The development process behind an automobile differs slightly from company to company, but when it came time to render the 2010 Genesis Coupe 2.0T, it seems Hyundai engineers sat down with a Oujia board and channeled the spirit of Toyota's old AE86 Corolla. Laugh all you want, but ask yourself--when's the last time you've seen an affordable import sports coupe that didn't send power to the front wheels?
While the six-cylinder Genesis Coupe may have premium GT aspirations (both the Infiniti G37 and BMW 3-series are benchmarks), we prefer the premise behind the entry-level 2.0T. Simply put, it's a sharp, inexpensive, rear-wheel-drive coupe that, with a little work, can become whatever you want. Much like how the AE86 is still revered by track stars, gymkhana kings, and drift masters, Hyundai expects the Genesis Coupe to serve as a tuner's blank slate.
With four variations of the four-cylinder car alone, Hyundai--which ironically code-named the Genesis Coupe "BK"--truly allows you to have it your way. Those on a shoestring budget obviously will look at the base 2.0T model, which carries an amazingly low price tag of $22,750, including destination. That price point throws it into the same arena as the Mitsubishi Eclipse ($20,249), Nissan Altima Coupe ($22,470), and, for a while anyway, the Pontiac G6 Coupe ($24,800). As always, the Hyundai comes with a long list of standard features (Bluetooth, satellite radio, and an USB audio input are but a sampling), but one--rear-wheel drive--remains unique.
Hyundai says that rear-wheel drive will become a hallmark of the Genesis "sub-brand," but few components on the 2.0T model are shared with the luxury sedan, apart from the five-link independent rear suspension. The Coupe still uses a strut-type independent front suspension, but the dual-link design, reportedly lighter than the sedan's five-link setup, is unique to the two-door.
So too is the exterior form, which is quite a departure from the conservative Genesis. Critics may deride the Genesis Coupe's form as aping the new Nissan 370Z or Infiniti G37, but it actually draws most of its inspiration from the HCD-8 concept shown in 2004. In person, the Genesis Coupe looks wider and more emotive than its competitors, thanks to angular fenders and a unique drop-down window opening behind the doors. The interior's design motif departs from the sedan's as well. Although the dash pad may have a nice feel to it, the premium materials found in the Genesis sedan are used sparingly, if at all. We do, however, find the bucket seats nicely bolstered, and in certain models, nicely trimmed.
Motive power comes courtesy of an all-aluminum, 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 mounted just aft of the front axle. The engine produces 210 hp and 223 lb-ft at 2000 rpm. A Hyundai-developed six-speed manual transmission is standard, and the automatic option is an Aisin five-speed rather than the ZF six-speed in the six-cylinder Genesis Coupe 3.8.
The turbo-four provides a fair amount of power, but delivers it in a very sedate manner. Acceleration lags until the turbo spools, but even then, you're not thrown into your seats by a wall of torque. Speed gradually accumulates until you reach the upper echelons of the tachometer, where the little engine that could runs out of steam. You'll want to avoid those areas of the tach, as the engine grows buzzy and slightly coarse (our tester's shift knob vibrated incessantly) as it nears redline.
Sadly, power doesn't increase if you opt for the 2.0T Track model, but the ride stiffness does. Hyundai cranks up the front and rear spring rates by seven and eighteen percent, respectively, and adds a Torsen limited-slip differential. The only visible elements of the Track package are 19-inch aluminum wheels (with summer compound tires) in lieu of the standard 18-inch units; a rear-deck spoiler; and large, red, Brembo brake calipers.
All that hardcore equipment suggests the base car isn't a handler, but that isn't the case. The car remains sharp and taut through corners, although there's little, if any, feedback given through the steering wheel. The ride is generally compliant over most broken road surfaces, but the car feels slightly harsh over expansion joints. Little wind noise permeates the Coupe's cabin, although there is a surprising amount of road noise transmitted.
Still, we're thinking additional sound insulation won't be the first modification most buyers spring for. In fact, Hyundai's offering a "tuner-ready" R-Spec model this summer that offers even less content. R-Spec cars will come with all the go-fast goodies offered on the Track, but won't include things like fog lamps, Bluetooth, cruise control, and the trip computer. The R-spec's $23,750 sticker is $3000 less than a 2.0T Track, leaving more room within a buyer's budget for upgrades.
Regardless of which flavor you choose or modifications you install, there's plenty about the Genesis Coupe to like. It's an affordable, attractive sports coupe, with the unique appeal of rear-wheel drive. Only time will tell, but we imagine this Hyundai could someday be revered by the tuner crowd, much like the AE86.