Much like the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S twins having made their debut this year, the Hyundai Genesis Coupé was a much anticipated enthusiast’s car around its launch. The one place where Hyundai messed up in my eyes is using the same name as its full-size luxury sedan. While the majority of gearheads know what a Genesis Coupé is, there’s no denying the fact that it sharing a name with a Korean Buick hinders its appeal at least slightly. The first-generation Coupé in my opinion was held back in its class by a few particular issues. It lacked horsepower (just over 200) and the handling wasn’t all there. The car felt vague and imprecise. I decided to sample the restyled track-oriented model, the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupé R-Spec, to see how it compared.
The 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder is an incredibly capable engine, and Hyundai knows this, as the same engine is now available in a ton of Hyundai/Kia applications including the Sportage SUV and the Sonata sedan. For 2013, the Genesis Coupé has received a massive restyle. It got the new (uglier, in my opinion) front end from the Veloster and a bunch of other things, including a track-tuned suspension to sharpen the handling and ride, better tires, and a horsepower increase to 274 at the crank. The neat thing about this motor is that it’s one of the only forced-induction engines on the market that only demands regular fuel, and that too, it sips! I observed a combined 8.2L/100km and an amazing 6.5L/100km on the highway!
The R-Spec Coupé was brought out as a more track-oriented experience devoted to enthusiasts who were begging for such a thing since the beginning of the Genesis. Hyundai also added a Torsen limited slip-differential to the car, and it’s definitely noticeable. The R-Spec is an absolute blast through the corners, and is extremely tail-happy. Popular driving roads are made even more enjoyable in this car, especially when the traction control is turned off. In a straight line however, there is still a ton of room for improvement. The car does go like stink the second the turbo kicks in, but there’s so much turbo lag it feels like an eternity before you actually start going anywhere. The clutch takes a lot of getting used to and still isn’t a pleasant thing to use, especially through traffic. The shifter is precise but still feels a bit rubbery.
The standard feature list in the R-Spec is a bit interesting. Much to my dismay, you actually can’t get one with a sunroof because it ruins the structural rigidity of the car. You also can’t get one with full leather seats, however Hyundai thinks it’s a smart idea to have leatherette bolsters with cloth inserts that really look like they’d be more at home in a Camry. All the expected standard features are in the R-Spec such as Bluetooth, satellite radio, and even 19″ wheels that enhance the already sharp-looking Genesis’ lines.
So, how does the Genesis Coupé R-Spec stack up against the likes of its competitors, namely the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S? Well, I wanted to sample this car after reading review after review saying that compared to these new lightweight tracksters, the Genesis feels like an overweight pig. I don’t disagree necessarily, but at just over 6′ tall, I can understand the appeal in the Genesis. The FR-S is just way too tight to get into. A young bachelor in my 20s, I love the appeal of a two-door, but there’s the odd time when an intoxicated friend or two would need to be transported in the back of my vehicle. I’ve ‘comfortably’ squeezed four full-size adults into my former Mini, and even jammed four 6-footers into a ragtop Mustang. Even so, there’s absolutely no way to put four into an FR-S or BRZ even for short periods. On a track, the Toyobaru twins might be the choice, but as a daily driver, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Genesis with its slightly heavier stature and its less precise handling is the clearcut choice.