2013 Subaru BRZ (top), and 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T. Click image to enlarge
Long-Term Test: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT
Test Drive: 2013 Subaru BRZ
Day-by-Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ

Manufacturer’s Websites
Hyundai Canada
Subaru Canada

Review and photos by James Bergeron

Photo Gallery:
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
2013 Subaru BRZ

Unlike large, big money US magazines, TV shows and websites, the small guys up here in the great white north do not, for the most part, have the luxury of calling up manufacturers who then drop everything to make our requests come true. As a result, when a car like the Subaru BRZ crosses our paths and we happen to have a Hyundai Genesis Coupe in the driveway as well, evil thoughts of track time and performance shootouts engulf our minds day and night.

So readers can complain all they want, that we did not test the Genesis R-Spec vs the Subaru BRZ, or that we should have included this car or that — we aren’t listening. What we have here is the all-new 2013 Subaru BRZ in base form, priced at $27,295, and a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Premium model with six-speed manual, which happens to be priced at $29,899, a little more than our Subaru tester. Without the Premium Package, this Genesis Coupe’s price would come in at $26,499 — a very close price match to our Subaru tester.

If we added the Sport Tech package – which includes leather and a few other goodies — to the Subaru, we would have nearly identically equipped and priced cars.

You can read about interior comfort and refinement Day-by-Day Review of the Subaru BRZ, or Chris Chase’s  Update on our Long-Term Hyundai Genesis Coupe as this test is focused purely on driving and the fun associated with it, and which car brought the goods in terms of driving pleasure and all-out performance.

It was a beautiful sunny Wednesday in August, when myself and a friend grabbed the keys to these two gems and headed straight to Calabogie Motorsports park just 45 minutes north of Ottawa. This would be our test venue to ensure a fair comparison on a closed course. With me was my trusty Traqmate data logger (a highly accurate GPS and accelerometer-based data acquisition device), some GoPros and a digital camera for some glamour shots.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T (top), and 2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

First, some data: Calabogie Motorsports park is a 5.05-km long course that consists of 20 corners and a 609-meter (2,000-foot) straight. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T weighs in roughly at 1,580 kg (3,480 lb) and is rated at 274 horsepower, giving it a 12.7 lb/hp power-to-weight ratio. The 2013 Subaru BRZ weighs about 1,270 kg (2,800 lb), so its 200 horsepower means a ratio of 14.0 lb/hp.

Clearly the Hyundai has the advantage where power is required, but the nearly 315 kg (700 lb) weight differential should play into the hands of the Subaru in most of the 20 corners. Battle on!

I’m not a professional driver; nobody pays me to drive fast on a racetrack. But give me a car and a track and I will push it hard with the skills that I have developed over the years. I have far too many hours and laps at Calabogie Motorsports park to count, so I know the track well. The goal here was a somewhat of a blind test, in that I would take each car out on the track, do one warm up, one hot lap, record a time and then finish with one cool down lap.

Perhaps this does not lend itself to which car can actually do the fastest lap, but it’s also a measure of which car is easier to drive and offers a driver more confidence out of the box. Three, four, or five laps in each car would certainly reveal slightly faster times, although I suspect the difference would be slight between both cars either way, as the brakes warmed up and tires got too hot.

First up was the Subaru BRZ, perhaps at a slight disadvantage, as I hadn’t been on the track in over a month. I set what I thought was an okay lap and jumped into the Genesis to do the same. Immediately the Genesis felt softer in the corners and less communicative than the BRZ, which was disappointing, actually. But I was on a mission: the Genesis’ extra horsepower should easily overpower the BRZ down the straights and I was pretty confident that cornering speeds would be very similar, and looking at the data afterwards it seems I was correct.

A lap of Calabogie Motorsports park begins with a long straight into a high-speed corner. In the Subaru, I entered this corner at 142 km/h and slid to the outside, getting back on the power with an exit speed of 135 km/h. In the Genesis, as I suspected would happen, entry speed was higher at 147 km/h, but exit speed suffered as the tires are more of the touring variety. As a result, I only exited at 131 km/h as I struggled to keep the car on track. The BRZ came out of that sector ahead by 1/100th of a second, so yeah, it was close.

On to sector two, a series of slower corners leading onto the long straight. Entry speed this time went to the more nimble and lighter BRZ at 80 km/h. The Genesis suffered under hard braking, entering the corner at 72 km/h, and coming out of this sector the BRZ was now ahead by 3/10th of a second.

On the long straight, the Genesis kicked into high gear, pulling ahead of the BRZ. Despite my lack of confidence in the Genesis’ brakes after the first big braking zone, I still managed to hit 177 km/h in the Hyundai, but according to my lap data, I was still on the gas in the BRZ at that point, as I was more confident it would be able to slow down in time for the next corner. Despite this, the BRZ maxed out at 172 km/h as we entered a double apex right. The Genesis was now ahead, but barely…

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T (top) and 2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

Another long straight into a corner known as Temptation, a long decreasing-radius left-hander, which is tricky to do properly and quickly in any car. The BRZ’s lighter weight and better brakes allowed it to take a more commanding (but still close) half-second lead at this point. The story continues down the next straight as the Genesis caught up, but as we exited the series of corners call the Duck’s Head and Beak, the lighter, nimbler BRZ took the lead by more than 6/10ths. Through the high speed esses of Spoon and 4-left, the cars were even, but then the Quarry complex, a series of four right-handers, put the nail in the coffin, as the BRZ exited and crossed the line with a 2:41.625, over a second ahead of the Genesis’ 2:42.837.

It was close, and the Genesis would have done better if the brakes were better (R-Spec anyone?), so who is the winner here? It would be a cop-out to say that the consumer is the winner here, but that is somewhat of a truth, as either car will perform exceptionally on the track, but if you plan on taking your Genesis to the track, there’s no question you should be opting for the R-Spec with its upgraded brakes.

In this comparison the winner was obvious: the BRZ was more fun, easier to drive and faster around Calabogie Motorsports park. The chassis is incredibly compliant and capable, and the vehicle speaks to the driver in plain language. The Genesis felt isolated and reserved, making it more street friendly, no question. But as a weekend warrior there is no debate where my money would be spent.

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