Hyundai’s rear-wheel-drive Camaro (and Mustang) fighter gets a significant power bump for 2013 – from both its standard turbo four and its optional V-6. There’s also a new eight-speed automatic on the roster – available with either engine.
Ok, the bad news:
It appears likely there will never be a V-8 version of the Genesis coupe – something that had been anticipated since this car’s launch back in 2010. That means this otherwise outstanding car may never get the underhood ammo it needs to be a credible threat as a muscle car, as opposed to being a merely sporty car.
Just before this review was written in early September, Hyundai announced the outright cancellation of the Genesis sedan’s formerly available 4.6 liter V-8 and the shunting of the formerly mass-market 5.0 liter V-8 to the low-production (and higher cost) R-Spec version of the sedan. That’s bad news for the Genesis coupe – as far as the odds of it ever getting a V-8.
It’s not just Hyundai saying sayonara to V-8s, either.
V-8s are being taken off the front lines en masse as mass-production engines because of pending government fuel-efficiency (CAFE) edicts – 35.5 in 2016 and 54.5 in 2025 – which they can’t meet and which would therefore result in lost profit to the car companies and higher costs to consumers if they were still being made in serious numbers.
So, although it’s conceivable Hyundai may develop an ultra-performance, V-8 powered version of the Genesis coupe at some point down the line, it seems certain there will never be a reasonably affordable (as in $30k-ish) and so, mass market – V-8 powered version of the Genesis coupe. The economics of it just aren’t there – courtesy of the edicts coming out of Washington.
That goes for Mustang and Camaro too, by the way.
Chevy may continue to build $55,000 (and thus, very low volume) ZL1s. And Ford may continue to squeak out a handful of $42,000 Boss 302s. Because a few thousand of these out the door every year won’t kill GM or Ford’s CAFE numbers – and the comfortably affluent people who can afford $40k-plus won’t chafe at paying another few thousand if they have to.
But the mass-market V-8 Camaro and Mustang are as surely doomed, courtesy of the pending CAFE regs, as the probably stillborn V-8 Genesis. You can thank the Man With The Plan (you know who that is) for this depressing turn of events.
But, it’s not all bad. And regardless, we’ve got to work with what we’re given.
Which in this case, isn’t half-bad.
WHAT IT IS
The Genesis coupe is a sporty mid-sized (and RWD) two-plus-two, Korea’s first attempt to directly challenge traditional American performance coupe icons Camaro and Mustang.
It differs somewhat in being smaller – and lighter – and offering a standard turbo four and an optional V-6 vs. the standard sixes and optional V-8s in its domestic competitors. As mentioned above, it’s more a sporty car than a muscle car – at least relative to the V-8 versions of Camaro and Mustang. However, it stands up pretty solidly against the V-6 versions of those cars – offering enthusiast drivers an alternative to them in looks – and origin – yet with similar driving characteristics.
The Genesis also faces competition from the all-new Scion FR-S ($24,200 to start) although the Scion is a much smaller (compact-sized) car – and offers much less power (just 200 hp) and less ferocious straight-line performance.
Base price for a ’13 Genesis with turbocharged 2.0 liter engine and six speed manual transmission is $24,250 – right there with with base price of the 2013 Chevy Camaro coupe ($23,345) and Ford Mustang coupe ($22,200).
A V-6 equipped Genesis with six-speed manual trans starts at $28,750. With the eight-speed automatic and the optional Track Package – which includes a strut tower brace and upgraded brakes, among other things – the MSRP is $34,250 – in the same ballpark as the V-8 powered Camaro SS (base price $32,635) and V-8 powered Mustang GT (base price $30,300).
Both Genesis engines get significantly stronger for 2013. The standard 2.0 turbo four is up to 274 hp (vs. 210 previously) and the optional 3.8 V-6 has been goosed to 348 hp (vs. 306 last year).
Also new is an available eight-speed automatic, as well as exterior and interior cosmetic tweaks.
RWD coupe performance in a still-affordable package, both to buy – and feed.
The un-Mustang (and not-Camaro). Something similar – but still different.
Smokes the new Scion FR-S (and Subaru BRZ) in a straight-up drag race.
People-viable back seats.
Neat gauge package, including analog torque meter.
Industry-best warranty package.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
No V-8 option – probably forever.
Turbo four’s mileage about the same as stronger, higher-performing V-6s in Camaro and Mustang.
Optional V-6 is fairly thirsty – a little pricey – and can’t match the performance of V-8 Camaro or Mustang.
