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Switchback Challenge: 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec

Amou "Joe" Seto |
October 21, 2015 | 8:15 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

In the same way burgers and fries go together, a good car needs a good road to be driven on. Sitting in traffic on the 405 or the 101 really isn’t going to give a good car the poetic justice it deserves. That’s why for cars that are designed to be driven, they need to be driven on proper roads. For this new addition to our automotive articles, we’ve chosen three different switchback roads for our challenge: Latigo Canyon Road in Malibu, Mulholland Drive, stretching from outside of Sherman Oaks and Studio City, and lastly Palos Verdes Drive East, located in Rancho Palos Verdes.

SEE ALSO: Tackling Cleghorn: We Take the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Off-Road

The vehicle we’ll be using for this switchback challenge is the 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec. Switchbacks aren’t about straightline speed, rather they’re all about cornering, and the Genesis Coupe R-Spec has all the right ingredients: Rear wheel drive, a limited-slip-differential, a 6-speed close-ratio manual transmission, Brembo brakes front and rear and proper performance tires. Although the Genesis tips the scales at 3,523 lbs, the power provided from the 3.8L V6 washes out most of the weight. The 3.8L GDi V6 engine powering the Genesis Coupe churns out 348 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. On paper, everything looks rather promising, but how does it feel to drive?

The Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec appears to have all the right ingredients, but does is it well executed? (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec appears to have all the right ingredients, but does is it well executed? (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

Latigo Canyon Road

The start of Latigo Canyon road has a blend of fast and slow corners, with the former allowing you to wring out the Genesis’s engine to its sweet spot toward the upper part of the rev range. The engine doesn’t sound as good as you’d expect, sounding a tad rough as you bring up the revs. When you do enter the engine’s sweet spot, you are met with a resounding wave of torque that pushes you along effortlessly. Towards the halfway point, the road becomes extremely narrow and is one hairpin turn after another. At this point I was really taking advantage of the Brembo brake package but also discovering that the turn in isn’t as good as I was hoping, and the steering feels quite wooden. There wasn't as much grip as I expected coming from the tires as they did have some wear, but I also had a sneaking suspicion that the Genesis's rubber was a slightly too small for the car.

The shifter feels nice in the hand, but shifting feels terrible as you change from one gate from another. It doesn’t feel as crisp as it should, especially considering the sporty nature of this car. It’s also spring loaded, and when you start to go around 5,000 RPMs the spring rattles louder than a hundred furious rattlesnakes. This is especially annoying if you’re constantly driving near the redline as it begins to interfere with engine and tire noise. Latigo forces you to downshift quite a bit in the middle bit, and the pedal layout is excellent for downshifting. Throttle response is extremely quick and a quick dab of the throttle allows for smooth downshifts, but the wonky shifter dulls the experience.

Next to the steering, the shift feel on the Genesis Coupe needs improvement. (Amou "Joe" Seto/neon Tommy)
Next to the steering, the shift feel on the Genesis Coupe needs improvement. (Amou "Joe" Seto/neon Tommy)

Occasionally there was a stray rock or two that you have to be careful about, especially since Latigo is next to to some rock formations. The road begins to severely narrow past the halfway point, and there’s a fast bend close to mile marker 427 (There’s a sign which warns you about the road narrowing right before the bend). Towards the end of Latigo there’s a residential zone which brings the drive to an end, depositing you onto Kanin road. You can follow Kanin road east to an on-ramp for the 101 freeway.

Mulholland Drive

It is possible to go to Mulholland Dr. right after you’ve been on Latigo Canyon by taking the 101 North. There are multiple places to exit to start Mulholland; We took the 101 South to the 405 South, exiting at American Jewish University. There are many other roads that are labeled “Mulholland Dr” on the way, but they aren’t one connected road and as a result abruptly ends in random areas. Mulholland Dr. starting from American Jewish University is one connected road, so you won’t run into any dead ends.

The Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec and Mulholland Dr. (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec and Mulholland Dr. (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

If you’ve just come from Latigo and need to get gas, take Mulholland until you hit Woodcliff Road, then turn left, and turn right at Rayneta Dr then turn left onto Saugus Ave, which will lead you straight to a Mobil station on your left. (Note: They do not sell diesel at this station.) If you need diesel, keep heading east on Mulholland, then head North on Coldwater Canyon Ave. There is a 76 station on Coldwater and Ventura Blvd with diesel.

Mulholland is a relatively lazy switchback course compared to Latigo Canyon. We’d like to note that we didn’t start from the beginning of Mulholland Dr., rather we started next to American Jewish University just outside of Sherman Oaks. It is very easy to get stuck behind someone who will brake unnecessarily at even the slightest bend, but when the road is empty you can make use of the beautiful scenery on either side of mulholland and the soft, winding curves. If you do like to have fun with off-throttle cornering, Mulholland is the perfect place for you- The Genesis's wagon-wheel steering may not be.

Palos Verdes Drive East

Much like Mulholland Drive, it is very easy to get stuck behind someone here, and there are no places to pass except at the top of the hill near Marymount College (Not to be confused with Loyola Marymount). With the traction control on, the Genesis Coupe starts to exhibit a bit of understeer, especially on the sharper turns. Due to the massive number of people here, you can’t have nearly as much fun as Mulholland or Latigo, but you can have some nice, off-throttle fun around the bends like Mulholland. The steering as I said earlier isn’t the car’s best feature which really leaves you wanting for more fluid, communicative steering. Near the hairpins there's a set of long straightaways where you can really open it up. Since PV Drive East is the shortest of the three, it's not really worth the drive if you live far away.

There are very little stations which sell diesel in Palos Verdes- You have been warned! (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
There are very little stations which sell diesel in Palos Verdes- You have been warned! (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

    The Genesis Coupe could really benefit with a wider tire setup on both axles, because as of now the tire setup is the same as the old 2.0T Genesis Coupe. With some improvements such as a revised shifter and updated power steering, this car could be a real run for the money against the 6-cylinder coupe offerings from Chevrolet and Ford. Although it’s close, it’s not there yet.

Overall Performance Verdict: B

Reach Staff Reporter Amou (Joe) Seto here. Follow him on Twitter here



 

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