Make no mistake, the Genesis Coupe is one of the most exciting cars on the market. Sure, many are now flocking to line up for the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, but let's not forget that the GenCoupe has been the best selling sportscar in the market for a while, and with good reason.
We've driven the Hyundai Genesis Coupe in V6 guise several times over the past couple of years, including the original version launched in 2008 as well as the refreshed version launched last year. This time it's different, as parked before me is this proudly red 2-liter turbo version with the 6-speed manual... and Brembo brakes.
Yeah, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.
Visually-speaking, the red 2.0T is virtually identical to the yellow V6 we drove a month earlier. The details such as the smoked headlamps, LED on the foglamps, the prominent hexagonal Hyundai grille, new rims and new taillamps are present, though the sunroof has been omitted. The jury is still out on the faux hood “vents”, but overall, the refreshed look and design updates certainly worked wonders for the GenCoupe, giving it the visual impact of something from a custom auto shop rather than a mass-production assembly line at Hyundai's plant in Ulsan, South Korea.
Inside, I was expecting more of the same update as the V6, but unusually, this red 2.0T had the dark red leather upholstery that, in my opinion, gave an excellent contrast to what has always been a monotonous cabin of black and gray. The red leather did very well to elevate the car beyond mere coupe to sportscar through and through.
The dashboard is the same, upgraded version as the V6's. The reshaped dashboard definitely looks good, especially with the updated center console. As stated, there is no sunroof, but the 2.0T gets the same, powerful Infinity audio system, climate control, and even the arm to bring the seatbelts within better reach. There are no paddle shifters as this is a proper 6-speed manual; something we'll thoroughly test later on. Like in the V6, I like the extra gauges, though in this 2.0 turbo, the trio is conprised of the accelerator and oil temp gauges, while the third gauge displays the turbocharger's boost level in kilopascals (kpa); unusual, as enthusiasts and tuners typically prefer referring to boost in pounds per square inch (PSI).
Step on the clutch and press on the start/stop button and the engine springs to action. It's the same engine as before: a turbocharged 2.0 liter Theta engine with dual overhead cams, 16 valves spread out over four cylinders, but has been upgraded... significantly. It may not get direct injection, but the 2.0T 'Mark II' now produces 260 PS at 6000 rpm and 373 newton meters thanks to a better turbo and a better intercooler, giving it only about 40 less PS than the V6 but more torque.
Off the line and at full throttle, the 6-speed manual and the 2.0 turbo engine make for an excellent pairing. The ratios of the transmission are perfect for the slightly laggy turbo engine. Once the boost kicks in, however, you'd best be prepared, as the acceleration of the car with your right foot to the firewall can easily catch out the uninitiated; 260 horses and a sub-6 second 0-100 km/h are not to be treated without proper respect, something I showed a new 86 owner after he revved at me at a set of lights.
After my familiarization run, I turned east, up to the mountains to see how it stacks up on our favorite piece of road for testing performance cars: Tanay.
Uphill, the 2.0T feels far better than any of its rear-wheel drive contemporaries like the 86 and MX-5. It even feels better than the more powerful GenCoupe V6 and the four-wheel drive Lancer Ralliart. The 2.0T is definitely lighter on its feet than the V6, given the lighter engine and the absence of the sunroof. One thing that does need improvement is the shifter, as it doesn't provide a direct or positive feel when shifting and can cause second guesses as to what slot it's actually in during vigorous driving; something that occurred on more than one occasion up in the mountains. When it comes to the feel of manual transmission shifters, the one in the Honda CR-Z Mugen we tested earlier still takes the cake, followed by the 86's manual.
The fast corners and open straights do play right to the 2.0T's boosted nature and handling, and is easily able to kiss 200 km/h on the longest straight (again, do so at your own risk) before reaching the braking point... which brings me to the next big improvement: the brakes.
We've always been wary when testing prior versions of the V6 up in these mountains, as the stock stopping power of the GenCoupe didn't exactly inspire confident braking. Not this time, as this red one has far better rotors, calipers and pads from Brembo. Entering turns, I could dive on the brakes much later and with far more conviction than before, and the positioning of the pedals are perfect for heel-and-toe braking. If memory serves, I could take the same braking points as the Evo X here... not with the same speed, of course, but -given more time, fuel and tires for this rear-wheel drive coupe- perhaps with more style.
After my run, I pull in to clean off all the grime on the car and the surprisingly minimal brake dust on the rims, when the owner of the car wash walked up to me and of all things, asked me the question: “What's the resale value like?”
That, to me, misses the point completely about sportscars. Things like fuel economy, cargo space, and residual value are trivial matters in this class of car. This is a car meant to be enjoyed cruising or bruising on a straight and open piece of tarmac as much as it wants to be driven seriously on a mountain pass.
It's not perfect... no car is. However, given that every manufacturer is moving towards fuel economy and environmental-friendliness, cars like this Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T -a car meant to satisfy the rebel in you- will always be a welcome sight.