Friday, June 22, 2012

Hyundai Genesis Coupe - Moving Up Again

Photo: Victor Llana (
Hyundai, and its sister division, Kia, have been on a happy upswing for a while now. I like to think that they took Toyota and Honda as the models of success, although whether there's an actual correlation between the two Korean brands and the two Japanese ones is debatable.

Think of this. The first Hyundai in the U.S. was the Excel. Excel is something it didn't do--it was pretty poor. It was cheap, though, and you got what you paid for. But then, the cars got progressively better and better, and better looking, too. The Koreans at Hyundai studied the Japanese models just mentioned. So now, you have the excellent Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio at the bottom, the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte a step up, then the midsize Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. All are doing very well, thank you. I've driven them all.

But what about moving upward? What about giving more performance and luxury? Ask no more. From Hyundai, you can get the Genesis sedan or coupe. Think of it as the Korean Lexus--or Acura. But, unlike those to esteemed brands, there is no separate showroom. You can go into any Hyundai dealership and pick one up today. That saved Hyundai a wad of cash--and the positive vibes rub off on all of the other, more modest vehicles in the fleet. Smart.

I just spent a week with the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, specifically the 3.8 R-Spec. It impressed the heck out of me with its mighty 3.8-liter 348-horsepower V6 driving the rear wheels. The solid shifter action reminded me of a Nissan 370Z I drove not long ago. The clutch was a little tricky, with quick takeup, so I did stall it a few times at first.

Who would think you could get this kind of entertainment from Hyundai? The sedan exudes Mercedes-like elegance, but this coupe is a brawler. 348 horsepower is more than many Corvettes offer with their V8. And how about 20.4 miles per gallon? Official EPA average is 21 mpg, with 18 City and 27 Highway.

My Becketts Black tester mysteriously did without automatic climate control, which is probably standard in the Sonata, and the USB port is tucked away in a teeny little cubby up front--nice--but without enough room for the iPod, which has to hang out in one of the console cupholders. But despite that, and including lovely red leather bucket seats, the price came to $29,625--including shipping. That feels like a heck of a deal to me.

And now, how about the new Hyundai Equus? It's $60,000! What will they think of next?

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