Staring at the orange pylons weaving in a violent pattern ahead of me, I have to admit my heart skipped a beat. I'm not very good at autocross and haven't practiced in more than 3 years. Plus, the fact that I had an audience that included not only several of my male counterparts but also the president and CEO of Hyundai North America sitting shotgun didn't help.
So, I'll tell you right now: I choked.
But in the heart-pounding moments before I took out a slew of cones in the slalom, I felt a deep and intense connection with the refreshed Hyundai Genesis Coupe that brought a flip to my belly when the tail end drifted into a quick wet corner then sped hard and fast toward the daunting S-curves.
What a car.
Admittedly, I failed miserably on the autocross, but that brief glimpse at the possibility of greatness whetted my appetite for another chance. As did the two laps I took on the racetrack at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. So, I'm challenging Hyundai to a rematch -- after I've had the chance to practice a bit, of course.
While the rear-wheel drive Genesis Coupe isn't all-new for 2013, it is significantly refreshed. The biggest change: 2 new powertrains. The updated 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo delivers 274 horsepower, an increase of 64 horsepower over the previous engine. The new 3.8-liter GDI V-6 delivers 348 horsepower, an increase of 42 horsepower.
It was the 3.8 I drove at the track, but it was the 2.0T that I drove out to the track. Both with the revised 6-speed manual transmission. And both were quite lovely. More than what I expected, actually.
On the track, the 3.8 was quick to accelerate and smoothly handled the sharp and winding curves of the very technical road course. On the road, the base 2.0T proffered gleeful acceleration that left me beaming while merging with highway traffic.
In a sharp departure from the typically simple trim levels, Hyundai offers 8 variations of the Genesis Coupe, ranging from the 2.0T with a 6-speed manual ($24,250) all the way up to the 3.8 Track with an 8-speed automatic ($34,250). The 3.8 was a thing of beauty, but the 2.0T was pretty awesome, too.
The really amazing thing is that even with high horsepower ratings in the 2.0T and the 3.8, both vehicles still have decent EPA fuel economy ratings. The 2.0T has city/highway ratings of 21/30 mpg with the 6-speed manual, and 20/31 mpg with the 8-speed automatic. The 3.8 has city/highway ratings of 18/27 mpg with the 6-speed automatic, and 18/28 mpg with the 8-speed automatic.
The exterior of the Genesis Coupe gets refreshed as well, with a new grille, front fascia, revised headlamps and revised hood shape. Overall, Genesis Coupe has more aggressive lines and a snout that's reminiscent of the new Veloster. I liked the overall sportiness of the design, and it does tie it more closely to the other vehicles in the new Hyundai lineup.
On the inside, the styling is clean and simple. But it is far from boring. Especially with the fuel consumption, turbo and oil temp gauges on the center stack. The seats are well bolstered, sporty and quite comfortable. The standard cloth surfaces were attractive, and the leather seats were downright sexy.
As a female on the shorter side of life, the chunky A-pillar did provide a bit of a blind spot on the race track when I was trying to look into the corners, but in normal conditions this shouldn't be much of a problem. I should point out, however, that I had the seat as far forward as it would go in order to push the clutch all the way in -- and that was with my tippy toe. So, anyone smaller than a 5th percentile female would not be able to drive this car. At least not the manual transmission model. The automatic, however, would likely be more forgiving.
The one thing that perplexes me about this car is the name. When I think of "Genesis" the image that I conjure is of a large luxurious sedan. Not a sporty little coupe. So, I don't quite understand why Hyundai would change the name of the Tiburon, and hang a luxury moniker on it. I certainly think there could be a Genesis Coupe in the Hyundai lineup, but in my mind it would be larger. And maybe have a convertible option. Am I wrong?
Nomenclature aside, I really enjoyed my brief first look at the Genesis Coupe. Ride and handling in this car is sportier than anything I've experienced from Hyundai, and it presents like a much, much more expensive vehicle.
All that being said, I'm already biding my time for the rematch with the autocross. Perhaps, with Hyundai's permission, there might be a road trip to GingerMan Raceway in my future and a little quality time with CGI Driving School to help me brush up on my skills.
So … until next time. When I don't choke.
Chicago-worthy rating: 9. This car has all the hallmarks of a great urban vehicle. It's small. It's relatively fuel efficient. And it's affordable. It will fit in all the tight city spaces you'll traverse in Chicago, and it'll still be a comfortable ride for long highway drives. The only reason I didn't give it a perfect 10 is because it's rear-wheel drive (not good for snow), and it's doesn't have a lot of practical usable space. The trunk is certainly roomy, but the opening is small, and then rear seat would be awkward for someone who is a couple inches taller than I am. Which is most of the population over the age of 12.
Want more photos? Be sure to check out my photo gallery.