The 2014 Hyundai Genesis Coupe offers something that's relatively rare today, outside of pony cars or vehicles with a luxury badge: It's a rear-wheel-drive performance coupe, with a choice between high-output turbocharged four-cylinder or naturally aspirated V-6 engines. And it's more performance-focused than anything else in Hyundai's lineup.
Last year's refresh brought stronger engines and a new eight-speed automatic. We can say that with these changes, whether you choose the 2.0T base engine or the 3.8 (V-6), you can't go wrong. With either engine, you have a choice of a standard six-speed manual or Hyundai’s new eight-speed automatic, which includes paddle-shifters. And with the eight-speed automatic now getting rev-matched downshifts for 2014, we anticipate that the slow, laggy shift behavior we didn't like about it before has been mostly excised. The manual is a safe bet for true driving enthusiasts, though.
The 2.0-liter turbo four makes 274 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, with peak torque reached at just 2,000 rpm, and the 3.8-liter direct-injection V-6 in the 3.8 models makes 348 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
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 (new carbon-coated synchronizer rings should make manuals even quieter for 2014) and, most importantly, the steering is a tried-and-true hydraulic system, tuned just right.
As with many of the newer turbocharged fours with twin-scroll turbo arrangements, the 2.0T doesn’t have much if any lag, or require you to work it the way that you had to in earlier Genesis Coupes; you can simply roll into the throttle and tap into a wave of torque that takes you all the way up the rev range. The Lambda V-6 engine in 3.8-liter versions 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. Hyundai has added a similar feature to 2.0T models for 2014, but we haven't yet sampled it there.
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 3.8.
Hyundai made tremendous gains in both performance and dynamic prowess last year, and handling remains a Genesis Coupe high point. Forget about the iffy, unrewarding steering of some other Hyundai models; here, 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.
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. And a traction mode for the stability control system, introduced last year, still allows anti-lock braking if you get too far out of line yet doesn’t cut engine power if you get the tail out; track-day purists will like it.