2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Click image to enlarge

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Hyundai Canada

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2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Las Vegas, Nevada – These may be bad times for the auto industry, but have a look at how Hyundai is doing and you’d never know it.

During a month when the industry was down 15.1 per cent from 2008, Hyundai’s March sales were up 25.5 per cent for the month and 25.3 per cent for the first quarter of 2009. During the same period Hyundai increased its share of the Canadian light vehicle market from 4.5 to 7.1 per cent. Include Kia – Hyundai’s sister company who is having a pretty good year itself – and the Koreans now have nearly 10 per cent of the Canadian market.

Dennis DesRosiers, whose automotive consultancy generates this data each month, is fond of saying that when car companies are in trouble – or when they are successful – “it can be sourced back to three words… product, product and product. Everything else comes into second place.”

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Judging from the data, Hyundai has the products that Canadians (who still want to buy a new car) want to buy – compact cars (Accent, Elantra and Tiburon), family vehicles (Sonata and Entourage) and SUVs (Tucson, Santa Fe and Veracruz). Hyundai promotes the quality and value of the vehicles it sells. Obviously Canadians agree.

Last year, Hyundai introduced a new vehicle that takes the company into a segment associated more with high end automobiles than with mass market vehicles – the rear-wheel drive Genesis Sedan. While it is still too early to see how well the Genesis Sedan will do, the new car hit a home run with the media winning 2009 North American Car of the Year, AJAC’s Best New Luxury Car under $50,000 and 2009 Canadian Car of the Year, Consumer Reports “Top-Rated Upscale Sedan” while the Genesis’ 4.6-litre V8 landed on Ward’s 2009 10 Best Engines list. The Genesis Sedan competes against some well known luxury and near-luxury brands, like the Lexus ES 350, Acura TL, Lincoln MKS, Nissan Maxima, Saab 9-5 and several others.

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Now Hyundai has introduced another new vehicle based on the Genesis rear-wheel drive platform – the Genesis Coupe. Although it shares a name with the Genesis Sedan, the two cars are not at all alike. Rather than siblings, they are more like distant cousins, sharing the same DNA, but not much else. While the Sedan is a full-size entry level luxury car, the Coupe is performance 2+2.

I have to admit I find the naming a bit confusing and suspect that buyers might too. Hyundai marketing has their work cut out to differentiate these two.

The Genesis Coupe again takes Hyundai into uncharted territory where it will compete against some well-known sport coupes. Hyundai would like to position the Genesis Coupe in the company of the Infiniti G37, Mazda RX-8 and even the BMW 3-series coupes, but realistically, it is more likely to be compared to the Nissan Altima coupe, Ford Mustang, Honda Accord coupe, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Honda Civic Si and Chevrolet Cobalt SS.

But if you think that Hyundai is dreaming in technicolour targeting costly coupes like the G37, RX-8 and 3-Series, get behind the wheel and you will be presently surprised. The Genesis Coupe could turn out to be Infiniti’s (and Mazda’s and BMW’s) worst nightmare.

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