Test Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT car test drives hyundai
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Ottawa, Ontario – Simply put, spinning a coupe off of an existing sedan is usually a matter of drawing up a new body minus two doors, and maybe chopping a few inches out of the wheelbase to create a sportier profile. While the idea is usually to create a car that appeals to a slightly different buyer than the sedan is aimed at, it’s rare that the coupe of the same name is that dramatic of a departure in terms of style or performance. Think Honda Accord, Infiniti G37 or the upcoming Cadillac CTS coupe.

Now comes the Hyundai Genesis Coupe: where the Genesis sedan aspires to compete with luxurious high-speed cruisers like big BMWs and Mercedes, Hyundai has its sights set on a much different part of the market with the Coupe.

Test Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT car test drives hyundai
Test Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT car test drives hyundai
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT. Click image to enlarge

The first clue is the price: the Coupe starts at about $25,000 compared to the sedan’s nearly $40,000 opening price-tag. Then there’s the Coupe’s base, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine, an engine not found in the sedan. The Coupe’s upgrade powerplant, a 3.8-litre V6, serves as base engine in the sedan.

But the real difference is in the way the Coupe drives compared to Genesis sedan. My tester was a full-zoot 3.8 GT model, complete with “GT calibrated” suspension and racy Brembo brake kit that, on paper, make this car look like a track star next to the comfortable and capable sedan. The firm suspension makes it feel track-worthy, too, giving this car great handling and roadholding. The downside is that the stiff ride can be a bit much for commuting, so opting for the softer chassis setup would make this an easier car to live with every day.

The Brembo brakes stop the car with authority, and the pedal has a nice, firm feel that inspires spirited driving. The steering is quick and responsive, but the downside is that the car can be darty on the highway. My biggest annoyance, though, is the car’s penchant for bump-steer – where uneven pavement tugs at the steering wheel – which can make the car frustrating to drive on rutted city streets.

Test Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT car test drives hyundai
Test Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT car test drives hyundai
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT. Click image to enlarge

The big V6′s 306 horsepower feels exactly as strong as it sounds; it loves to rev and sounds great doing it. Leave the traction control turned on, though: the combination of big power and rear-wheel drive makes the car a handful if you try to accelerate too hard through a corner, particularly in wet conditions. The manual shifter cooperates, being easy to shift, save for some crankiness when the car is cold. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the brake and throttle pedals are too far apart to allow for easy heel-and-toe downshifting. The throttle’s tip-in is a little too aggressive, but the effect isn’t felt so much when driving away from a stop as it is when trying to cruise at a constant speed. In the lower gears in particular, the car seems to either want to coast, or accelerate (albeit gently), with nothing in between, so that the car can be tough to drive smoothly in the low-speed confines of rush-hour traffic and suburban streets.

In recent Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) testing conducted at the 2010 Car of the Year Testfest event, the Genesis Coupe posted a 6.6 second zero-to-100 km/h acceleration sprint. That was good enough for about mid-pack in the Sports/Performance (under $50,000) category; its 100 km/h-to-zero braking distance of 36.7 metres was second only to the Camaro SS’ 36.2 metres.

With the 3.8-litre V6 engine and manual transmission, the Genesis Coupe’s official fuel consumption figures are 12.0/7.6, city/highway. Through a week of driving, my tester averaged 12.5, but let it be known I wasn’t shy with the loud pedal.