I went to the Hyundai stand on Level 3 of the Javits Center at the appointed press conference hour of 3:50 p.m., only to find it deserted, with a big sign saying that the unveiling of the Hyundai Genesis coupe was being held in the Riverview Galleria. By the time I arrived in this large, high-ceilinged, glassy space overlooking the Hudson, the two Genesis coupes had already come screeching onto the huge stage, rear tires smoking to drive home the fact that this is a REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE coupe, not just another front-wheel-drive pseudo sports car from across the Pacific.
The smoke was still hanging heavily in the air of the Galleria, but another journalist assured me that it was not all from the cars; instead, Hyundai availed itself of some special effects smoke machines. Sure, it was all contrived, but it made for some of the better theatre during this main press day of the 2008 New York Auto Show, which has heretofore been lacking in drama. John Krafcik, the former Ford engineer who is the architect of Hyundai's product renaissance in the United States, was holding forth on the stage when I arrived, dressed super-casual in jeans, open-necked shirt, and blazer and expounding on the incredible performance bargain that the Genesis represents. In doing so, he looked back in the history books, noting that, in the 1980s, the Porsche 928 was the only production car available with more than 300 hp, and it cost much, much more in inflation-adjusted dollars than the Genesis will. Further comparisons were made with the 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin-Turbo, which Krafcik claimed would cost about $60,000 in today's dollars. The point, as they say, was made. After the speeches were done, the crowds swarmed over the two cars on the stage. Or were they swarming over the tables of free hors d'oeuvres and the open bar? It was hard to tell above the din of conversation and the rock band set up at one end of the room, blasting out covers of Billy Idol and Queen.
See our coverage of the Genesis coupe here.