UNDER THE HOOD
Unlike Mustang and Camaro – which come standard with fairly large (and naturally aspirated) V-6 engines – the Genesis comes standard with a much smaller 2.0 liter turbocharged (and direct gas injected) four. It makes 274 hp now – a very impressive 64 hp uptick achieved via a new twin-scroll turbocharger and larger intercooler. The result is a much quicker car: Zero to 60 now takes about 5.7 seconds vs. 6.8 for the old 210 hp version of the Genesis coupe. And there’s muscle car-quick quarter-mile capability, too: 14.2 seconds at just under 100 mph – vs. low 15s for the old car.
These stats, by the way, put a Grand Canyon’s gulf between the Genesis and the just-launched Scion FR-S (and its Subaru twin, the BRZ). The Scion does 0-60 in 6.6 seconds – nearly a full second behind the Hyundai. The BRZ (which is heavier) is even slower. It takes 7.2-7.3 seconds to get to 60.
Even better, there’s no penalty at the pump for the additional power and performance. The 274 hp engine returns 21 city, 30 highway when teamed with the manual (20 city, 31 highway with the optional eight-speed automatic – which is actually just slightly better than the previous 210 hp car’s 21 city, 30 highway).
The 2013 Mustang – which costs less to start – comes standard with a 305 hp 3.7 liter V-6 that’s capable of getting the car to 60 in 5.6 seconds and delivering 19 MPG city, 31 MPG highway. Dead heat. The Chevy Camaro comes standard with an even stronger 3.6 liter V-6 that produces 323 hp and 19 city, 30 highway – with comparable zero to 60 capability.
And the Ford and Chevy are just getting started.
You can beat the V-6 Camaro and Mustang in a drag race if you move up to the V-6 powered version of the Genesis, which packs a 348 hp punch and can deliver you to 60 MPH in close to 5 seconds flat and does the quarter in the high 13s. MPGs with this engine are, however, much lower than the turbo four’s – and not much better than the big gun V-8s that are optional in the Camaro and Mustang.
Best case is 18 city, 28 highway with the optional eight-speed automatic. The V-8 Mustang GT – with 420 hp and capable of getting to 60 in 4.7 seconds – rates 18 city, 25 highway (with the manual transmission).
The Genesis V-6 does better against the powerful – but overweight – Chevy Camaro SS. Despite its 6.2 liter V-8 and its 426 hp, the beefy (4,000 lbs-plus vs. 3,362 lbs. for the Genesis) and considerably more expensive to start SS Camaro’s 0-60 time is about the same as the Genesis V-6’s: 5 seconds flat.
And the Chevy’s gas mileage is slightly worse: 16 city, 24 highway.
So, very competitive – despite the V-6 Hyundai’s having two fewer cylinders – and 78 fewer hp underhood.
Hyundai offers two performance packages – handling improvement packages, actually.
First up is R-Spec trim, which includes a more aggressive 19 inch wheel/tire package (vs. the otherwise standard 18-inch wheels/tires), high-capacity Brembo brakes (accent powder coated, too), firmer suspension settings, a limited slip rear differential and cosmetic upgrades inside and out. This ups the MSRP to $26,500.
V-6 coupes can also be ordered with the R-Spec equipment ($28,750) as well as the Track Package ($33,000 with manual) that includes a rear spoiler and strut tower bracing. You can also order an automatic-equipped 3.8 liter Track Genesis ($34,250).
All versions of the Genesis put the power down via the rear wheels – of course.
ON THE ROAD
No question, the straight-line performance of the ’13 Genesis – both versions – is much better than previously. This is happy news – especially since it doesn’t cost you anything more at the pump. Either version is a credible performer. You have your choice of quick – and quicker.
Nothing wrong with that.
The problem – for Hyundai – is that it may not be enough of an uptick to steer buyers away from the similarly powerful/quick and comparably fuel-sippy V-6 versions of the Camaro and Mustang. Let alone the V-8 powered versions of those competitors – which are only slightly piggier than the V-6 Genesis yet which offer much more power/performance. Especially the $30,300 (to start) 420 hp and 4.7 second to 60 Mustang GT, priced alarmingly close to the $28,750 to start V-6 Genesis.
Hyundai does have a card to play, though – if you’re interested in more than just zero to 60 times and hp stats.
The Genesis is a much lighter and smaller car – especially relative to the physically enormous Camaro. So it handles and feels more like a sports car than a bulky muscle car. This isn’t to imply that the Mustang and Camaro can’t corner – or corner clumsily. They can – and don’t. But drive them hard – then drive the Genesis hard – and you will be well-aware of the sheer difference in mass. Even the Mustang – which at 3,618 lbs. is a flyweight compared to the two-ton Camaro – is still a couple of hundred of pounds heavier than the Genesis. Unsprung mass can be damped – and a big, heavy car can be made to handle well – but it will almost always still feel heavy.
