For years Hyundai’s sportiest coupe was the Tiburon, and before the model was discontinued, Hyundai had turned it into a pretty decent looking little car. It never really made any inroads into the import scene and to this day I’ve never seen one at an autocross event or at the track.
When the Tiburon went away, Hyundai came out with the Genesis Coupe, and this car was a big step up in many ways. For starters, it was a rear-wheel-drive coupe with independent rear suspension. I have seen these at the track. In fact, United States Touring Car founder Ali Arsham has been campaigning a Genesis Coupe in USTCC successfully for a few years now.
At last year’s Motor Press Guild Track Days event, Hyundai brought along its hottest Genesis Coupe, the 3.8 R Spec fitted with a six-speed manual transmission and Brembo brake calipers.
If I had to point out what I didn’t like about the car — and I kind of do — the brakes feel a bit mushy. Maybe a stronger return spring in the vacuum booster would do the trick. Braking power is good thanks to the Brembo calipers, but the feel isn’t as good as it should be. This car deserves it.
I also wasn’t wild about the gearbox, or more likely the shifter. It could have been because Hyundai used soft bushings in the linkage, but I felt the shifter and gearbox could have provided more positive feedback. There are aftermarket parts available to stiffen up the linkage to race standards, and that would be one of the first things I’d fix if I owned one.
That’s good news because the Genesis Coupe 3.8 R Spec is a fun car to take to the track, and it’s due in no small part to the capable 3.8 liter V6. If you bought a Mustang or a Camaro, you’d be disappointed with its V6 because there’s a V8 available. But with the Genesis Coupe, the V6 is the top-of-the-line engine and it’s plenty capable.
According to Hyundai literature, “The 3.8-liter Lambda DOHC V6 engine produces 348 peak horsepower at 6,400 rpm, with peak torque of 295 lb.-ft. at 5,100 rpm on premium fuel. In addition, Lambda-engine anti-knock technology gives this V6 the versatility to run on regular fuel whenever required. This direct-injected engine will easily propel the Genesis Coupe from zero to 60 mph in the lower five-second range on its way to an impressive 149-mph electronically-limited top speed.”
We sampled the Genesis Coupe on Willow Springs’ “Streets of Willow,” which is a tight little track, and very technical. With 295 pound-feet of torque on tap, the Genesis Coupe powered out of the corners. It produced enough power to cause the electronic nannies to step in to limit wheel spin and yaw.
Handling was surprisingly good for a factory alignment setting. Turn-in was decent with nominal understeer and reasonably neutral behavior through a corner. The handling was accentuated by the excellent front seats. They were nice and supportive with ample adjustment and side bolstering to help keep you in place.
Inside some of the materials were less than stellar, but that’s a minor complaint because the overall package works well, and it felt as though a few aftermarket enhancements would make this a fun car for everyday driving and for taking to the track. As Ali Arsham has demonstrated, the Genesis Coupe also can be converted to a bona fide racecar.
Something that’s also important to consider is the car’s price. Base MSRP for an R Spec Genesis is $29,990, which is a lot less than a Ford Mustang GT or a Camaro SS. The Genesis Coupe also is lighter than both those cars in street trim at 3,523 pounds with the six-speed manual transmission, so you know it can be made lighter in race trim. Bear in mind that the V6 engine creates 348 horsepower, so the power-to-weight ratio is looking pretty good, at just a hair over 10 pounds per unit of horsepower. In NASA, that’s Super Touring 3 territory, which is a pretty convincing argument in favor of the Genesis Coupe.
Even if you’re not interested in a new Genesis Coupe, used models in R Spec trim with manual transmissions are reasonably easy to find. Better to let someone else have absorbed most of the car’s depreciation, so you can spend a few bucks turning it into a really good track car.
|3.8-liter DOHC VVT V6|
|348 @ 6,400 rpm (w/premium fuel)|
|295 @ 5,100 rpm (w/premium fuel)|
|McPherson strut dual-link|
Rear axle ratio:
|3,523 with manual trans.|