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2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Test Drive Review
Of the quartet of rear-drive sports coupes on sale today, and among the variations that I’ve personally sampled, this 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec is my favorite one to drive.
When people go shopping for a rear-drive, 4-passenger sports coupe, the Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang are the primary contenders. Few people add the Hyundai Genesis Coupe to that list, either because they’ve dismissed it or they don’t realize it exists in the first place. That’s a mistake, because this car is a genuine blast to drive.
Look and Feel
Thanks to a recent test drive of a 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost, I have a newfound appreciation for the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. You see, the Mustang sure looks cool, but now that I’ve spent a week driving the Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec, my opinion is that this Hyundai is what the Mustang could have, and should have, been.
We’ll get to the reasons why in the next section of this review, where I’ll discuss driving dynamics. In terms of styling, the Ford is more appealing than the Hyundai, but the Genesis Coupe still looks pretty good. Though this car’s design dates to 2010, it still looks terrific, especially with my 3.8 R-Spec test car’s 19-inch aluminum wheels.
The R-Spec is the midlevel Genesis Coupe, the lineup of which also includes a base Genesis Coupe 3.8 ($27,645) and a Genesis Coupe 3.8 Ultimate ($34,295). For 2015, all versions of the car have a 348-hp, 3.8-liter V6 engine, because Hyundai has discontinued the previously available turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine.
Upgrading from the base 3.8 to the 3.8 R-Spec ($30,395) adds 19-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in staggered-width, Bridgestone Potenza RE050A performance tires measuring 225/40 up front and 245/40 in back. A “track-tuned” suspension is included with this model, along with Brembo performance brakes, a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, and sport seats with cloth inserts and leather bolsters. You also get a front camber adjustment bolt, just in case you decide to put this version of the Genesis Coupe on a track. By the way, the R-Spec comes only with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Painted Empire State Gray, my test car’s dark paint helps to disguise the gaping maw that is the Genesis Coupe’s grille. As you may have guessed, I’m not a fan. But I like the remaining lines on this car, and even the fake hood scoops. A friend commented on the color of the wheels, saying that they looked like the equivalent of all-white running shoes. Given modern consumer preferences for darker finishes, he’s right, but the R-Spec’s polished silver wheels didn’t bother me.
Hyundai doesn’t sell many Genesis Coupes, so my test car drew attention wherever I drove it. I noticed this because, from the driver’s seat, outward visibility is outstanding. Plus, the Genesis Coupe’s interior is relatively conservative compared to other sport coupes, favoring simple and purposeful instrumentation as well as muted textures and tones; there is little here to distract a serious driver from the task at hand.
Honestly, I’m rather surprised by how much I enjoyed driving this aging sports coupe.
Before Ford introduced the redesigned 2015 Mustang, and based on what I’d been reading about the car, I expected a smaller, lighter, less ponderous, and more performance-oriented pony car. Don’t get me wrong. The new Mustang is impressive on many levels, easily better to drive hard and fast on real-world roads than either a Chevy Camaro or a Dodge Challenger. But from a dynamic perspective, it isn’t the car it should have been. Not without its optional Performance Package, anyway.
Of the quartet of rear-drive sports coupes on sale today, and among the variations that I’ve personally sampled, this Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec is my favorite one to drive. In fact, during my week with the car, I was looking for reasons to get behind the steering wheel, offering to run errands for my wife, taking the long way home, and wringing the V6 engine for all it was worth (when safe, of course). Any driving enthusiast with a $30,000 budget and a need for a couple of rear seats for occasional use will adore driving this Hyundai, but for one flaw.
Toss a Genesis Coupe R-Spec onto a freeway on-ramp with speed, or down your favorite set of switchbacks, and the stability control gets a little nervous, kicking in when it's really not needed. Hyundai says the Genesis Coupe is equipped with a 3-stage stability control system, but the driver’s choices are traction and stability control on, traction control off, and traction and stability control off. There is no way to keep stability control on, but to make it less intrusive.
In any case, the momentary interruptions of fun cause occasional irritation.
Otherwise, in R-Spec trim, the Genesis Coupe is taut, responsive, easy to drive fast, and capable of covering ground in exceptionally rapid fashion. Clear outward visibility in every direction definitely helps to boost a driver’s confidence, as do the car’s crisp steering, sharp reflexes, impressive grip, and stout Brembo braking components.
One thing I discovered when driving the R-Spec with enthusiasm is that the nose tends to push wide. Dial in some trail braking as you turn into the corner, and the front tires grip better. Get on the gas at the apex of the turn, the weight transfers to the wider rear contact patches, and the car rockets down the next straight section of road. It’s a thrill.
The 348-hp, 3.8-liter V6 engine sounds great, revs freely, and feels like it has a limitless well of power. I enjoyed rowing the 6-speed manual gearbox, too, and while it is easy to stall the car in first gear, with time the driver acclimates to the hair-trigger clutch. Also, if you possess the ability to heel-and-toe downshift, the Genesis Coupe’s pedals are set up for that.
Where a Ford Mustang EcoBoost mops the floor with this Hyundai is with regard to fuel economy. While my Genesis Coupe averaged 19 mpg in mixed driving—exactly what the EPA says it should—I got 23.2 mpg from the Mustang. Heck, during a test of a Mustang GT, my fuel economy average was 18.6 mpg.
You know what? I’d still rather drive the Hyundai, in part because I can actually see out of it.
Form and Function
Walk up to a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, pull the rickety door handle, and the cheap sound made by the door latch as it releases is instantly off-putting. Get inside, and you find a mixture of materials that reflect upscale attention to detail, such as fabric-wrapped windshield pillars, combined with assembly quality that’s no longer acceptable in entry-level vehicles, like a poorly affixed plastic gearshift surround.
