Back in 2001, Microsoft introduced a new technology for programmers, and called it ".NET" (pronounced "dot net"). Prior to that time, programmers had to write out a tediously long list of programming instructions to do even the simplest things. .NET transformed programming by providing modules that contained all of the common programming code you could think of, nicely prewritten for you, and incorporated directly into the Windows operating system. Now you didn't have to write hundreds—or even thousands—of lines of code to do a complex procedure. All you had to do was write a single command that called the appropriate routine in .NET, and its prewritten code would go to work. It has become the standard method of doing Windows programming.
The .Net technology saves much programming time and effort, and works wonderfully nearly all the time. Sometimes, though, your program hits the line of code that calls the appropriate .NET module and nothing happens. It doesn't tell you there's an error. It doesn't give you hint that something has gone terribly wrong, except, of course, that you expect something to happen…and it just doesn't.
Which brings us to the 8-speed automatic transmission and flappy-paddle override shifters in the Hyundai Genesis 3.8L Coupe. The whole point of paddle shifters in a sporting automobile is that they are supposed to override the automatic transmission, and put it into a manual mode where the driver controls the transmission. The Genesis Coupe ignores this point.
If you watch the tachometer very carefully, and decide to shift when the RPMs reach 6,000—about 800 RPM short of the redline—the Genesis will simply take that decision out of your hands, and upshift at 5,800 RPM. If you decide to downshift a gear or two, clicking the shifter paddle will transmit your decision to an electronic referee who will judiciously consider your request for a few seconds. There is every chance the referee will reject your request, and downshift at a more appropriate time.
This maddening, health-and-safety-officer aspect of the transmission comes close to completely spoiling the whole driving experience. You'd be better off ignoring the paddle shifters entirely, and pretending that it’s just a straight automatic transmission. Then you won't be disappointed when the transmission does whatever it wants to do anyway. That's a shame, because my expectations of how a flappy-paddle gearbox is supposed to work nearly spoiled the whole experience of what is an otherwise competent sports coupe.
Now, you’re probably thinking that the Genesis is a bit rubbish at this point, but, really, it isn’t.
The 348HP output of the Genesis Coupe’s naturally aspirated 3.8 liter V6 provides 28 more ponies than a BMW 335is, and the Genesis is more than 100 pounds lighter than the portly German coupe. The Beemer still has the edge in acceleration, however, with 332 pound-feet of torque coming out of its straight-six powerplant, while the Genesis can only muster 271 torques, giving the BMW about a 0.2 second edge on the Genesis's 5.2 seconds in a 0-60 drag. On the other hand, with a max sticker price of around $37,000 for a fully kitted out Genesis Coupe, a similarly specced BMW’s 0.2 second edge also comes with an additional $19,000 price tag. You probably won't feel the BMW’s additional acceleration in the seat of your pants, but you'll certainly feel the extra weight of the Bavarian’s sticker price in your wallet. Additionally, Hyundai offers a standard 5-year bumper-to-bumper and 10-year/100,000 mile drive train warranty that adds quite a bit to the Genesis' value proposition.
The difference in sticker price is reflected in the quality of the Genesis' furnishings here and there. The "vents" in the hood are fake. The soft-touch dashboard cover looks a bit like nicely stitched leather, but actually comes from a product made of petroleum rather than cows. The center console has a fair amount of shiny hard plastic. The stereo system is just better than adequate.
Yet, the Genesis has a surprising number of high-end features, such as direct iPod and USB connections, touch-screen sat-nav with traffic, Bluetooth connectivity and voice command, 3-level traction control, leather seats, and a steering wheel that telescopes as well as adjusting for height. The seats are made of real leather, well bolstered, and comfortable. Leg room, for front seat occupants anyway, is quite commodious, indeed. The front seat of the Genesis Coupe is, all things considered, a pretty nice place to be. In fact, it’s a surprisingly nice place considering the budget price. A Subaru WRX STI costs about the same as the Genesis, and the interior of the WRX is so awful that making prisoners of war sit in it would be considered an atrocity. Or, at least, a war crime. The interior of the Genesis, though, is roomy, surprisingly pretty, and comfortable.
