The Genesis R-Spec is all performance, all the time; there’s no “mute” button to calm it down.
Hyundai has made a few serious changes to their sports car for the 2015 model year. The most important of these changes is the elimination of the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This now means that the car that once competed directly against the Scion FR-S, the Mazda MX-5 and to some degree, the Ford Focus ST, is now V6 only. This gives it a significant power advantage, but what about the price? The last Genesis 3.8GT we tested was north of $37,000. This model though, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec, is considerably cheaper than that.
The R-Spec is the performance-oriented model – it’s the Genesis that’s best suited for track days and autocross circuits. However, it still shares the same stunning lines and design cues that got me into the Genesis to begin with. The model year 2013 facelift, the only serious revision the car has had since its 2010 introduction, has taken a few years to grow on me. Now though, I do like the way the body lines flow and I’ve warmed up to the front fascia. The halogen projector headlights have a crisp cutoff, and I expect a huge percentage of buyers to upgrade these to a high-intensity discharge setup at some point.
Now that the 2.0T is gone, the Genesis R-Spec only has one engine option; the 3.8L direct-injected V6. Pushing 348 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, your nearest Hyundai dealership is the cheapest factory car to offer nearly 350 horsepower. This motor is perhaps this car’s biggest asset. It’s smooth, sounds fantastic, and rockets the coupé to your desired speed very quickly. The 3.8L likes the top end of the rev range, and eagerly scoots in every gear. It feels like a legitimate performance car and not a souped-up version of something less dynamic, like the Ford Focus ST.
It’s not all about straight-line power, and Hyundai knows that. That’s why the R-Spec comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, a unique sport-calibrated suspension, Torsen limited-slip differential, front strut tower brace, performance summer tires, and a Brembo braking system – all standard fare! The Brembos are four-piston monobloc calipers with 340mm ventilated rotors in front, and two-piston calipers in the back with 330mm rotors. The steering is direct and extremely responsive – the Genesis will change direction quickly while producing excellent feedback through the wheel. Enthusiasts will not be disappointed here.
The Genesis R-Spec is all performance, all the time; there’s no “mute” button to calm it down. Its six-speed manual transmission has a serious learning curve to it, and the shifter is rubbery and a little bit vague. I’ve now learned how to drive the car properly and never mis-shift, but it did take a good amount of practice. The clutch is on the heavier side for this segment and it’s not exactly easy to find its bite point, but after a few hours, the transmission became second nature to me. By no means would I opt for the optional eight-speed automatic – this car is meant to be driven by purists, but the transmission is the Achilles’ heel of the coupé.
With regards to close competition, the Genesis R-Spec’s biggest rival right now is the Nissan 370Z in base model spec. Both cars have their strengths and weaknesses – the Nissan is a more refined, calm drive, but the Genesis is quicker, more powerful, and more performance-oriented. In order to get things like a limited-slip differential and Nissan’s slick rev-matching technology, it’s required to step up to a more expensive model. A huge selling point for Hyundai is the fact that the R-Spec, priced at just $29,499, is the only way to get nearly 350 horsepower under $30,000. This is a serious performance bargain.
Three hundred and fifty horses do take a toll on fuel economy, but I spent a good chunk of my time with the Genesis on the highway. Hyundai suggests 14.4L/100km in the city and 9.9L/100km on the highway, with a combined rating of 12.4L/100km. I averaged 10.8L/100km on premium 91-octane fuel with a good amount of spirited acceleration. Hyundai also says that this car can get away with regular fuel, but in the past, we’ve noticed significant performance, smoothness, and efficiency gains using premium.
On the inside, Hyundai provides unique R-Spec seats with the perfect amount of bolstering. Unlike the Recaros in the Ford Mustang, these seats adapt for comfort when you’re not ripping around the racetrack and provide great support when you are. The headrests remain adjustable and the driving position overall is also very good. Even with the small windows, blind spots are minimal and the Genny is an adequate place to spend time even if you’re in rush hour (as long as your knee can endure the heavy clutch!).
The interior of the Genesis is a pleasant enough place to be, and there are three clean gauges in the centre console which provide analog diagnostics of instant torque, fuel economy, and oil temperature. There are some factors that I wasn’t too keen on, though. For instance, this model has the previous-generation Hyundai stereo, which requires use of their proprietary iPod cable. They’ve provided a nice little cubby in the dash for your device, but the cable itself is so big that the cubby won’t close while your device is connected. This is only a big nuisance for me because the dash is otherwise nicely laid out. Additionally, I’d be fine with the lack of an intelligent key system if the key was a little bit more modern than the two-piece key and remote that looks like it’s straight out of a decade-old Accent.
It may not be without its flaws, but the 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec provides exceptional value. In North America, there’s legitimately no other car that delivers this much power for under $30,000, and it does this while offering legitimate performance upgrades like its full Brembo brake system. This car is proof that Hyundai is putting in a legitimate effort to be competitive in the high-demand performance segment, and it remains a serious competitor to more-expensive, less-powerful cars available today. With how well the current-generation car has stood up to the test of time, I seriously anticipate the next model, expected any day now…