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Han Seol-Oh Would Totally Approve: 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec, Reviewed

Amou "Joe" Seto |
December 23, 2015 | 12:54 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Back when Han from Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift said his line “You think I’d let you roll in a Hyundai?”, Hyundai’s main sporty offering was the shockingly awful Tiburon. Hyundai eventually axed the Tiburon, but still wanted a car to fill the Tiburon’s shoes. That’s where the Hyundai Genesis Coupe came in, picking up where the Tiburon left off, but with a new direction. The drive wheels switched from the front and the rear, the four-pot gained a turbocharger, and the V6 grew in displacement.

The facelifted Genesis sports a much more aggresive fascia than the previous generation (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The facelifted Genesis sports a much more aggresive fascia than the previous generation (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec Switchback Challenge

The R-Spec I tested is essentially a stripped out Ultimate, and for that you lose a lot of toys, such as the 360-watt Infinity stereo, backup cameras and the center console display. You can’t go back and try re-adding these options separately, because there just aren’t any option packages available. For die-hard performance enthusiasts who consider the features I previously mentioned to be a mere distraction from the pleasure of driving, the R-spec is the perfect choice for them. Brembo brakes, 6-speed close-ratio manual with carbon syncros, Torsen limited slip differential, and body hugging bucket seats are just some of the performance features on the R-Spec. The two-liter turbocharged four pot has been dropped entirely, leaving the 3.8 liter V6 as the base engine for the Genesis Coupe. The large displacement mill churns out 348 horsepower @ 6,400 RPM and 295 lb-ft @ 5,100 RPM.

The 3.8 Lambda V6 powering the Genesis Coupe. (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The 3.8 Lambda V6 powering the Genesis Coupe. (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

The engine’s power delivery isn’t as refined as I expected, especially as the revs start to climb. Wringing the engine all the way up to the redline in first and sidestepping the clutch into second nets massive wheel chirp from the back and a screaming howl from under the hood (if you have the traction control on, you just get wheel hop). Due to the close ratio gearing, the Genesis does 80 mph at 2900 RPM while in 6th.

The best way to drive the Genesis is to turn the three-way traction control system completely off. The car feels extremely unnatural with it on, and it constantly interferes during high-speed cornering and redline shifts. After you turn the system off, you’ll discover that the Genesis isn’t that much of a handful when you throw it into a corner.

The handling is very predictable thanks to the front Macpherson strut/rear multilink suspension layout, which has found the absolute perfect blend of stiffness for handling and ride comfort. Normally in cars like this I watch the road for any imperfections which may break my spine in two, but in the Genesis this wasn’t an issue. It irons out bumps during normal driving and on a twisty road, it’s got the composure to deal with whatever you throw at it.

Inside, there isn’t much to talk about. The massively bolstered front bucket seats are excellent for hugging you in the corners and the center console features a gauge cluster featuring torque, MPG, and oil temperature. When you lift off the throttle, the MPG and torque gauges drop off, and when you reapply the throttle they move at the same pace as a college student waking up in the morning. Since they’re placed low down on the center console and are quite sluggish, they’re more of a novelty than actual help.

The rather spartan interior of the R-spec. (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The rather spartan interior of the R-spec. (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

There are a few problems with the Genesis Coupe that need to be addressed. The main issue involves the manual transmission. The spring-loaded shifter doesn’t feel that good compared to offerings from Honda or Scion, and when you go past 5,000 RPMs the rattling noise coming from the spring sounds like a furious swarm of wasps flying through some bicycle spokes. Unlike shifters in the Ford Focus/Fiesta ST or the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the Genesis coupe lacks a true reverse lockout. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if reverse was located near 6th gear like it was on the Honda Civic Si; However on the Genesis it’s located right next to 1st gear. The car will tell sound a beep when the shifter goes into reverse, but you may not hear it if you are too busy rocking out. I constantly kept putting it in reverse on accident while driving through the city my first few days with the car, but eventually got used to it.

The most problematic thing in the Genesis Coupe is the execution of the shifter (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The most problematic thing in the Genesis Coupe is the execution of the shifter (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

Like most performance cars on sale today, the Genesis Coupe’s clutch is of medium weight and has a short travel. The clutch has a very high catch which makes slow driving very difficult, and I’ll admit I’ve stalled the car a couple of times. When you aren’t driving at a snail’s pace crawling through traffic, the clutch is perfectly fine, and when you’re really pushing the car it’s an absolute treat.

The problem with the terrible shifter ends up spilling over to the rest of the car, as the whole car simply lacks finesse. The V6’s power delivery lacks refinement; when compared to other V6s I’ve driven, such as the LFX V6 in the Chevrolet Colorado, it’s leagues behind in terms of smoothness. The car’s build quality suffers too, as most of the interior panels feel very Fisher-Price in quality, and even the little things such as pulling on the door handle feel unsatisfactory.

This is a stark contrast to the Genesis sedan, which blew me away with its superior build quality and top-notch materials. Granted, the Genesis sedan and the Genesis coupe are two completely different cars, and since Hyundai is spinning off Genesis as a separate brand, this may or may not matter. If the Genesis coupe gets carried over to the Genesis brand, will the build quality improve? Only time will tell.

Problems that aren’t about build quality include a stereo that sounds like it’s playing from the bottom of a river, no package options for the R-Spec (or any other model), voice commands which outright refuses to call certain people and/or flat out refuses to work. Still, Hyundai put their money where it matters, which is on the drivetrain and handling package. Increasing build quality may have increased the cost significantly, which may have led to the vehicle being uncompetitive in this class.

Despite being a performance oriented coupe, it’s not completely stupid completely stupid; you get loads of space in the front for drivers of almost any height, a reasonably sized trunk with a spare wheel and good visibility. The backseat has adequate legroom but there’s a real lack of headroom, so if you have a massive afro or a mohawk, you’ll probably have to sit in the front.

The Genesis trunk holds a reasonable 10 cubic feet of space (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The Genesis trunk holds a reasonable 10 cubic feet of space (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

The Genesis is a great sports coupe, but it’s not fully there. The build quality needs work, and the drivetrain could do with some refinement. I know Hyundai can do much better, it’s just a matter of them implementing some changes that we’ll hopefully see in the near future.

Overall Score: B-

Rear Wheel Drive Performance Score: B

Price as tested: $30,465


Engine: 3.8L DOHC 24-valve GDi V6

Horsepower: 348 @ 6,400 RPM

Torque: 295 lb-ft. @ 5,100 RPM

Transmission: 6-speed close-ratio manual with carbon syncros

Drive Wheels: Rear

Curb Weight: 3,523 lbs

Weight Distribution (F/R): 56/44

Cargo Volume: 10.0 Cu. ft

Our Combined MPG: 19.7

Tire: Bridgestone Potenza RE05A

Tire Size (F/R): 225/40YR19; 245/40YR19

EPA Estimated MPG (City/Highway/Combined): 16/24/19

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



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