Quick Drive: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec

By Brandon Turkus

June 25, 2012

—Lake Orion, Michigan
Much like the Jaguar we covered last week, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 sits outside of the traditionally defined niches for its class. Let us explain. With 348-horsepower and a lower curb weight it’s decidedly spicier than the V-6-powered Mustang/Camaro/Challenger trio.
Its two extra seats mean it’s not a proper competitor for the 370Z sports car, and its reasonable price and lower-rent interior keep it from legitimately challenging the Infiniti G37 Coupe. Finally, its lack of oomph means it’ll never match the straight-line prowess of the GT/SS/R/T versions of the aforementioned Americans.
[Click here to read our review of the 2013 Ford Mustang V6 Premium]
So where does the Genesis sit in the coupe spectrum? Well, the honest answer is everywhere. We’ll elaborate on what we mean later, but suffice it to say that this is a vehicle that’ll appeal to a variety of buyers.
For now though, we’re focusing on the affordable performance crowd. In particular, we spent a week with the base Coupe 3.8 R-Spec. While we say base, the R-Spec has the tools to deliver some serious performance. It borrows the Torsen limited-slip differential, track-tuned suspension, and Brembo brakes from the top-of-the-range 3.8 Track. The R-Spec also cuts out all the stuff that doesn’t help performance (navigation, xenon headlights, etc.).
The first time we ran the 348-horsepower, 295-pound-foot V-6 through the six forward gears was enough for us to fall in love. While the car was plenty quick, it was the sound that really impacted us. Hyundai’s use of an induction pipe to send noise into the cabin was just the sort of involvement booster we like.
On-road, the induction pipe system was similar to a dual-mode exhaust, in that we didn’t get too much volume when puttering around. Dipping into the throttle, though, we were treated to a sweet, sonorous V-6 engine note. While we really enjoyed it at first, after the novelty wore off we started to notice that it sounded a little artificial and seemed to come from everywhere in the cabin, rather than from the dash area. This was a little gripe, but we imagine it’d wear on us if we spent more time behind the wheel.
As for the engine’s actual performance, we felt that the V-6 is the type that needed to be kept on the boil. There wasn’t much low-end torque, which necessitated downshifts for passing maneuvers. Once we dipped into the middle and higher parts of the range, power felt abundant. This fits well with Hyundai’s claimed 6400-rpm horsepower peak and 5100-rpm torque peak. These high power peaks might not be great for out and out drivability but they were a boon to overall involvement.
When we originally drove the Genesis Coupe at the launch in Las Vegas, we leaned towards the turbocharged car as the handling champion. Having a chance to evaluate the 3.8 on road hasn’t changed that opinion. The 3.8 Coupe still felt rather nose-heavy, and lacked the sharp turn-in of the 2.0T. There’s more body roll, but it developed in a progressive manner.
The electronic nannies in the Genesis kept us out of trouble for the most part. Really gassing it around bends still caused the tail to kick out, but the stability and traction control arrested things before there was ever a chance of losing the car. With the controls off, the Genesis moved around under power, but there was a level of feedback flowing through the chassis that made it relatively easy to interpret how much grip was left. Even when the tail did start wagging, it did so progressively. We found merely keeping the power down was enough to straighten things out.
If we had one complaint with the Genesis Coupe, it’s the same one we leveled on it at the launch: this gearbox is a pain. It felt notchy and required too much effort to get it into its gate. The clutch is a little bit too grabby, which made it difficult to adjust to. This isn’t enough to completely turn us off to the Genesis, and we suspect we’d end up getting used to it. It is worth keeping in mind, though.
The Genesis Coupe doesn’t have the straight-line thrust of a Ford Mustang GT or Chevrolet Camaro SS. It doesn’t have the finely crafted interior of an Infiniti G37. And it’s not the out-and-out sports car that the Nissan 370Z is. But Hyundai has managed to take what makes those cars great, blend it together, and slap a sticker on the window that undercuts every car listed above. If you can’t decide on a sports coupe, buy a Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Odds are, you’ll be pretty darn happy you did.
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec
Engine: V-6, 3.8 liters, 24v
Output: 348 hp/295 lb-ft
Weight: 3433 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.2 sec
Top Speed: 149 mph
Base Price: $28,750