similar to the 2.0T Premium but also has heated outside mirrors with turn signals, a rear parking sensor, leather seating and heated front seats. The 3.8 Track is equipped similarly to the Grand Touring and also gains xenon headlights and the R-Spec's performance-related equipment.
The cabin of the Genesis Coupe boasts an alluring mix of eye-catching contours and generally high-quality materials. The dash's swooping curves flow into the door panels, although this interesting design requires an unconventional orientation for the power window and mirror switches.
The driving position is excellent (especially with the available power seats) and offers abundant outward visibility despite the low-slung seating position. However, the lack of a telescoping steering wheel means that a driver with shorter legs might find the wheel uncomfortably close to their chest. The controls are generally intuitive except for the standard iPod interface, and despite being an upgrade, the Infinity audio system generates only mediocre sound.
The front seats are superbly shaped for both enthusiastic driving and long-distance cruising. The rear seat, though, is strictly for kids and cargo. The 10-cubic-foot trunk is surprisingly useful, particularly with the rear seats folded down, but the folding procedure requires an awkward reach deep into the trunk.
The rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis Coupe is powered by either a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine (in 2.0T models) or a 3.8-liter V6 (in 3.8 models). The four generates 210 hp and 223 pound-feet of torque, while the V6 pumps out 306 hp and 266 lb-ft. For the 2.0T, Hyundai offers either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic with manual shift control. The R-Spec is manual only, and the Premium is automatic only. For the 3.8 models, there's the manual or a six-speed automatic, also with manual shift control.
EPA estimated fuel economy for the 2.0T is 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the manual transmission. When the automatic transmission is chosen, these numbers change slightly to 20/30/23 mpg. The V6 models have a 17/26/20 mpg rating with the manual, and the rating improves 1 mpg for EPA highway when the automatic is selected. In Edmunds performance testing, a 3.8 Genesis Coupe with the manual went from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds; the 2.0T takes a second longer.
On the road, the 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is notably impressive for its excellent body control, responsive steering and sophisticated ride quality. R-Spec models and the 3.8 Track offer even better handling thanks to their tuned suspension and stickier tires, though this does come at the expense of some ride comfort. Acceleration from the turbo four-cylinder is merely adequate for this segment, but the big V6 delivers brisk acceleration and a pleasantly throaty soundtrack.
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe comes standard with stability control, antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, active front head restraints and full-length side curtain airbags.
In government crash tests, this Hyundai earns five stars (out of a possible five) for driver protection in frontal impacts. For front passenger protection it earns four stars. Five stars were awarded for driver side-impact safety. In Edmunds brake testing, a 3.8 Track model stopped from 60 mph in an impressively short 111 feet.
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe features improved interior materials, including padded door armrests, softer leather for the leather-wrapped steering wheel and more chrome accents for the instrument panel. There's also a new trim level, the Genesis 3.8 R-Spec, which has the reduced feature content of the 2.0T R-Spec trim but with the 3.8-liter V6 engine.