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This week, Nick Tragianis and Jodi Lai hoon about in Hyundai's sportiest offering -- the Genesis Coupe.
Nick Tragianis: Filling nearly every profitable niche in the automotive industry seems to be Hyundai's favourite move these days. No doubt taking the mainstream by storm, it also takes into consideration sporty offerings quite seriously.
Yes, Hyundai still is a relatively small player that hasn't quite established itself with that moniker, but its new Genesis Coupe is a very capable attempt to rise up in the sports-coupe hierarchy.
Refreshed for 2013, the Genesis Coupe boasts the requisite curb appeal to reel in onlookers. Already a sleek car, Hyundai redesigned the front end to a more aggressive fit, including new blacked-out headlights and LED daytime running lights.
Fake hood vents notwithstanding, it looks like a shark that has just smelled blood, finished off by a set of 19-inch alloy wheels with large Brembo brakes peeking out from behind the spokes.
Jodi Lai: The Genesis is a darling and daring attempt at taking on the sporty Big Boys of the segment -- it straddles the line (both in performance and price) between rear-wheel-drive, six-cylinder cars like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, and classier offerings such as the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G Coupe.
The fake hood vents are one indication that tells me the Genesis isn't 100-per-cent ready to play with the Big Boys at the higher end of the scale. Why not just put in real vents instead of plastic ones?
The Genesis has most of the goods to back up its sporty claims, so it should really embrace it (like it did with -- count 'em -- four exhaust pipes) and not take any shortcuts. Any car that sounds as heavenly as the Genesis and also has four exhaust pipes should not have fake hood vents.
NT: With a direct-injected 3.8-litre V-6 sending 348 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels, it does not even need faux vents or other styling cues to look fast, because it is fast. Power delivery is very smooth -- one of the many inherent traits of normally aspirated V-6 engines -- and it sounds intimidatingly ominous. Not only does the exhaust play a role (an $852 option), but the intake has a separate tube going into the cabin, piping in a whoosh each time the right pedal is matted.
Driving the six-cylinder Gen Coupe is a visceral experience. The burble of the exhaust rattles your eardrums and resonates through your chest. Around on-ramps and in tight corners, the car feels very planted with very little body roll to deal with, yet the ride is a tad on the rough side over bumps and rough pavement. Steering is reasonably neutral with a very welcome amount of feedback to the driver. And the clutch bites early, making it quite easy to hoon about.
But I think we can both agree on our chief complaint: about the Coupe: its six-speed manual transmission. Throws are rather long and it could be tighter, but that's not all...
JL: But wait! There's more!
I adore naturally aspirated six-cylinders. They give me shivers. The one powering the Genesis is no different. I love the power, the menacing bark and everything else about it. The sad thing is when such a fantastic engine is hindered by a wonky transmission.
I found the clutch quite numb and the gears didn't snick-snick into place as smoothly as others we've tested (think of how buttery the Accord Coupe V-6 felt). Another unsettling feeling was how much the engine vibration came though the shift knob -- it's so shaky that it tricked me into thinking I stalled it when I would never do such a thing.
One more thing about the transmission: It takes two hands and a lot of guessing to coax it into reverse gear. Perhaps making it spring-loaded would fix this oddity.
NT: Jodi Lai would never ever stall a manual.
With a low-slung position barely above the road, a thick steering wheel and ample lateral support, the driver's seat is a very nice place to spend time, despite it being low on headroom for taller drivers. The materials and trim are improved for 2013, with the centre console finished in a very attractive trim best described as a darker variant of brushed aluminum. Yes, there are still hard plastics throughout, but the stitching on the dashboard is a nice touch, and every panel feels solid and tightly screwed together.
The three gauges monitoring fuel economy, oil temperature and even torque output are a rather nice touch. In the same breath, however, the fuel-economy gauge is a touch gimmicky, what with the digital (and exponentially more accurate) readout in the trip computer.
Our tester came equipped with Hyundai's intuitive entertainment system. With a clean and simple interface, it's one of the better systems out there, equipped with compulsory goodies such as Bluetooth, GPS navigation and Infinity speakers.
But, truth be told, the radio will stay off most of the time. Is it because it's a weak sound system? Far from it. But it will never sound as good as the cacophonous rumble that fills the cabin under idle and full throttle, not to mention the pops after each rev as the tach needle settles down.
Smooth powerband? Check. Incredible soundtrack? Check. Curb appeal? Check. If only Hyundai put a bit more effort into the manual transmission and did away with the faux hood scoops. It's so 2001-Fast-and-Furious.
JL: I know it sounds like I'm being harsh with the Genesis Coupe, but I really did enjoy it. It's a very gratifying car to drive, its speed and sound proving very rewarding.
But the Genesis has a high bar to reach, and it's not 100-per-cent ready to jump over it yet. This is why I wait in anticipation for the next-generation Genesis Coupe. I think then it will be a complete package, ready to hunt down those Big Boys.
-- Postmedia News