EXPERT REVIEW

Our view: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Photo of Mike Hanley
Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle. Email Mike Hanley

Hyundai is on a mission in the U.S., diving headlong into new segments and challenging automotive norms. The full-size Genesis luxury sedan that the automaker debuted for 2009 shows that you can get much of the luxury and performance of a high-end German or Japanese sedan at a fraction of the price. It even earned Cars.com’s 2009 New Car of the Year Award.

Now, Hyundai is tackling the sporty coupe market with its new 2010 Genesis coupe, which shares a name with Hyundai’s flagship sedan but has its own look and feel. The Genesis coupe offers a lot of value for the money if you’re shopping for a rear-wheel-drive sports car, but it suffers from a raucous turbo four-cylinder engine and inconsistent interior quality that tarnish what is otherwise a decent first effort from Hyundai.

Underwhelming Turbo Four-Cylinder
The Genesis coupe is offered with a standard turbocharged four-cylinder or an optional V-6, and this is one of those times when it’s worth the extra money to choose the optional engine. I drove both versions of the Genesis coupe, and the additional power and refinement offered by the V-6 makes up for its worse gas mileage and additional cost.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe Engines
  Turbo 2.0-liter I-4 3.8-liter V-6
Starting price $22,000 $25,000*
Horsepower (@ rpm) 210 @ 6,000 306 @ 6,300
Torque (lbs.-ft. @ rpm) 223 @ 2,000 266 @ 4,700
Required gasoline Regular Regular
EPA gas mileage (city/hwy, mpg) 21/30 (manual) 20/30 (automatic) 17/26 (manual) 17/27 (automatic)
*Price includes additional standard features that go in V-6 coupes.

The turbo four-cylinder provides acceptable acceleration when you wind it out, with power building more steadily than you might expect from a turbocharged engine. Peak torque is rated at 223 pounds-feet at a low 2,000 rpm. However, unlike Volkswagen’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, this engine doesn’t encourage you to rev it. It makes an annoying buzzing sound as engine rpm increase, accompanied by an equally unappealing vibration through the steering wheel that you can feel in your fingertips. It’s the type of sensation you could get used to in an economy car, but it seems completely out of place in a sporty coupe.

The standard six-speed manual transmission works decently, but the high-effort clutch and shifter don’t engender the sense of driving pleasure an exceptional manual can. It does the job, but little more. My upper arm and shoulder got jammed up against the seat a little when shifting into 2nd or 4th gear, which may have had something to do with the shape of the seat or the position of the shifter in the center console. Regardless, it was definitely out of the ordinary.

Ride & Handling
There’s something to be said for going with a rear-wheel-drive platform when creating a sports car. Enthusiasts know its benefits well — more-balanced dynamics and better power delivery — but even non-enthusiasts will likely conclude that a rear-drive coupe like the Genesis is more fun to drive than a front-drive one.

The results are mostly good. The Genesis coupe hunkers down when accelerating and stays remarkably flat when cornering. Both the four-cylinder and V-6 coupes I tested were Track models. That means they were fitted with performance equipment like 19-inch alloy wheels shod with summer tires; Brembo brakes; a sport suspension; and a limited-slip differential, all of which likely contributed to the car’s capabilities.

The downside of Track models is that they deliver a jarring ride on anything other than smooth roads; the car transmits all the irregularities in the road, like patching work and manhole covers, up to you.

There’s moderate weighting to the steering wheel, so it takes some effort to turn it, but the heft is appreciated when cornering, as well as when cruising on the highway, as you aren’t constantly making micro-corrections. More steering feedback would be appreciated, though.

Track Performance
I had a chance to drive a four-cylinder and V-6 coupe on a track, and both coupes felt balanced through the corners, but their standard stability systems were frequently activated. I’m no pro driver, so I tend to leave the stability systems on in all the cars I take on racetracks, but of the performance cars I recently drove on a track only the Genesis coupe’s system consistently came on during aggressive cornering.

The Genesis coupe with its turbo four-cylinder engine doesn’t have enough power to impress on a fast racetrack, but neither do most production cars. In comparison, the V-6’s higher output is better suited to the track, and it doesn’t sacrifice the coupe’s agility.

Comfortable Front Seats, Inconsistent Cabin Quality
There’s plenty of space for adults in the front of the cabin. The bucket seats have comfortable cushions and a nice shape that agreed with my back. The seats have side bolsters that are there for you when you throw the car into a tight turn, keeping you planted. The steering wheel, however, only tilts; a telescoping adjustment would be nice.

Cabin materials are good in some places and unremarkable in others. The upper portion of the dashboard and sections of door trim have nicely grained surfaces, there’s an upscale woven headliner, and the center controls for the climate and audio systems have a quality feel to them. However, there are also low-grade hard-plastic surfaces on the lower portion of the dash and sections of the doors, plus a snap that’s used to secure the shifter boot and a steering wheel rim that’s finished in leather but somehow feels like rubber.

The coupe technically seats four, thanks to its two-person backseat, but after a few rides back there your friends might start to think you don’t like them. The space is cramped, with not much legroom and even less headroom; my head was pressed against the rear window when I climbed back there. Small children, on the other hand, should fit fine.

Cargo
The coupe has a traditional trunk that measures 10 cubic feet, which is enough room to accommodate three golf bags. You can create more cargo room by folding down the rear seatback, which is released by pulling either a knob in the trunk or a strap in the backseat. Once folded, there’s a short rectangular opening between the trunk and cabin.

Features
Base 2.0T coupes come well-equipped with automatic headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, cruise control, a CD stereo with USB and auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, and remote keyless entry. In addition to its V-6 engine, the 3.8 trim offers an enhanced level of standard features, including fog lights, leather seats and automatic air conditioning.

More features are grouped together in Premium and Grand Touring packages, which are available for 2.0T and 3.8 models, respectively. The Premium includes a power driver’s seat, Infinity stereo, keyless access and ignition, and a moonroof. Grand Touring V-6 coupes include the above-mentioned Premium features as well as brown leather seats, heated front seats, high-intensity-discharge headlights, rear parking sensors and heated side mirrors. Track versions of 2.0T and 3.8 models include all the features from their respective packages, listed above, as well as special performance components.

Genesis Coupe in the Market
Whether you’ll like the Genesis coupe depends a lot on how hard you’ll drive it. While sports car enthusiasts might not be fully satisfied with its dynamics, shoppers looking for a nicely equipped coupe that looks sharp cruising down the street will likely be pleased with it.

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