CANADIAN Tire Motorsport Park -- Having become a recognized name in the subcompact and compact car segments, having achieved equal success with a well-regarded line of compact and mid-sized sport-utes and having proven it can engineer and produce a loaded luxury sedan for thousands less than what comes out of a German or Japanese factory, Hyundai is now establishing a name for itself in the performance-car segment.
And its weapons of choice are reinvigorated versions of its stylish but somewhat boulevardier-like Genesis Coupe and its outré and asymmetrical Veloster sport hatch.
To showcase the engineering revisions that have given these two cars a serious case of steroid-induced muscularity, Hyundai brought a bunch of auto journalists to the former Mosport International Raceway for a day and let us have at it.
Amid the squealing of tires and the acrid smell of punished brakes, here's what you can expect for the 2013 model year:
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
TAKE the space pod-like Veloster, an otherwise playful and lightweight sports coupe hampered only by a dearth of power, bolt a twin-scroll turbocharger to its diminutive four-cylinder engine and you have the beginnings of a car that should command a lot more respect among the performance groupies.
The 2013 Veloster Turbo is packed with a 1.6-litre turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine, producing 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 pound-feet of torque from 1,750 rpm to 4,500 rpm on regular unleaded gasoline. This is an impressive 46-per-cent more juice than found in its naturally aspirated sibling.
To handle the increased power output, the Veloster Turbo is matched to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an available six-speed manumatic.
The manual features a wider gear-ratio spread than found in the base Veloster, which better distributes the turbocharged engine's added torque. The six-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual mode and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters replaces the base Veloster's fuel economy-focused EcoShift DCT, as it can better handle the increased torque output from the turbo engine. The gear ratio spread is slightly narrower than the DCT in order to keep the engine in its power band when changing gears.
Out on the roads around the track, the Turbo obviously demonstrated a livelier feel than its naturally aspirated sibling. Power comes on in a steady flow (almost no turbo lag at all) rather than one massive rush, so the coupe doesn't feel blindingly quick. That's a little deceptive, however; after a slow initial launch, it takes very little effort (and time) to hit illegal speeds.
The steering, at first impression, feels artificially heavy until the first full turn comes into view. Then, a quick downshift, a dab of the brakes, the necessary degrees of turn to the wheel and the Turbo takes its set, holding its intended line with poise through the corner (yes, like all front-drivers, it will understeer at the limit).
The steering rack does have a quicker ratio than the standard car and a revised steering calibration to match. As for the brakes, the ventilated front rotors have been enlarged by 20 millimetres.
Priced starting at $25,999 and available in a single trim level, the Veloster Turbo comes loaded with a full menu of standard equipment. Turbo-exclusive exterior features include a new hexagonal grille, sculpted side skirts, rear diffuser with twin centre-mounted exhaust tips, 18-inch alloy wheels with chrome inserts and projector headlamps with LED.
Inside, two-tone leather seats with "Turbo" stitching are paired with a new electro-luminescent gauge cluster and darker interior trim, ostensibly, Hyundai says, to give the car a more premium feel.
Standard features include a seven-inch touchscreen navigation system with backup camera, a 450-watt Dimension premium audio system with eight speakers, Bluetooth, proximity keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and alloy pedals.
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
HYUNDAI dug deep into its performance-parts bin to outfit the 2013 Genesis Coupe and, by imbuing both available engines with healthy power increases, embellishes the rear-wheel-drive car with more sporting bona fides.
The base Genesis Coupe 2.0T, which starts at $26,499, sees a 274-hp turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine under its hood mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, with a 30-per-cent increase in power over last year's model.
Then there's the "track-ready" 2.0T R-Spec, which adds high-performance equipment such as Brembo brakes, stiffer suspension, 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a Torsen limited-slip differential and more.
At the top of the heap is the 348-hp 3.8 GT, powered by a 3.8L V6 with GDI. The 3.8 GT combines all available 2.0T features with added technologies including high-intensity-discharge headlights, push-button ignition and LED daytime running lamps, among others.
A new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shift Shiftronic manual mode is optional on all models except the 2.0T R-Spec.
The refreshed Genesis Coupe also sports a more intimidating demeanour with a redesigned front fascia, grille, headlights, LED daytime running lights, fog lights and hood.
The Coupes were relegated to Mosport's driver-development track only, a tight course that puts an emphasis on finesse rather than outright speed (at least to someone with no racing talent whatsoever).
I snagged a 2.0T R-Spec for my dozen laps and found the Coupe very forgiving of my ham-handed attempts to keep to the intended racing line.
As much as the turbocharged four proved highly capable up the back straight, I was more impressed by the lack of body roll and the heroic nature of the Brembos in quickly scrubbing off speed.
After sampling the Veloster Turbo and Genesis Coupe, it's clear that, although Hyundai might not be the first name when it comes to performance cars, thanks to these breathed-on models, neither will it be the last.
-- Postmedia News