One of the few bright spots in what has been a bleak, anxious period for the auto industry has been Hyundai. Last year, the Korean automaker made a clean break from its econocar roots with the Genesis, an honest-to-goodness luxury sedan that took home North American Car of the Year honors. More recently, it let journalists drive the Genesis Coupe, a sport compact-cum-pony car that might just crash the new Mustang and Camaro's coming out parties. The ink hasn't even dried yet on those driving impressions, but that's not stopping Hyundai from revealing its next moves, namely, a racing program and more importantly the Genesis Coupe R-Spec.
The R-Spec, which is being unveiled this week at the Chicago auto show, is no fire-breathing GT500 or SS slayer - at least not from the factory. Hyundai says it intends the R-Spec "to appeal to true enthusiasts who want a low starting price and the ability to tune their car to their own specifications." One look at the MSRP of $24,500 confirms the car's budget-enthusiast aspirations. But to really understand the R-Spec, you need to look at its spec sheet, which reads like a lurid romance novel for both import-tuners and weekend racers. Included are the 210-hp turbocharged four cylinder, six-speed manual, Brembo brakes, limited-slip differential, and 19-inch summer performance tires from the more expensive Genesis Coupe Track model. Gone is anything Hyundai deemed "non-essential convenience equipment," including Bluetooth, automatic headlights, cruise control, trip computer, chrome interior accents and steering wheel audio controls. Don't ask for an automatic transmission, either. Mind you, with power windows and locks, keyless entry, and a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, it's still better equipped than a loaded Accent, but the purist intent is clear.
With such a blank slate, potential owners are sure to wonder: Will modifications and/or racing be covered by "America's best warranty"? Um, no.
"Any modification could potentially void the warranty, like any other manufacturer," said Hyundai spokesperson Miles Johnson. So don't bring your slammed R-Spec to a friendly Hyundai dealer in 2019 and expect to get a free replacement for the engine you grenaded.
At the same time, Hyundai says it's going racing, or more precisely, drifting. Rhys Millen, the rally driver and drifter who in the past fielded a Pontiac GTO and Solstice, will now be artistically roasting the rear tires of a 550-hp Genesis Coupe.