Nowadays, most automakers redesign their cars every six years or so, and in between they do a "mid-cycle refresh," in which they alter the styling, add some new features, maybe bump up the power a bit. Sometimes a mid-cycle refresh will fix serious problems, but most of the time, it's just change for the sake of change. In the case of a car which originally got everything right, the refresh can actually make things worse.
I figured the refreshed 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe would fit into the latter category.
A long list of what's new
The Genesis Coupe is a rear-wheel-drive sports car that Hyundai introduced in 2010, and they got it just about perfect from the start: It was quick, affordable, easy to live with, and a lot of fun to drive. Everyone I know who bought one is as happy as can be.
I bet when they see the 2013 version, they ain't gonna be quite so happy. Because this is one of those rare cases where an automaker took a really good car and made it better. A lot better.
Let's start with a laundry-list of what's new (and be warned, it's a long one). All models get updated front-end styling (link goes to photo), including a new hood. (Hyundai was quick to point out what an extravagance this is; automakers often change plastic bits during a refresh but leave the expensive metalwork alone.) Inside, the center stack has been redesigned, and the GenCoupe finally (!!) gets a telescope (in-and-out) adjustment for the steering wheel.
And as you'd expect, the big news is under the hood. The 2.0 liter four-cylinder gets a new turbo and a bigger intercooler, and power is way the hell up -- from 210 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque (rated on regular 87-octane gas) to 274 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque on premium fuel and 260/260 on regular. The 3.8 liter V6 gets direct fuel injection (What's that?) and a bump from 306 hp/266 lb-ft to 348 hp and 295 lb-ft on hi-test and 344/292 on the cheap stuff. The 6-speed manual has been improved for better shift feel, and all automatics now have 8 speeds and paddle shifters. Springs and shocks have been mildly retuned, and my one major complaint has been addressed: The Genesis Coupe's electronic stability control system now has a Sport mode.
Change for the better
So how does it all come together? Amazingly well. I didn't think this car needed much improvement, but I love the changes they've made.
Let's start with the 2-liter: You can definitely feel that extra 64 hp and 50 lb-ft. In fact, passing power between the 2-liter and the V6 is almost a toss-up. The engine's best traits remain intact: Turbo lag is minimal, even in the automatics; that 8-speed is a big help, keeping the engine well within its broad powerband. But the biggest weak spot also remains: The four-cylinder is a noisy engine, and while I don't mind the harsh buzz under heavy acceleration, it doesn't go away when you're cruising at speed on the highway.
The difference in power isn't as pronounced with the V6, but it's still quick enough to quicken the pulse. I've always liked the sound of the 3.8; for 2013, Hyundai has added an intake resonator that makes it sound sweeter than ever. Given a choice, I'll usually go for a smaller, lighter engine, but in the case of the Genesis Coupe, I might well go for the V6 based purely on the full-throttle engine note.
Handling feels as good as ever; pushed to its limits, the Genesis Coupe is grippy, well-balanced, responsive, and very well behaved, although all it takes is some wet pavement to remind you that this is a powerful rear-wheel-drive car.
Which brings me to the improved stability control system. This was my biggest complaint about the Genesis Coupe: When I drove one on the About.com Top Secret Curvy Test Road, it seemed that every time I came out of a corner, I'd put my foot down to lay on the power and get nothing. All it took was the slightest slip or bump to trip the ESC, which would temporarily cut the throttle. (I'm too cowardly-slash-smart to turn ESC off, as powerful rear-drive cars will spin if provoked, and I have no desire to die by flinging myself off a cliff in a Hyundai. A Lamborghini, maybe.)
For 2013, Hyundai has added a partial-off "sport" mode which shuts down the traction control component (which prevents wheelspin) while leaving the stability control component intact. This essentially eliminating the two-second power penalty, but will still save your bacon if you do something particularly bone-headed. The system worked well on the relatively smoothly-paved racetrack at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, but from my experience with similar systems, I think it'll work just as well on the Top Secret Curvy Test Road. (If nothing else, this gives me an excuse to drive the Genesis Coupe again. Aces!)
And what of the cosmetic changes? The new front-end styling gives the car a more aggressive look, to which it is most certainly entitled. And I really like the new center stack -- it's fun to watch the three auxiliary gauges (real-time MPG, oil temperature, and turbo boost or torque, depending on engine) bouncing around as you drive.
Better... and priced accordingly
The 2013 Genesis Coupe model lineup is similar to last year. 2.0T models are offered in Base, Premium, and R-Spec trims, while the 3.8 V6 comes in Grand Touring, R-Spec, and Track models. The 2.0T Base car is pretty well equipped, with power everything, air conditioning, and an iPod compatible stereo. Premium and Grand Touring models are geared towards comfort and luxury, while the R-Spec models eschew cruise control and an automatic transmission for bigger wheels, a stiffer suspension, Brembo brakes, optional limited-slip differential, and owner-installable camber adjustment bolts that allow fine-tuning of the car's response and handling balance. The 3.8 Track mixes the comfort of the Grand Touring with the R-Spec's performance upgrades.
Pricing for the 2.0T base model starts at $25,125 with a manual transmission and $26,375 with an automatic, while the top-of-the-line 3.8 Track automatic tops out at $35,125. Those prices reflect an increase of $2,000 over last year's car. Ouch! I guess Hyundai has finally decided to start charging what the Genesis Coupe is actually worth.
As always, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe has no clear-cut rival. It's a proper rear-wheel-drive sports coupe, which puts it a rung above front-drive coupes like the Scion tC and even the Volkswagen GTI, yet it's more affordable than cars like the 370Z and more of a serious performer than pony cars like the Camaro, Challenger, and Mustang. I've always liked the Genesis Coupe, and with the latest round of updates, I like it better than ever. -- Aaron Gold
What I liked about the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe:
- Powerful engines
- Good fun to drive
- Pleasant to drive every day
What I didn't like about the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
- 2.0T engine is buzzy on the highway
- Small back seat and trunk
- Not the bargain it once was
- Genesis Coupe is Hyundai's rear-drive sports car, updated for 2013
- Price range: $25,125 - $35,125
- Powertrain: 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cyl/274 hp or 3.8 liter V6/348 hp, 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
- EPA fuel economy estimates: 21 MPG city/30 MPG highway (2.0T manual), 20/31 (2.0T automatic), 18/27 (3.8 manual), 18/28 (3.8 automatic)
- Best rivals: Nissan 370Z, Ford Mustang, Scion tC