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2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT Driven Review

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe at Fishermen's Cove

Surely the title was enough of a hint: this is a review of the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT. There really is no mistaking this for anything but a review of a car Hyundai Canada offered to GoodCarBadCar for a week. But there’s a bit of a different angle, a straight-out-of-the-logbook perspective, if you will. 

This Genesis Coupe open (log)book review will not only offer you a more complete look at at Hyundai’s sportiest car, it will show you changes of mind, evolving impressions, and a variety of circumstances. The length of this Genesis Coupe review is difficult to swallow, but this is what happens when the reader is given access to the thoughts which were written down at the end of each and every drive. If this is well received, it might become the way reviews are published at GoodCarBadCar.

As always, click any of the images for a larger view, and don’t forget to check out a whole bunch of other Genesis Coupe pictures in the gallery after the jump at the very end of this post.

Day 1: Who doesn’t get a little excited at the prospect of a week in a 348-horsepower rear-wheel-drive coupe. Hyundai Canada provided a 3.8 GT, a car which, at a little more than $36K, is fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission. What a rare treat. Even the Fiat 500 Sport I reviewed last year was an automatic, although I’ll admit I made that choice out of pure curiosity.

Establishing the cars with which the Genesis Coupe lines up isn’t easy. Yet when I press the start button, punch the shifter into first – no that’s reverse, here’s first – and proceed with a rumble, I see visions of American muscle cars, not Japanese drifters.

Price (CDN): $36,999-$38,799
Engine: 3.8L DOHC 24-valve V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Horsepower: 348 @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm
Curb Weight: 3433 pounds
Drive Type: rear-wheel-drive
Length: 182.3 inches
Width: 73.4 inches
Height: 54.5 inches
Wheelbase: 111 inches
Passenger Volume: 2515 litres
Cargo Volume: 283 litres
EPA City: 18 mpg
EPA Highway: 27 mpg
Observed: 21.4 mpg
Observed: 11 L/100km

Gears were notably easier to find from that point on. The throws could do with some shortening, but the real complaint in regards to the shift process is with the weight of the clutch. It was a long city drive back to the new GCBC Towers in Eastern Passage, and the easier left lug thrusts from a powerful car like the Chevrolet Corvette were fondly remembered. The Genesis Coupe V6’s manual shifting experience wasn’t a big detractor today as it overcame the expectations I’d developed after reading the experiences of others. But the opportunity to row your own in the Gen Coupe won’t be a selling point, either.

In terms of delivery, the Genesis Coupe’s 295 lb-ft of torque reaches the rear wheels in a very V6-type way; a very turbocharged 4-cylinder kind of way, in fact. A Ford Mustang’s 5.0L V8 is, understandably, much more of a loper. And while this 3778 cc V6 of Hyundai’s isn’t a screamer, it enjoys climbing about 500rpm higher than you’d have guessed. This is good news.

500 extra revs is a few more tenths of a second you’re given to enjoy the sound. We used to look to a Honda V6 for smoothness when a GM 4-cylinder depressed us. Then Nissan’s 3.5L VQ-V6 excited us with a bit of burble. This Hyundai 3.8 has much of that Honda smoothness and at least all of that 350Z burble. As it should be in a rear-wheel-drive coupe, whether it’s an American muscle car or a Japanese drifter, this engine is the heart of the car. How successfully it beats will go a long ways to determining if the 2013 Genesis Coupe is a winner or just a shockingly fast Korean GT.

What else? A quick peek in the rear seat revealed very little… of anything. The new front end doesn’t make the Genesis Coupe pretty, but it gives the car much needed personality and a stronger identity, something the pre-facelift model lacked. The 2009-2012 car utilized a bit too much CSBN: coupe styling by numbers. Once the steering wheel and seat were situated quite nicely, too many control knobs and buttons were too far away. And the power window buttons require my wrist to twist oddly, something I don’t think I’ve ever encountered in a car before.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe in Eastern Passage

Day 2: Since GCBC Towers relocated to a more rural part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Fisherman’s Cove is now just a short walk or shorter drive down the street. Where better to photograph the 2013 Genesis Coupe?

People always turn and stare when we’re taking pictures of cars, but the Genesis Coupe attracted longer looks tonight. Perhaps it’s the spectacular 19-inch wheels or the aggressive face. Styling is subjective, let’s be certain. And while I’m not a fan of the Coupe’s massive schnoz as an individual piece of design, it takes away the generic two-door look of the pre-facelift car. The original Genesis Coupe styling was more cohesive and more classically handsome, but a touch too bland for this specific market. This new front end treatment takes away some of the pretty, but by adding way more aggression, the Genesis Coupe now looks like it should have looked all along.

