Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2008) CAR review and video

By Ben Barry 24 October 2008

By Ben Barry

24 October 2008

London motor show video

CAR Online has just driven Hyundai’s new rear-wheel drive Genesis Coupe. And it’s good. Very, very good. Hyundai hasn’t yet committed to bringing the car to the UK, but our first drive confirms that – like Barack Obama and the US – the Genesis Coupe would be a transformational character for Hyundai.

CAR getting hot under the collar about a Korean coupe? Are you well? Is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe that good?

Absolutely. We drove this car hard for three full days on everything from motorways to dual carriageways and the twistiest, emptiest back roads we could find. As you can tell, we came away impressed.

Don’t confuse this Genesis Coupe with the front-wheel drive variants Hyundai has been knocking out since the 1990s. This is an all-new rear-wheel drive platform developed not only for the Genesis Coupe, but also the Genesis saloon and the VI Equus – a large four-door saloon that posh Korean hotels use as taxis.

There are two basic versions to chose from: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo making 207bhp and a 299bhp 3.8-litre V6 with six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions. We sampled the larger engine with the auto gearbox, although it’s worth pointing out that any UK cars would be fine-tuned to suit our roads.

Put me in the driving seat.

Climb inside and you’ll sink into comfy leather seats, find plenty of headroom and clear, simple controls. The plastics covering the upper sections of the dash have a soft-touch quality feel to them, and while the quality deteriorates lower down and the centre console is a little bland, it’s hardly a deal breaker.

What’s particularly striking are the echoes of Infiniti G37 – the black dials that fade to blue at the edges, as though you’re looking at a solar eclipse; and there are even similarities in the seats, rooflining and the thin and tactile steering wheel.

Press the starter button and the deja vu continues: the V6’s hollow warble is strangely familiar and it can be no coincidence that, at 3.8-litres, the Hyundai out-punches the Nissan 370Z/Infiniti G37 by 100cc.

Scroll down the page to the embedded player to view Hyundai's uneditted footage of the Genesis Coupe

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Hyundai Genesis Coupe first drive   

London motor show video

And out on the road?

It’s a big V6 with the emphasis on torque rather than screaming revs, so there’s plenty of muscular flexibility low-down and a willingness to pile on speed dramatically without getting over-excited about it. So while the Genesis never feels really fast, it never feels lacking in the shove department either.

The auto ’box was perfectly decent with smooth and relatively fast changes, but a lack of paddleshifters felt strangely OAP in a car so sporting. Slide the stick across to the left and you access sport mode and with it the chance to use the ‘+’ and ‘-’ manual option. This holds the gear to the redline and requires that you push the throttle far further down to activate kick-down. It works well, but won’t satisfy like we imagine the manual will.

Brembo brakes come as standard on this car and offer strong performance and a firm pedal even when you’re continually stamping on them.

How does it handle?

Brilliantly. There’s loads of front-end grip to lean on and an overall feeling of composure and balance that encourages you to get the rear-end working. Our car’s auto transmission and open differential meant hooliganism was off the menu, but its poise meant it was still brilliant fun – in a strikingly similar manner to the Infiniti.

The steering teams up well with the user-friendly chassis: it’s light, quick and linear but – at the risk of sounding like a stuck record – a little more weighty feedback when you commit to a bend would be nice.

The damping, however, needs some attention for UK roads – it was too easily upset on even lightly fractured surfaces and lacked the kind of supple sophistication that distinguishes the best in the business. The challenge for Hyundai would be in smoothing the ride while retaining the excellence of the chassis.

Scroll down the page to the embedded player to view Hyundai's uneditted footage of the Genesis Coupe

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Hyundai Genesis Coupe first drive   

London motor show video

Is it practical?

Pretty much. The boot is deceptively large, but it’s a shame that the space that’s unlocked by the folding rear seats is largely blocked by the bodyshell. There is enough room in the rear seats for smaller adults, but smaller is definitely the word. You might squeeze larger adults back there for trips to the shops, but any longer and they’ll be complaining about lack of headroom and having their knees pressed against the solid plastics on the seat backs.

Verdict

Hyundai’s Genesis coupe is a great car. It’s attractive, well-built, relatively practical and its balanced rear-drive chassis and eager V6 make it great fun to drive.

If it does come to the UK, expect a price tag of around £25k. And while that would undercut key rivals like the 350Z and G37, we wonder if Hyundai might need to be more aggressive to get to the potential customers who’ll struggle with the badge.

What are the chances of it coming to the UK? Tough market conditions mean it’s shifted from a dead cert to 50/50 at best, according to the UK press office. As a brand builder alone, we reckon it’s worth Hyundai taking the chance.

Scroll down the page to the embedded player to view Hyundai's uneditted footage of the Genesis Coupe

Would you buy a Hyundai Genesis Coupe over an Infiniti G37? Are you about to start begging your dealer to import the car? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say  

Statistics

How much? £25,000
On sale in the UK: Maybe mid-2009
Engine: 3778cc 24v V6, 299bhp @ 6300rpm, 266lb ft @ 4700rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 6.3secs 0-62mph
How heavy / made of? 1610kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4630/1865/1385

Ratings

Handling 4 out of 5
Performance 4 out of 5
Usability 4 out of 5
Feelgood factor 4 out of 5
CAR's Rating 4 out of 5

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  • Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2008) CAR review
  • Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2008) CAR review
  • Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2008) CAR review
  • Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2008) CAR review
  • Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2008) CAR review