Blitzed to the public during the 2009 Super Bowl, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe represents a significant effort on the part of the Korean automaker to improve their brand image. Previous efforts from Hyundai, such as the S’coupe and Tiburon, could be called “sporty entry level coupes”; they could not be called sports coupes.
When the Genesis Coupe concept was unveiled in 2007, it was clear that Hyundai intended to target a different audience and buyer. Initially aimed at the Ford Mustang, Hyundai appears to have set their sights higher by targeting the performance luxury market. The Genesis Coupe is now squared off against the Infiniti G37 and the Nissan 370Z.
How did they do? According to Edmunds, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver, Motor Trend and others, quite well. The Genesis has kicked ass and taken names; in fact, The Truth About Cars claimed the Genesis Coupe’s steering was actually more precise than a BMW M3. Talk about setting the bar high.
What do I think? I’ll give you road test impressions in a future article, but I’ve got to say I was VERY impressed with the comfort, fit and finish of the Genesis. The seats are the best the company has ever produced, and rival those from Infiniti and BMW for comfort and support. Both seat and side bolstering is perfect; not intrusive for daily driving (like the VW R32), but not lacking for spirited driving. The quality of material used in the interior is impressive, with soft touch vinyl offset by aluminum painted panels. Yes, I know it’s plastic, but so is the fake aluminum in a BMW 3 series. It makes for a pleasant interior, especially in a car with sporting intentions, and I prefer it over the acres of plastic used by the competition (like the new Camaro or the older Nissan 350Z).
Controls fall to hand, where you’d expect them to be, and the leather wrapped steering wheels feels just the right diameter. Look close enough and you’ll realize that the Genesis is still a price point built car: seat leather quality is good, and on par with Acura, but no match for BMW. Interior quality is good, but spend enough time looking and you’ll find exposed bolts and screws. Carpeting looks too shiny and thin to be of high quality.
Still, these are minor points. Where is the Achilles heel of the Genesis Coupe? The back seat, or lack thereof. I’ve sat in the back of the Infiniti G35 and G37, and it’s not bad for those under six feet. You wouldn’t want to spend hours back there, but a cross town trip in the G series coupes wouldn’t require a chiropractor’s intervention. Not so on the Genesis; those taller than about 5 foot 8 need not apply. Your options are to fold yourself sideways, across the seat, or to tuck your head back under the hatch’s glass. Neither is particularly comfortable for more than a minute or two at a time. Even pets will resist climbing into the back, unless they’re the type of dog that routinely gets its ass kicked by cats.
So here’s my 1/50 of a dollar: if you’re shopping for a sports coupe like a 350Z or a G37, and your family consists of two persons only, drive the Genesis Coupe. It’s comfortable, it’s stylish, and it’s damn hard to tell you’re sitting in a Hyundai. Besides, the $5k to $10K you’ll save over competitive models pays for a lot of rental cars in case you need to haul more than one friend at a time.