2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-SpecPosted on December 7th, 2011
Performance-tuned coupe feels at home on road or track
By Nina Russin
For 2011, Hyundai added two performance variants to the Genesis coupe family: one powered by a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and a second based on the 3.8-liter V-6. Both cars transform the coupe’s personality from a premium road car into something much edgier and more youthful.
The R-Spec coupes aren’t for everyone. The suspensions have stiffer spring rates, which can make for a bumpy ride on certain types of roads. Both models come exclusively with manual gearboxes. A limited slip differential is standard. In other words, the R-Spec coupes are Hyundai’s answer to Infiniti’s G coupes and Ford’s pony cars. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 5.5 seconds: a pretty good number in any stable.
For buyers who want to buy a track-ready car, the R-Spec packages are hard to resist. If one were to purchase standard components on the Genesis R-Spec coupes, including Brembo brakes, strut tower brace, track-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels with performance tires and the close ratio ZF gearbox in the aftermarket, it would cost a lot more than the OEM package.
On top of that, the buyer gets a sexy looking car loaded with comfort and convenience features such as Bluetooth and USB interface, satellite radio, bolstered sport seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, special badging and fog lamps.
Hyundai’s ten-year/100,000 mile warranty covers any repair due to defects from the factory, and includes five years of roadside assistance.
The only accessories not included in the test car’s $26,750 MSRP are a cargo net, iPod cable and carpeted floor mats. Together they add $180 dollars to the price of the car. The MSRP includes delivery charges as well. In other words: no ups, no extras.
Midwest to Southwest
My first drive of the Genesis R-Spec took place on a road trip between Chicago and South Bend. While I liked the idea of the car, I couldn’t see living with its hard suspension on typical upper Midwestern roads. Buyers would also need to purchase winter tires, since the summer treads on the R-Spec would lose traction when temperatures dropped below the freezing mark.
Driving the 3.8-liter version in my hometown of Phoenix is a completely different story. Free of frost heaves and potholes, the Genesis R-Spec is a car I might consider owning.
On the highways around town, the coupe’s ride, while stiff, was certainly comfortable. The four-wheel independent suspension is easily capable of mitigating the types of road chatter typical in this part of the country. The stabilizer bars and strut tower brace make a significant difference handling on decreasing radius turns, keeping the chassis pancake flat.
The six-speed manual gearbox has enough range within gears to function well while commuting. The clutch, while stiff enough to do duty at the track, works fine on city streets as well.
The engine develops peak torque at about half throttle, for excellent acceleration in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The R-Spec coupe’s large wheels enhance high-speed cornering, while the large Brembo brakes stop on a dime.
Steering feedback is excellent at all speeds. The variable effort system offers plenty of assist at low speeds for maneuvering around crowded parking lots, while offering excellent on-center response on the highway.
While the high-performance tires produce a certain amount of road noise, the coupe’s interior is pleasantly quiet. Passengers shouldn’t have a problem conversing or enjoying the audio system.
Visibility to the front and sides is pretty good. The rear pillars produce some blind spots to the back, which are most noticeable driving in reverse. I didn’t have problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway.
Inside the Genesis coupe seats up to four passengers. Because of the roof’s severe rake, second-row passengers don’t have an abundance of headroom. I’m five-foot six and my head came to within a couple inches of the rear glass. Legroom isn’t tremendous, but certainly adequate for trips around town.
I liked Hyundai’s choice of cloth upholstery over leather. It’s easier to keep clean, and stays more comfortable in extreme heat. Bolsters on the seat are adequate for holding the driver and front passenger in place during aggressive maneuvers. Manual seat adjustments are intuitive and provide adequate lower lumbar support.
The steering wheel is a nice shape and size. As a smaller framed woman, it felt quite comfortable. The gearshift lever is a little taller than I would like, but certainly livable. I didn’t notice any gear lash during my test drive.
Hyundai uses a blue background on its gauge cluster and center stack display. It’s attractive, but can make information difficult to read in bright sunlight.
Designers did a good job of including enough cup and bottle holders, and 12-volt power points for recharging portable electronic devices on the go.
Despite the rather large wheel arches, access and egress to the second row is pretty good. A lever next to the front seat flips the seatback forward and out of the way.
The trunk, while not especially well suited for large cargo, can easily hold golf bags, luggage, camping supplies and groceries. Bicycle owners will be better served with one of Hyundai’s cross or sport-utility vehicles.
The Hyundai Genesis 3.8 R-Spec comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, active front headrests, antilock brakes, stability and traction control.
Hyundai’s race-prepared Genesis coupe is rolling into dealerships nationwide.
Likes: While the Genesis R-Spec coupe isn’t a car for everyone, it fulfills its mission of affordable performance extremely well, and as with all Hyundai products, offers tremendous value to the buyer.
Dislikes: Center stack display with blue background is difficult to read in bright sunlight. Lack of rear headroom.
Model: Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec
Base price: $ 26,750
As tested: $26,940
Horsepower: 306 Hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 266 lbs.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: Under six seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 17/26 mpg city/highway
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