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2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-SPEC (Bob English for The Globe and Mail)
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-SPEC (Bob English for The Globe and Mail)

Road Test Hyundai Genesis R-SPEC

Hyundai’s updated 2013 Genesis Coupe demands respect Add to ...

To paraphrase Aretha Franklin, if what you want and what you need is a ride that looks really cool and goes really fast, you should be askin’ for a little R-Spec-t.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t is what the stylistically revised and seriously up-gunned for 2013 2.0T R-Spec version of Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe has been generating since its arrival a few months ago.

How this might have come about:

Ring, Ring.

“Hi, is this Mr. Lee from product engineering in South Korea? I’m calling from the marketing department in North America.

“A bunch of us were just sitting around noodling about the freshening you guys are giving the Genesis coupe for 2013 and had this idea. We hear the styling studio has come up with a great new front-end treatment and a changed-up look out back, plus new wheels. And that inside there’s a new centre stack, electroluminescent instruments, new sports seats, upgraded materials and more equipment.

“But what we think it really needs is more power, so the 3.8 litre V-6 can outgun aspirational rivals such as BMW 3-Series coupes, Cadillac’s CTS and Infiniti’s G37. And enough from the 2.0-litre turbo four to make the Honda Civic Si, Scion FR-S, Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Mini Coupe sound like grocery-getters.

“No problem, you say? You’ll tweak the 3.8 to a 14 per cent-improved 348 hp and you’ll just bolt the clever new twin-scroll turbocharger you’ve been playing with to the 2.0 and tighten the screw until it’s blowing in enough air and fuel to make – sure, a 30 per cent horsepower jump to 274 hp would be just great. Kamsahamninda – very much.”

A 64-hp gain in power, allied to improved handling and ride, slicker styling and a worthwhile list of other improvements never hurt any car’s chances of making new friends and influencing them to hand over monthly portions of their paycheques. And that’s the case with the fresh-look 2013 Geneses 2.0T, which you can purchase for $26,499.

But if you take your driving considerably more seriously you can spend a not-too-much-more $28,798 and step up to the R-Spec. You don’t get any additional power for your money, but you do get some useful items to assist you in applying its considerable amount of oomph in a more effective manner.

The 2013 R-Spec’s power is generated by a 2.0-litre, all-aluminum, twin-cam, variable valve-timing four-cylinder now equipped with a twin-scroll turbo incorporated in a single casting with the exhaust manifold. Working with the larger intercooler, it allows a cooler, denser and leaner mixture to be fed more evenly to the cylinders, improving power, emissions and economy.

The power gains we’ve already mentioned, but the fuel economy ratings of 10.0 litres/100km city and 6.6 highway manage to match those of last year’s less powerful engine with six-speed manual gearbox, all that’s available with the R-Spec. I averaged 10.4 litres/100 km in my time with the car and 8.2 litres/100 km at highway speed.

And anti-knock sensors allow you to save a few pennies on your commute by using regular fuel, for which you pay a small power penalty. Fill up with the good stuff for a weekend track day or autocross.

The rear-drive R-Spec also comes with 19-inch alloy wheels (up an inch over the 2.0T) shod with P225/40VR19-inch front and P245/40VR19 Bridgestone Potenza rear performance tires. These are bolted to a strut-type front and a five-link rear suspension system with 7 per cent stiffer front and 11 per cent stiffer rear springs and one-millimetre-thicker front and rear anti-roll bars. All 2013 coupes have low-velocity-control dampers that better control body motion and improve ride.

A front strut-tower brace stiffens things up there and braking has been uprated with larger 340-mm front and 330-mm rear discs and Brembo four-pot calipers. And helping you get the power to the ground is a Torsen limited-slip differential.

The R-Spec’s interior is fitted with seats whose large bolsters are trimmed in leather with a great-looking woven-mesh material in between. You also get a rear spoiler and an R-Spec badge. Not a bad bag of go-fast swag for $2,300.

The styling revisions up front create a complexity of curvy-bits that look video-game aggressive – in a good way – spoiled by the need to screw a big white and blue tin rectangle with numbers on it right in the middle.

The new instruments look fine and other changes are also for the better and the new telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel makes setting up a good driving position easier.

A pair of rear-seat passengers may find enough room for their legs but will have to lay their heads over on their inboard shoulders, and will still bounce them off the backlight glass. There’s 332 litres of room in the trunk. It’s quiet enough at highway speeds to enjoy the audio system, which has all the latest features, and Bluetooth hands-free communications.

It’s well equipped to be a pleasant go-to-worker or tourer in other words, although its around-town drive-ability isn’t all that could be hoped for.

Its undeniable quickness is a case of power prevailing over heft. At 1,525 kilograms, the R-Spec is no lightweight (a couple of hundred kilos more than most rivals), putting that 2.0-litre motor under a lot of (turbo) pressure to perform. The result is a lag that remains between pedal application and power production, and there’s often a rather unpleasant surging sensation. The latter pointing up a driveline that could still be tightened up a bit. And the revs hang up for a long time between shifts.

If you’re driving like you mean it – enjoying that great rush of power – much of this will go unnoticed, but in normal traffic conditions, well, it is. Not a deal breaker, but an area Hyundai could have done better in.

On back roads, the R-Spec’s new power seriously shortens the between-corners time/speed/distance equation. And the steering, which feels more realistically weighted, and those suspension mods result in it following its nose through curves like pointed finger.

The R-Spec isn’t perfect, but it is very quick, very capable and a head turner. Just not quite as slick as it looks.

Tech specs

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec

Type: Sports coupe

Base Price: $28,798; as tested, $30,363

Engine: 2.0-litre, DOHC, turbocharged, inline-four

Horsepower/torque: 274 hp/275 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Fuel economy: 10.0 litres/100 km city/ 6.6 litres/100 km hwy (regular fuel).

Alternatives:Scion FR-S, Honda Civic Si, Mitsubishi Eclipse Coupe, Mini Coupe, Kia Forte Koup, or a number of hot small sedans and hatchbacks


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