The 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe offers a layout—and focus—that’s relatively rare today, outside of pony cars or luxury sports cars; it’s a performance-focused, rear-wheel-drive coupe, offering a choice of turbocharged four-cylinder or naturally aspirated V-6 engines.
Both engines in the 2013 model are significantly stronger than those of last year’s model. The 2.0T engine—a 2.0-liter in-line four—now gets a twin-scroll turbocharger and larger intercooler, so that it makes 274 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, with peak torque reached at just 2,000 rpm, and a new 3.8-liter direct-injection V-6 in the 3.8 models makes 348 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. With either engine, you have a choice of a standard six-speed manual or Hyundai’s new eight-speed automatic, which includes paddle-shifters.
For those who've been around sporty cars for a long time, think about how classic Japanese sports-car models like the Nissan 240SX or Toyota Supra might be today, if still produced, and you won't be far off the mark for how the Genesis Coupe performs. And thankfully, very few of the front-wheel drive Hyundai driving characteristics carry over into the Genesis Coupe. Shift action is clean and precise, clutch takeup is neat (both are improved for 2013) and, most importantly, the steering is a tried-and-true hydraulic system, tuned just right.
Like so many of the newer turbocharged fours with twin-scroll turbo arrangements, 2.0T doesn’t require you to work it the way that you had to in the last-generation Genesis Coupe; and probably because of that, it’s considerably less boomy and coarse in its personality. You can simply roll into the throttle and tap into a wave of torque that takes you all the way up the rev range. Slam the accelerator down rapidly though, and there's only the slightest bit of lag. Meanwhile, in the 3.8 versions, the new Lambda engine responds to the throttle much quicker—and more energetically, of course—than its predecessor. It’s not intensely torquey down low in a muscle-car sense, but it’s an engine that you ‘get’ right away, with a nice build of power and torque up the rev range.
Also adding to the 3.8 models’ appeal—Hyundai hopes—is that it’s added a sound box essentially to make the V-6 more vocal inside the car (by literally piping some of the engine sound into the cabin), without making the neighbors irate. This sounds a little boy-racerish—and we were skeptically expecting something along the lines of old Chevy Eurosport resonators—but it's well executed, with a rich, sonorous note not kicking in especially vocally until you're deep into the throttle or in the engine's upper ranges.
And in a nod to Hyundai’s frugal, practical side, both engines can run on regular gas if you so desire, and it only cuts output to 260 hp/260 lb-ft for the four and 344 hp/292 lb-ft for the V-6.
Handling remains a Genesis Coupe high point. The quick-ratio hydraulic steering and well-tuned suspension—along with tweaks for this year’s model—give the Coupe better, more predictable body control and better control over rough surfaces. The layout—a dual-link MacPherson strut front suspension and five-link independent rear, with a Torsen limited-slip diff in R-Spec and Track models—is carried over, however, with staggered-width tires helping to maintain this model’s poise at the limit.
Also new for this year is a traction mode for the stability control system, which allows anti-lock braking if you get too far out of line yet doesn’t cut engine power if you get the tail out.
All Genesis Coupes come with four-wheel disc brakes; while base cars come with single-piston floating calipers, R-Spec and Track models get strong Brembo brakes (four-piston and ventilated, front and rear). These stoppers are fade-free, as far as we could tell from an early track experience, and ready for performance driving.
Our only complaint ended up being with the eight-speed automatic transmission. With deliberate (albeit small) pauses between gears, smoothed-out shifts on all but full-throttle acceleration, and delays when using the paddle-shifters (plus no throttle blip on downshifts), its calibration doesn’t quite fit the character of the rest of the car. Stick with the manual if that matters.