Parking the Genesis at McCormack’s Beach in Eastern Passage revealed surprisingly decent visibility for a coupe of this size. It’s a big car; for sure, nearly 15 inches longer than the 2013 Scion FR-S; more than 400 pounds heavier than the defunct Mazda RX-8. The car still feels… not all there for a car with 348 horsepower, particularly in third and fourth gears. Steering weight is nice. Hyundai is one of numerous companies now capable of building a car which rides on massive, sticky, low profile tires yet still has directional stability. Ah, the modern age of motoring.

Day 3: Okay, so the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT is fast after all. It just needed the right landscape to expose this truth: an uphill on-ramp, a fast motorcycle being driven quickly, and an uphill off-ramp. It was just a simple trip to the bank, but when an opportunity presented itself to hear the Hyundai howl, the noise was matched by ferocious acceleration. Yes, in this era of 545-horsepower Nissans, this 348-horsepower, 3562-pound Hyundai possesses accelerative ability which can still be called ferocious. Max power isn’t generated until 6400 rpm, but in the two lower gears, reaching such engine speeds legally isn’t impossible. Higher gears simply expose the 3.8L’s mediocre torque figure of 295 lb-ft (@ 5300rpm), just 20 lb-ft up on the 2.0L turbo, an engine which generates all 275 lb-ft of twist from just 2000rpm.

Put it this way: when friends ventured over to The Passage for a look at our new puppy and a drive in the Genesis later in the evening, the female in the back seat was genuinely frightened by the tenacity of the 3.8L Genesis Coupe as it accelerated out of corners. Or else she was just tired of her head banging off the rear window, which eats into the passenger compartment like a sectional sofa encroaches on a studio apartment’s dining area.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe at Fishermen's Cove Eastern Passage
All Photo Credits: Timothy Cain ©

Day 4: It’s sunny today, and apart from the dusty rear end of the Genesis Coupe, this Gran Premio Gray paint looks delicious. It’s hot out, too, an easy 30°C with humidity. This instantly has my hand veering toward the temperature controls, but in the Genesis Coupe, some interesting aerodynamic work offers a better route. Along the meandering Shore Road in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, where fresh ocean air is much preferred to sterile air conditioning, dropping the Hyundai’s windows and sliding back the sunroof cools the interior but adds only a smidgen of buffeting. Rarely does a car offer such a calm, wind-free experience with the windows dropped. It adds to the feeling that the Genesis Coupe, with a ride just barely on the comfortable side of too firm, would be a great long distance cruiser.

The more time I have to drive the Genesis, the more I feel that comparing it with the allegedly dynamic Scion FR-S or the ostentatious Chevrolet Camaro would be to miss the point. More than in any other vehicle category, it may be the case in this in this fast sports car/GT/sporty car/hot hatch/roadster/convertible segment that cross-shopping is unlikely. If you want a Chevrolet Camaro SS, a car we believe to be an obvious rival of the Ford Mustang, you may have no interest at all in testing it back-to-back with the Ford. If you want a Subaru BRZ, the idea of a similarly-priced front-wheel-drive Volkswagen GTI may seem silly to you.

And if you want a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, it may just be the only car you want. A 370Z is a two-seater. Choosing between the American muscle car trio is thought by many to be a consideration for your latter years. Audi A5s and BMW 3-Series coupes and Infiniti G37s have certain unwanted airs about them.

So not to sound too philosophical about it, but the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is simply trying to the best Hyundai Genesis Coupe it can be. Bobby Orr wasn’t supposed to have the same skill set as Ken Dryden. You don’t expect Chris Botti to be the best guitarist in the world, or Jesse Cook the best trumpeter. Quit expecting the Hyundai Genesis Coupe to be an outright sports car – a car which can be raced in a pinch – and you’ll find it satisfying. Solid handling, ample horsepower, a firm yet tolerable ride, a feature-laden interior, terrific seats, and a classy profile add up to a car you might like to drive across Europe. Yet in Canada, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT costs $98,000 less than a Mercedes-Benz CL550 4Matic, which, I’ll admit, isn’t a direct rival, either.

Day 5: On this rainy day, the Genesis Coupe enjoyed its longest journey yet, a mix of highway and urban streets during a crosstown drive. The perfectly positioned dead pedal is a huge help for long distance comfort. The rear glass needs a wiper. The stereo is fine; the acoustics are not. In comparison to Hyundai’s own Veloster, this was quite a letdown. Seat comfort remains top notch, even for the passenger who’d just endured a minor back operation.

