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Published on Mon, Aug 29, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec

Last year, Hyundai introduced the Genesis Coupe, which wreaked a bit of havoc in the ponycar community, besting some Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers in comparison tests. This year, Hyundai steps up the game with a hot new 3.8 R-Spec model. To the standard 306-horsepower V6 and six-speed manual transmission, the R-Spec adds special 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes with 13.4-inch ventilated front rotors, an R-Spec suspension, a limited slip differential, R-Spec seats with larger bolsters, and R-Spec badging in all the right areas. John-Fredrik Wright reports By John-Fredrik Wright A common quote, having to do with Hyundai: “Hyundai has come a long way.” Another one: “Forget the Hyundai of years ago, check out the new ones and you’ll be amazed.” And then there is that annoying radio commercial with “Hyundai, Hyundai, Hyundai!” chanted by the same person who seems to do all car commercials (or do radio commercial-talkers just all sound the same?). Nonetheless, Hyundai has come a long way, it’s true. Heck, we purchased a new Elantra just a couple of weeks ago (great car, BTW). So, I was looking forward to driving the Genesis Coupe; especially since our sample wears the 3.8 R-Spec badge.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

A short while ago, we did a story on the Genesis sedan (LINK). The take was, that although it might not live up to a Mercedes yet, the Genesis is on its way. With that article’s impressions and my own experiences from sitting in new Hyundais while shopping for a car, my expectations were high for the Coupe. Unfortunately, I feel a little let down. Maybe it’s because I had recently driven a Nissan 370Z, which blew my socks off, and my preset feelings towards sport car coupes were not matched in the Genesis. But maybe the comparison 370Z versus Genesis is an unfair one since the price gap between the two cars (as tested) is more than $15,000. Yeah, that is not fair. So let’s look at the Genesis Coupe R-Spec for what it is: A $27,000 coupe that is meant to be fun without killing your wallet—kind of like an entry-level coupe, beefed up. The 3.8L V6 is fun, with ample power, and the Brembo brakes are great when the fun gets a little out of control. The rear tires will squeak a little if you’re too heavy on the gas, as they should, but there is not enough power to get into trouble too quickly. You’ll have a couple of seconds before the rear slips out, even with the ESP disengaged.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

The car looks great, although the front reminds me a little of the Ford Cougar, which is not always a good thing. The Genesis Coupe seems wide and with a stance that seems always ready to pounce. Kinda like a Cougar. Moving on, the interior has what you need, without having all of the fun features that sometimes are asked for. Standard, which is what the R-Spec I’m in is, has a trip computer and XM radio. The interior looks and feels solid, but not luxurious—and the seats are comfortable, but not the obvious recipient of any comfort-prizes. The ride is stiff, as expected, and cornering is easily controllable. Even if the Genesis Coupe doesn’t ride like a Ferrari, it definitely rides like the sports car it is. The manual transmission is sporty, yet it’s easy to get used to. The clutch is not spring-loaded like some other sports cars (which makes it easier to drive under more normal, cruising, conditions). The major drawback with the manual transmission is that reverse is located right next to 1st gear, without any special actions required to get it there. At least once a day, I managed to stick it in reverse instead of 1st gear. Usually, this happened at stoplights when I might have looked up, realized that it was green, and then quickly moved the lever towards first, missing it and winding up in reverse. Obviously someone at Hyundai figured out this problem, and installed a chime that sounds whenever you put the car into reverse. So, before I had a chance to start going backwards against my will, I was notified and could correct the problem. Still though, I expect a better solution for next year.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

All in all, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec will do several jobs well. Transporting people in style with a sporty look in a car that is not found everywhere. Check. Allow drivers to experience a sports car for under $30,000. Check. Not breaking the bank in gas-charges with highway mpg of 26. Check. Like with the Hyundai brand in general, the Genesis Coupe, and especially the R-Spec, will positively surprise drivers and passengers alike. Definitely a car that should be driven if you are looking for a sports car in this price range, and definitely, as Hyundai progresses even further, a contender for the high-performance class in a couple of years. For more information on Hyundai products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec M/T Price: $26,750 (base) $27,705 (as tested with delivery charge and carpeted floor mats) EPA fuel economy rating: 17 mpg (city) 26 mpg (highway) Engine size and type: 3.8L V6 DOHC 24V Dual CVVT Horsepower: 306 @ 6300 rpm Torque: 266 pound-feet @ 4700 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed manual transmission Drive configuration: Rear-wheel drive Steering (type): Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering Suspension (front and rear): Front suspension: Independent dual-link MacPherson strut with gas-charged shocks Rear suspension: 5-link independent monotube gas-charged shocks Brakes and tires: Brembo® Braking System 225/45VR18 front 245/45VR18 rear Dimensions: Length: 182.3 in Width: 73.4 in Height: 54.5 in Curb weight: 3389 lbs

2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

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