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2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe (Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail/Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail)
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe (Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail/Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail)

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai's Genesis on the right track Add to ...

Hyundai is driving full speed ahead; 2011 was the South Korean auto maker’s best year ever in Canada, recording annual sales of 129,240 vehicles. And it shows no signs of letting up. February sales jumped 6.5 per cent over February of last year. With 38 straight months of sales growth and a fleet of award-winning cars like the Elantra it’s leaving the competition in the dust.

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But Hyundai isn’t resting on its laurels. It’s delivering new-and- improved vehicles to the market like the 2013 Genesis coupe, which gets a mid-life cycle revamp to keep it fresh amid the competition.

“We’ve gone from Ponys 26 years ago to world-class cars and high-performance sports cars like the Genesis coupe,” boasts John Vernile, vice-president of marketing at Hyundai Canada.

Originally launched as a 2010 model, the rear-wheel-drive Genesis coupe gets more than a nip and tuck for 2013. It gets a power boost, improved transmissions and tweaks inside and outside. Available in four trims, my favourite is the tuner-ready Genesis 2.0T R-Spec. It skips all the fancy stuff and sticks to the racing features a driving enthusiast would love.

“The R-Spec is a base car with all the go-fast parts on it. It is meant for younger people who are not forced to pay a premium for some luxury features they don’t want or can’t afford, more importantly. So when you get in the R-Spec it has 19-inch wheels, low-profile summer tires, Brembo brakes, firmer suspension. It’s a really nice tuner ready package,” says Vernile.

There’s no better place to test the R-Spec than at the track at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, about a 45-minute drive from Las Vegas. Under the hood is a 2.0-litre turbo inline-four with 274 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque – up 64 hp and 52 lb-ft of torque compared to the last model. The power boost is thanks to a new twin-scroll turbocharger and larger intercooler with a 53 per cent increase in capacity.

Mated to the engine is a six-speed manual transmission, the only one offered on this trim. The throws are nice and short; the clutch take-up is progressive. Nail the throttle and you’re thrown back into your seat. The R-Spec excels on the track, remaining sure-footed in sharp corners and, when necessary, you can hit the Brembo brakes and it stops on a dime.

A cool feature is a new three-stage electronic stability control system. In Stage 1, everything (ESC & TCS) is on. In Stage 2, ESC and TCS engine power is turned off, but the braking intervention is still active. And Stage 3 is for thrill-seekers who love to spin out and do doughnuts in empty parking lots at night. It’s a full-off mode – the TCS and ESC engine power and braking intervention is all turned off. ABS does remain active at all times.

While this coupe is stellar on the track, it also makes for a pleasant daily driver. The suspension isn’t too rough – it won’t shake your molars loose.

The price is another bonus for sports car enthusiasts who can’t afford a pricier Nissan 370Z. The 2.0T R-Spec trim costs only $28,799, a few thousand more than the base 2.0T trim.

With a six-speed manual, the 2.0T starts at $26,499, about $1,800 more than the outgoing model. But it comes with extra standard features including remote keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps, power windows, power door locks and air conditioning.

The most expensive trim is the Genesis 3.8 GT at $36,999. It’s luxurious and well-appointed, but it’s a bit too pricey at $38,799, especially if you add the new eight-speed automatic transmission with shiftronic manual mode and paddle shifters. But it does have a new, more powerful 3.8-litre, direct-injection V-6 engine with 348 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque – that’s up 42 hp and 29 lb-ft of torque.

On my tester, the eight-speed automatic is smooth and precise as we drive along the Nevada desert. It gets better fuel economy than last year’s model and you can fill up with premium or regular fuel; you’ll get the best fuel economy numbers with premium fuel; using regular, the numbers drop slightly.

The coupe’s sharp sheet metal stands out on the road. It has a more aggressive and sporty design with a bolder front grille. From its profile, it’s sleek, resembling the lines of an Elantra along its body. The rear has revised rear combination lamps with LED lighting and new 18-inch and 19-inch wheel designs.

The interior is more refined with a premium look and feel, too. There’s a new centre stack with higher-quality materials, a revised leather shifter and a new multi-gauge analog cluster, which displays the oil pressure, fuel economy and turbo boost/torque pressure depending on the model.

A seven-inch touch screen navigation system is intuitive and easy to use. While there’s a cool push-button start, the location to insert the key fob is awkward; it’s hidden in the armrest. I fear I’d forget the fob inside and lock the car accidently although I’m sure there are preventative measures to stop that.

The coupe seats four, but the two rear seats are useless for adults. Even at 5-foot-5, I have little head- and legroom. But the front bucket seats are comfortable and supportive – holding you tightly in place when taking corners quickly.

With more power, new transmissions and stunning good looks, the 2013 Hyundai Genesis coupe is on the right track, poised to continue its sales streak. It hits dealerships in April.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Tech specs

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Type: Two-door sports coupe

Price: $26,499-$38,799

Engine: 2.0-litre, DOHC, turbocharged inline-four or 3.8-litre DOHC V-6

Horsepower/torque: 274 hp/275 lb.-ft. or 348 hp/295 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.0 city/6.6 highway (2.0T with 6MT), 11.5 city/7.3 highway (3.8 GT with 6MT), 10.4 city/6.4 highway (2.0T with eight-speed automatic), 11.3 city/7.0 highway (3.8 GT with eight-speed auto); premium or regular gas

Alternatives: Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Honda Civic Si, Nissan Altima coupe, Nissan 370Z, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ

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