The interior would be greatly improved if the whole centre panel was canted toward the driver. Switching channels on XM shouldn’t require a reach, and the extra gauges low down near the shifter are more legible for the passenger than the driver. There’s plenty of room for my right knee, so there’s no reason everything – even the shifter – couldn’t be closer to the driver.

These issues aren’t minor, but they’re secondary to the driving dynamics. The ropey, vibrating shifter is average at best. On occassion, the 3.8L V6 still feels like it’s generating 300 horsepower, not 348. But the 2013 Genesis Coupe’s ride and handling balance shines more brightly with each drive. For a car with such roll control, the degree of cosseting is surprisingly high. It does roll a bit, and it is a bit firm, but today the compromise was appropriate.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Rear

Day 6: At the beginning of a wet and miserable weekend this 3.8L Genesis Coupe performed shopping duties. Heavy duty shopping duties. The trunk opening is narrow, but if the goods can finagle their way in, there’s a decent amount of usable space (10 cubic feet) in the cargo area. We loaded two baby gates from Wal-Mart, four long, narrow boxes of temporary window coverings from Home Depot, and a pet carrier for our Lab puppy in the back of the Hyundai, giving no thought to the loading process. And yes, we had a little fun with the Coupe’s rear-wheel-drive nature in back of the Home Depot, sans traction and stability control.

Day 7: When it’s closed, the sunroof creaks. Uh-oh. It’s loud enough to hear clearly when the shade is open, quiet enough not to hear at all when the shade is pulled. My 5’3″ wife enjoyed the rear seat’s leg room on a drive all around Dartmouth and downtown Halifax, but one crack of the head on the way back to Eastern Passage ended her joy. The shifter no longer seems to be the car’s weak link as the weighty clutch made itself keenly felt, particularly on the hilly, traffic-filled streets of downtown Halifax. Its point of engagement is clear, but the clutch has very long travel (as opposed to the short travel throttle). The seats may be comfortable but – once adjusted for the perfect fit – are angled in such a way as to make the travel of the clutch seem even longer. 

Regardless of the pain created by the leftmost pedal and the not-quite-all-there feeling of the far right pedal, the middle pedal, the one that’s connected to 13.4-inch Brembos at the front and 13-inch Brembos at the back, is incredible. Not only are the stopping distances short, but the pedal is remarkably easy to get to know. With great fondness for the human foot, the brake pedal allows for easy modulation of stopping force.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT

Day 8: Return day has been marred by having to, well… return the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT. That fact alone is rather telling. Despite its numerous flaws, nearly all of which are minor, spending time driving this car – not just spending time in it, but driving it – made for a great week of transportation. So dominant is the Genesis Coupe’s performance, we took little note of the navigation system’s adequacy, the glove box’s decent capacity, the difficulty with which the seatbelt is reached, or the lengths to which one must go not to be judged when driving a very sporty-looking car wearing stunning 19-inch wheels and… Ontario plates. In this neck of the woods, those are great lengths indeed.

For a big V6 engine, the 3.8L craves revs. So rev it I did. And while I pushed this vehicle harder than most, the end of the week tally showed fuel consumption of 11 litres per 100 kilometres. That’s 21.4 miles per gallon for U.S. readers. The EPA ratings are 18 city and 28 highway for a combined rating of 21 miles per gallon. Therefore, this showing by the hard-driven Hyundai 3.8L is downright impressive, though slightly behind what a Mustang V6 should do.

Improved styling
Real-world fuel economy
High-rev gumption
Not as quick as expected

Rear headroom
Heavy clutch

Buzzy shifter

Some of the Genesis Coupe’s potential rivals are hugely tempting automobiles. A 2013 Ford Mustang is a handsome and fast machine that’s more refined than ever. Saving money on a lesser-powered Subaru BRZ could be enticing. Spending a little extra for a basic $41,000 Nissan 370Z will lose you two seats while also upgrading your backroad experiences. 

None of these are cars are capable of calling into question the 2013 Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT’s outstanding value. You’ll probably go to the dealer because you want to confirm it still looks nice. Perhaps you’ll test drive it because you heard it was quicker than ever. But the actual purchase of a 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe will likely result from what you see on the bottom line. A 2.0T with the premium package for under $30,000 stirs up something inside a performance car enthusiast. 

For $36,499, this tricked out hi-po example takes that $30K 4-cylinder and sews more frill on the doily, kicks more balls into the back of the net, and infuses the kimchi with more gochujang.

Related From
2012 Hyundai Veloster Driven Review
2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Driven Review
Monthly Canadian Sales Charts Of Sporty Cars
U.S. And Canadian; Monthly And Yearly Total Hyundai Genesis Sales Figures