There is one interior oddity that I still can't figure out, which is a set of 3 small gauges on the center console for fuel economy, torque, and something else I really don't care about. Not only are they too small to be easily readable from the driver's seat, they present utterly useless information. I can’t imagine a scenario in which you'd need to look at those gauges while driving. "Quick! How many torques is the engine putting out right this moment?!" Who cares? And if you do need the information, you can get it from the big, easily readable touch screen display at a convenient time. The gauges are silly, and I can only imagine they're there because the designers were faced with an excess of blank space on the center console, and this offended them.
On the road—transmission irritations aside—the Genesis Coupe performs quite well. It accelerates strongly, with the 8-speed transmission's short gearing getting the revs into the power zone quickly. The ride is well sorted, firm enough for minimal body roll in the corners, but plush enough to minimize bumps and potholes. Moreover, if you choose the R-spec or Track models, you get a Torsen limited slip diff in the rear, which sorts the Genesis out even better. Though with, it must be said, fewer creature comforts than the Grand Touring model has. In any event, it handles corners with composure, and minimal body roll.
The steering could be a bit sharper, perhaps, and provide more feedback. The car responds well to driver inputs and the front goes where you tell it to go, but it’s not a telepathic, I am one with the machine sort of precision. It’s more of a muscle car feel, but it’s a muscle car that’s comfortable in the corners. The handling is far more capable than you’ll ever need it to be to carve up a public road. The power steering is electric, not hydraulic, and is a bit numb when it comes to feedback, but it does provide progressive resistance as you steer harder into corners. It’s more than good enough for anyone but a demanding purist, and even if the handling isn’t up to the standard of a perfect track machine,it’s well suited to the GT’s mile-eating tourer personality.
The Genesis Coupe has full traction and stability control, and it’s an annoying little git at the highest level, as these things always are. Turn it down a notch, however, and it doesn’t kick in until you really begin pushing the envelope, which allows you to push the rear-end about a bit. But the yaw control will—unless you are biblically stupid—still prevent you from doing something that might send you backwards into a tree.
Unlike many other cars with sporting pretensions—I’m looking at you, VW Golf R—you can also turn the traction control completely off and the Genesis, like any proper rear-wheel drive sports car, will become prone to oversteer. It's still stable, and gives you plenty of warning as you reach the edge of grip, but you can find yourself exploring high speeds backwards in a cloud of tire smoke. This is an option best reserved for track days, but is, after all, exactly how a rear wheel drive sports car is supposed to work.
The big Brembo brakes are quite a treat on the Genesis. They will haul you to a stop with awesome reliability, and are quite fade-resistant. The Genesis squirms a bit under hard braking, but holds a straight line, and remains fully controllable thanks to the ABS system. The ABS system is also smooth and free of annoying on-again, off-again juddering. Braking in the Genesis is just stellar in every way.
The back seats are pretty easy to get into for a sport coupe, but if you put adults back there, be sure to choose people who won't mind a few nasty knocks on the head from the side windows when the pace gets spirited. In terms of headroom, the rear of the cabin is a kids-only affair, I'm afraid. Though, if you have kids, you're probably not buying a sport coupe anyway.
But apparently you will be expected to play golf, as there’s a chart on the inside of the trunk lid showing you how to stow two golf club bags. Moreover, the roomy if relatively shallow trunk has a full pass-though into the cabin when the foldable rear seats are down. There's plenty of room for groceries back there, which makes the Genesis Coupe practical in exactly the same way the Nissan 370Z is not.
The Genesis Coupe is a good car. It's even a good sports car. It has some irritations, but it also has a pretty high fun factor with its fantastic brakes, competent chassis, and willing engine. The Genesis may not fully satisfy purists, but when you factor in the max price of $37,000, it's nearly impossible to find another car that has this combination of power, well-sorted ride, braking, and handling. The sticker price makes the Genesis a great value.