Now, I’m not an expert in automotive economics, but if I were Hyundai, I’d spend a few extra bucks resolving issues such as these, as they make for poor first impressions. Then again, anyone who’s spent any time inside of a Camaro might mistake the Genesis Coupe for a luxury car.
Hyundai does a good job of laying out the car’s controls, grouping similar functions together and providing the driver with simple knobs and buttons, all clearly labeled for easy reference and use. A trio of gauges bisects the center part of the dashboard, the most interesting of them a torque meter purporting to report the amount of twist the engine is making at any given time. The speedometer and tachometer are easy to see and reference, too, but they ought to swap locations, because when the driver looks at the speeds most often traveled, those on the outer left portion of the speedo, it looks like the car is traveling at a slower speed than it really is.
While the R-Spec’s performance seats were quite comfortable and did a great job of holding me in place while taking corners with speed, the bottom bolsters dug into my outer thighs when cruising on the highway. It wasn’t a big deal, though, and honestly, it’s my own fault for carrying an extra 50 pounds of body mass. Front passengers don’t get the same manual seat height adjuster that the driver enjoys, but the omission isn’t necessarily a cause for complaint.
Adults won’t be happy in the Genesis Coupe’s back seat. The cushion is high off the floor for good thigh support and this car offers more useable legroom than the new Mustang does, but the rakish roofline really cuts into headroom. To fit, I needed to lean in toward the center of the car. Shorter people will accept riding in the back for short trips, but nothing more.
Trunk space measures 10 cubic feet, enough given that only 2 people will want to spend any significant amount of time inside this car. The rear seatback folds down in a single piece to expand room, but the height of the resulting pass-through is only about a foot, limiting utility.
Aside from Bluetooth connectivity and an iPod/iPhone connector cable incompatible with my iPhone 6, my Genesis Coupe R-Spec was devoid of modern technologies. I paired my phone to the car, made and received calls, and streamed iTunes and Pandora without trouble.
If you upgrade to the Ultimate trim level, the Genesis Coupe is equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system including navigation and a 360-watt, 10-speaker Infinity premium sound system. I was fairly satisfied with my R-Spec test car’s less sophisticated 170-watt, 6-speaker setup. Although bass was a little boomy, it handled Jack White and “Lazaretto” at moderate volume and without losing too much composure.
Ultimate models also come with Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system. Three levels of service are available, including the Connected Care Package, the Remote Package, and the Guidance Package. All three are free of charge for the first 3 months of ownership, and Hyundai extends Connected Care services for a full year.
Highlights of the Connected Care Package include automatic collision notification and SOS emergency assistance, while the Remote Package adds a car-finder smartphone app and several useful features designed to help parents keep younger drivers safe. They include pre-programmed curfew and speed alerts, as well as an alert if the car is driven beyond prescribed geographic boundaries or joy-ridden by a bored valet. This package also includes stolen-vehicle slowdown and recovery capabilities, so if you’re a car thief, don’t jack a Genesis Coupe. It’s a recipe for capture.
Skip the Guidance Package. It costs $99 annually and provides Google destination search and the ability to forward search results from your home computer or your smartphone to your car’s navigation system. Seriously, Larry and Sergey don’t need any additional money.
Aside from the safety-related Blue Link features discussed in the previous section and a set of rear parking-assist sensors that come standard on the Genesis Coupe Ultimate, this car lacks modern safety features. You’ve got your airbags, your traction and stability control system, your antilock braking system, and what Hyundai says is an “advanced high-strength steel frame” with “strategically placed crumple zones.”
Normally, the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) would attempt to validate such claims by performing crash tests on the Genesis Coupe. However, budgets at both organizations dictate testing of popular vehicles that people buy in significant numbers, and so this sports coupe hasn’t been assessed. Aside from a 5-star rollover resistance rating assigned from the NHTSA, there is nothing to report.
Just keep in mind that this car was engineered nearly a decade ago.
Perhaps Genesis Coupe buyers were expecting this car to be more luxurious than it is, given that it shares a name with the far more refined and sophisticated Genesis sedan. That’s not the case, and when you review ratings from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, it is clear that owners are dissatisfied with the quality of the car’s materials and how they are assembled.
The resulting low scores for predicted reliability certainly don’t help make a case for purchase, but it's worth noting that the components people usually associate with reliability appear to be dependable. They’d better be, given the car’s generous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and roadside assistance coverage.
Prices are competitive with primary competitors, and it’s not hard to negotiate a deal on a Genesis Coupe. Don’t even think of paying more than invoice, and you really ought to do better than that. As I write this review in April of 2015, my local dealership still has three examples of the 2014 model in stock, each with big, fat, juicy rebates of $2,500 or long-term, low-rate financing deals.
Depreciation for this model is average, according to ALG, and Consumer Reports expects a Genesis Coupe to prove better than average in terms of overall cost of ownership despite its fairly thirsty V6 engine. While my testing returned exactly what the EPA said the car should, at 19 mpg in combined driving, that’s not particularly impressive in relationship to the redesigned Mustang.
A wallflower among sports coupes, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe deserves more attention than it gets. It doesn’t have the appealingly retro flavor of key competitors, and it waves a flag displaying a Taegeuk rather than stars and stripes, but it makes up for its lack of history and Americana by delivering superior driving dynamics. If that’s what you value more than anything, the Genesis Coupe deserves your consideration.
Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience reviewing cars and has served in editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, Autobytel, and Vehix. Chris prefers to focus on the cars people actually buy rather than the cars about which people dream, and emphasizes the importance of fuel economy and safety as much as how much fun a car is to drive. Chris is married to an automotive journalist, is the father of four daughters, and lives in Southern California.
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