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2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe ReviewThe Good
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is sprightly with either engine and nearly begs to be thrown into the nearest corner without leaving your pockets feeling empty.The Bad
A bit more refinement in the suspensions and 6-speed transmission would be a wonderful complement to the redesigned interior the 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe got.
The CarGurus View
Hyundai is heading in the right direction, and the improvements to the Genesis Coupe for 2011 show it's not just looking for a one-shot entry into the sport coupe market. With continual improvement, especially to the 4-cylinder’s turbo and the 6-speed manual transmission, the Genesis Coupe could be a real contender. With some serious reengineering to the suspension setups, it will surely be.
At a Glance
A few short years into its lifespan, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is getting some slight revisions for 2011. The self-proclaimed BMW killer has offered some unique trim packages in its history and this year is no exception, with 2.0T Track and base 3.8 trims falling away in favor of a new, stripped, 3.8 R-Spec trim.
Little else has changed for the front-engine/rear-wheel-drive coupe, and that’s a good thing. With V6 and turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplants, the Genesis Coupe still offers a bit of flexibility within a narrow class, and does so with performance that would suggest a much higher price point.
With several different available engine and transmission combinations, finding the perfect setup takes some time. There have been criticisms about nearly all the options, from excessive turbo-lag in the 4-cylinder and a sloppy, imprecise feel from the 6-speed manual to a desire for more power from the V6. All are valid concerns, although some more exaggerated than others. Perhaps it’s unfair to deal the Genesis extra slack due to its underdog status, but a lot can be said for both engines. Yes, there is turbo-lag to be dealt with in the 4-cylinder. Yes, the 6-speed manual is every bit as sloppy as reported. If these are major issues, go with the 3.8-liter V6 with the proven ZF 6-speed automatic. The standard paddle shifters bring out the fun, and a more aggressive rear axle ratio of 3.73 vs. 3.54 with the manual should also help ease the pain a bit.
Still, either engine is a fine choice. Despite the lag, the 4 still manages to produce 210 hp and 233 lb-ft of torque. You don’t get the option of the 6-speed auto here, rather you’ll get the 6-speed manual or a 5-speed auto, capable of returning 21/30 mpg or 20/30 respectively. With the 3.8-liter V6 jumping up to 306 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, the drop to 17/26 with the 6-speed manual and 18/26 with the ZF 6-speed auto is not surprising. At least all setups require nothing more than regular-grade gasoline.
Ride & Handling
For all its aims and goals, the Genesis Coupe is not a BMW killer. Hyundai may claim that was the bar for which they were aiming, but they’ve fallen short. It’s not to say the Genesis Coupe isn’t capable. It is. But there is an abrupt and definitive lack of refinement that will never allow the comparison. The fact that it simply can’t keep up even on a strictly performance level only adds to the disappointment.
This is not to shoot the Genesis Coupe down completely, as the car can turn. As suspensions get stiffer and tires get larger, culminating in the 3.8 R-Spec trim, the vehicle gets stickier and stickier. Unfortunately as the good gets better, the worst gets worse. Even in its base setup, the Genesis Coupe can handle most corners with eager willingness, but bumps will reverberate harshly throughout the chassis and steering column. As things get tighter, they only get worse. The 3.8 R-Spec trim is most capable through the turns, but is almost undriveable on the street.
Cabin & Comfort
Dials and gauges are well-placed and easy to read. The layout is simplistically graceful and conducive to aggressive driving. So why hasn’t the Genesis Coupe’s cabin received more praise? Perhaps it’s simply because of the comparisons with its bigger brother the sedan, whose similar cabin is simply a more elegant and upscale affair. Hyundai downgraded the interior for the Coupe originally, taking out trim and leather from most setups, and left things looking rather stripped. Side by side with the sedan, the Coupe looked a bit generic. Taken on its own… well, it still looked a bit generic. Substance over style, it seems. For 2011 the interior has been redone with new trim and faux-metal accents as well as an increase in fabric and soft-touch materials over the hard plastics that dominated the cabin previously. It’s a welcome and substantial upgrade to the overall feel of the Coupe.
Seats provide a good combination of comfort and control, with adequate side bolstering for as much turning as the Coupe will allow. Rear seats are predictably near-useless, but a wonderful and welcome surprise comes from the Coupe’s visibility, which surpasses similar models due to large rear and rear quarter windows. Engine noise never crosses over into annoying, but tire and road noise will permeate at nearly all speeds.
While all Genesis Coupes come with standard safety features like six standard airbags, four-wheel antilock discs, brake assist, stability and traction control, certain trims get a bit more. The 3.8 Grand Touring trim for instance, comes with a rear-obstacle detection system, while the 2.0T R-Spec gets upgraded brakes that carry over into the 3.8 R-Spec and Track trims.
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to release test results for the Genesis Coupe under its new procedures, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded the Genesis Coupe a Top Safety Pick award for 2011, with a Good rating in all categories - its highest level.
What Owners Think
With the Genesis Coupe’s price and performance, there’s a strong following of loyal owners for which the little 2-door can do no wrong. For those used to a bit more refinement in their sports cars, the Coupe is lacking a bit. Too much jostle and jump in the sport suspensions simply leads to fatigue over distance. Many aren’t familiar with turbo-lag, a symptom too easily overcome with a bit of tech, and the sloppiness of the 6-speed is simply disappointing. However, there are few complaints about the V6/ZF setup, and for those who are looking for straight performance, comfort is rarely a dissuading issue.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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