What the Genesis gives you is a more FR-S-like handling experience – but with the straight-line punch a car like the 200 hp FR-S hasn’t got.
AT THE CURB
Here again, vive la difference.
Where the domestic muscle cars are, well … muscular – the Genesis is more toned. Hulking bodybuilders – vs. a “cut” middleweight UFC fighter.
They’re all aggressive-looking cars, but the Genesis is a very different-looking car. Clearly not-American. Clearly not an American-style performance coupe. It has more in common, aesthetically, with import performance coupes such as the Scion FR-S. Or the Mitsubishi Eclipse. This is either a plus – or a minus – depending on what you find attractive.
For 2013, Hyundai has added dummy hood slats to the mix, plus an angrier- looking front end with a great big maw of an intake set off by a fat matt-painted horizontal bar that – to me – suggests an animal champing at the bit. It’s without question a more striking look than the original.
Inside, you’ll find a handsome if not equally distinctive dash layout, with a few unique touches such as an available real-time (and analog) torque-meter that tells you exactly how many lbs.-ft. the engine’s putting down at any given moment.
As mentioned already, the Genesis coupe is a fairly small car overall – especially relative to the Camaro, which is 190.4 inches long overall (that’s just under 16 feet) and 75.5 inches wide through its hips vs. 182.3 inches for the Genesis, end to end – and 73.4 inches through its hips. Even the Mustang – which is a better-packaged (and proportioned) car than Camaro – is still six inches longer (188.1 inches) though similarly narrow through the hips (73.9 inches).
Interestingly, the wheelbase of the Genesis – 111 inches – is only slightly less than that of the much larger overall Camaro (112.3 inches) and four inches longer than the Mustang’s (107.1 inches).
It also provides for a remarkably roomy (for a two-plus-two coupe) back seat. During the week I had the Genesis, my wife’s sister was here. She was able to sit back there without her knees scrunched up against the front seat back – without my wife having to scrunch her seat full forward. Now, my wife’s sister is not Ichabod Crane. She’s only about five feet four. But, still. Usable back seats – for a lot of people, at least.
In fact, the Genesis – remember, a smaller car overall – has a bit more backseat legroom (30.3 inches) than either Camaro (29.9 inches) or Mustang (29.8 inches). And the FR-S? Forget about it! That car has back seats – technically.
The only area where the Genesis comes up short relative to the domestic pony cars when it comes to interior capacity is trunk space-wise. There’s just 10 cubic feet vs. 11.3 for Camaro and 13.4 for the Mustang. (The FR-S has a mere 7 cubic feet.)
Hyundai may get mad at me, but I am not a fan of the new Blue Link telematics system that allows voice text messaging (among other things). I don’t mean to single out Hyundai, because other car companies offer (or soon will offer) similar technology. I just hate the idea, generally. When you’re behind the wheel, drive the car – text (and talk) later. When you’re not driving. I have no objection to the navigation assistance and vehicle updates the system provides.
Others have commented – and I agree with these comments – that the new eight speed automatic can be a little slow to react sometimes, probably a function (at least when your are in D) of needing to drop down two gears sometimes, as when you suddenly floor it to pass someone. You can, however, sidestep this by using the S (sport) mode and paddle shifters to keep the transmission in the gear you want it to be in – when you want it to be in that gear.
One final nit to pick: The traction control system comes in too soon – and too aggressively – at least, for a performance-minded car. The good news is you can easily turn it off – all the way off.
Hyundai’s warranty coverage is still pick of the litter. Five years and 60,000 miles for the whole car; ten years and 100k on the drivetrain. Ford only gives you three years and 36,000 miles on the car and five years and 60k on the drivetrain. GM provides the same three/36k basic warranty as Ford but gives you a slightly better five year, 100k warranty on the Camaro’s drivetrain.
Genesis walks the line between the world of Camaro and Mustang – bigger, heavier modern incarnations of the classic muscle car concept – and smaller, lighter – but lower performance (straight line) sports cars like the FR-S. It has the potential to go toe-to-toe with the muscle cars, if Hyundai can somehow do an end-run around Uncle and slide a V-8 into the thing.
Since that’s not likely to happen, we’ll have to make do. Of the two versions, I’d probably go with the turbo four myself. It’s plenty quick enough to be credible (and a lot of fun) while also being capable of 30 on the highway and not costing all that much up front – especially relative to something slower (and smaller) that costs about the same – like the Scion FR-S.
The V-6 version is also fun but it’s harder to make a case for it given how close it is, price-wise, to something that’s a lot more fun like a V-8 Mustang GT.
Just my 50.
Throw it in the Woods?