First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe reviews hyundai first drives
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Las Vegas, Nevada – Not a car company to rest on its laurels, Hyundai is giving its Genesis Coupe a major shot in the arm for the 2013 model year. Rolling into showrooms now, this refresh is immediately identified by its big black grille, new design alloys, reformed hood with faux intakes and LED taillights. But it goes well beyond the cosmetics.

With the addition of direct fuel injection to the 3.8-litre V6, it now kicks out 348 hp (up 42 hp) and 295 lb.-ft. (up 29) while returning marginally better fuel economy. The 2.0T turbo four gains a larger twin-scroll turbo and a 30 per cent jump in power to 274 hp, with 275 lb.-ft. of torque on tap at 2,000 rpm. In a clever move, Hyundai says both engines will run on regular gas if you don’t mind a slight drop in power and torque.

The V6 and I4 Coupes now share two trannies – a base six-speed manual featuring improved shift action and an optional $1,800 Hyundai-developed smooth 8-speed auto with paddle shifters. Previously, the 2.0T was fitted with a five-speed manual and the auto for both models had six cogs.

First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe reviews hyundai first drives
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The good news continues inside with more soft-touch surfaces, better padding on the door armrest, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a handsome redesign of the centre stack incorporating a trio of performance gauges (oil temperature, fuel economy and boost pressure or torque output depending on the model). It feels richer inside and thankfully Hyundai has stepped away from its radical console designs of late, giving the Coupe’s cabin a more mature ambience.

Price for the well-equipped base 2.0T with six-speed manual jumps $1,800 to $26,449. The 3.8 V6 comes only in premium GT trim and sees a $500 increase to $36,999.

I spent the better part of the day driving the new 2.0T R-Spec model which is geared for the enthusiast on a budget. While you don’t get a sunroof or auto climate control in this $28,799 scrapper, all the important bits are present – staggered 19-inch alloys with performance rubber, Brembo brakes, GT suspension, sport seats and a limited slip differential. The R-Spec can only be had with the manual gearbox.

First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe reviews hyundai first drives
First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe reviews hyundai first drives
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Click image to enlarge

If you think this is a recipe for driving fun, you’d be correct. The 274-hp turbo four has a lot more punch than last year’s car, and it makes a satisfying snarl when you lean on it. Yes, there’s still a bit of turbo lag and the shift throws are a tad long, but the chassis is brilliant and now more exploitable with a new intermediate stability control setting that allows you to describe graceful arcs with the Coupe’s fetching derriere. Progressive and manageable breakaway is here for the taking.

Additionally, the damping and spring rates have been retuned, eradicating the flinty harshness of the old car. Hyundai has stuck with hydraulic steering here, making for a well-weighted and communicative helm. The R-Spec’s fabric sport seats with leather side bolsters kept me and my driving partner in place while we coursed through the lovely winding roads up to Mount Charleston.

The back seats are usable for average-sized adults, but why, oh why won’t the front seats return to the rake you have so carefully selected after they are flipped forward to allow back seat access? Shouldn’t we be beyond this in 2012?

At the private Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch about 50 miles from Sin City, we got to sinfully thrash these cars on the sweeping road course and a wet auto-cross circuit.

First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe reviews hyundai first drives
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The V6 GT with its sharp and more linear throttle response seemed happiest on the big track, whereas the 2.0T with its lighter front end and less power consistently turned in the fastest times at the autocross. It’s easy to find a rhythm in these Coupes. They are a true hoot on the track, showing no vices or nasty surprises when exploring the limits.

As far as aural pleasures go, the 3.8L V6 wins the prize with its throaty wail. Adding to this is underhood ductwork that pipes some intake sound into the cabin.

With its newfound gusto, the 3.8 GT now competes directly with the 332-hp, $40,978 Nissan 370Z, and while not as hard core as the Nissan, the Hyundai is considerably more refined and a much easier car to live with day-to-day. Same deal when looking at the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger.

The 2.0T Coupe sees two fresh opponents in the upcoming rear-drive category: Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S, but the Hyundai soundly trounces this 200-hp naturally-aspirated pair on power and torque; and possibly on price.

The Hyundai Genesis Coupe is the best selling car in its class, and now with ramped-up power, sophistication and a more exploitable chassis, expect this trend to continue.

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