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Whether you think of the 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe as a trim rival to American muscle coupes like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, or as a somewhat more commute-friendly alternative to the Nissan Z370, you'll likely agree that this sporty, rear-wheel-drive coupe delivers impressive performance while being a particularly strong value for the money.
Now into its third year, the Genesis Coupe remains easy to spot from a distance, thanks to its flashy Z-shaped character line near the back of the doors. Otherwise the Genesis Coupe has a pretty ideal mix of rakish sports-car influences and more practical attributes, like its rather low shoulder-line, allowing more window space and better visibility than many other coupes. Inside, the Genesis Coupe isn't quite as bold; there's a traditional cockpit-like layout, though the curvaceousness of it might take some getting used to. Hyundai has spiced up the dash appearance with some bright chrome trim, and upgraded to soft-touch surfaces, to give the look and feel inside more of an upscale ambiance.
The four-cylinder model uses Hyundai's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, which churns out 210 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. Inside the more powerful Coupe 3.8, the engine bay is wedged full with a 3.8-liter V-6 that has 306 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. With both the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro getting power boosts from their V-6 engines over the past year, the competition is now more heated than it was, but the Genesis Coupe is still very competitive: Hyundai says its coupe hits 60 mph in about six seconds and can go on to a limited top speed of 149 mph.
Overall, the Genesis Coupe is a joy to drive, with crisp turn-in, great body control, and strong brakes to match the brisk powertrains. The feel of the steering is about the only thing that we'd like to see different; it can feel somewhat nervous on center, yet a bit dull in corners. And keep in mind that the 2.0T and V-6 versions of the Genesis Coupe are very different in personality. The 2.0T feels light and balanced, with only a hint of turbo lag yet a power curve that rewards revving. The V-6 however has the feel of a typical Japanese sedan V-6: It's smooth and strong and pulls hard through the range.
The 2012 Genesis Coupe is a two-seater, but you'd better think of it as a 2+2; the rear seat is only marginally capable of containing two adults. Most of the time, anyway, you'll be better off folding the back seats forward to expand the ten-cubic-foot cargo hold. Otherwise, there's plenty of comfort for those in front, with snug sport seats, although taller drivers might find it a bit short on headroom. Ride quality tends toward the busy, choppy side, but we've found these coupes to be surprisingly tight and well-assembled.Six trims are offered, including three for each engine type, which are designated 2.0T, 2.0T Premium, 2.0T R-Spec, 3.8 R-Spec, 3.8 Grand Touring, and 3.8 Track. USB and iPod connectivity, as well as Bluetooth, come standard, while at the top end, the Genesis Coupe can be kitted out with luxury-caliber extras like full leather upholstery, xenon headlamps, fog lamps, heated side mirrors, and an Infinity premium audio system. Track models are the way to go for weekend racers and include a firmer suspension, upgraded four-piston brakes (ventilated in front), a limited-slip diff, and other upgrades.