WHY do we like rear-wheel-drive cars?
Driving enthusiasts might say it's because of their inherent balance.
The front wheels of front-drive cars are taxed with added responsibility to both accelerate AND steer the vehicle, while all-wheel drive can add weight and mechanical complexity.
On a philosophical level, there's just something more pure and true to form in a rear-drive vehicle. But unfortunately, numerous factors favour the more common front-wheel-drive cars so it's the rear-wheel-drive cars that are rarer than ever.
Luckily for us, several manufacturers have recently prevailed against the odds to provide us with some genuine rear-drive sports cars, with starting prices around the $25,000 mark. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe is one of those cars. The updated 2013 model flaunts a fresh new look, a ton more power, and it still has a very attractive price tag.
While the Genesis Coupe has done plenty to increase the performance image of the Hyundai brand, it's positioned in the middle of the sports coupe segment. It doesn't offer the retro styling and tradition of "pony" cars like the Camaro or Mustang, nor does it possess the lightweight fun factor from new arrivals such as the Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ. So what does the Hyundai Genesis Coupe offer that other cars don't? In one word: value.
Sometimes being caught in the middle of two other vehicles is a good thing. You can poach sales from both sides without being a direct competitor with either one.
And so it is for the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. With a turbo four which draws on the characteristics of the Japanese brands, and a strong-running V-6 that edges itself towards Detroit brands, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is adequately equipped to do battle with both.
The latest Genesis Coupe also gets a fresh look - one that's more aggressive and muscular - especially up front with the new fascia featuring larger air intakes and a more menacing hood. Down the sides, the Z-shaped bodylines remain but are set off by new wheels with a more sculpted look that are available in 18 or 19 inches. At the back, the LED's highlight a new tail lamp design, while down low, asymmetric exhaust tips add some flash to the black diffuser.
Interior updates are minor but include new materials throughout that are a bit more inviting. The gauges are upgraded with electroluminescent lighting and a new information centre. All models have now added the necessary telescoping to the steering wheel. The R-Spec model features seats with red leather bolstering and cloth inserts. Red trim finds its way onto the door panels as well. Hyundai's Blue Link telematics is available on some models. Performance
For 2013, the 3.8-litre V-6 has been updated with direct injection providing 42 more horsepower, for a total of 348 h.p., and 29 more foot-pounds of torque, to 295 foot-pounds. The 2.0litre four cylinder receives a new twin-scroll turbocharger and a larger, more thermally efficient intercooler. The result of this colder and denser air is a 30 per cent increase in h.p. and a 23 per cent increase in torque for a total of 274 h.p. and 275 foot-pounds of torque.
Off the line, you can easily feel the additional torque but there's still plenty of grip for a good launch. The new V-6 will comfortably propel the Genesis Coupe from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in the lower five second range on its way to an impressive 240 km/h electronically limited top speed. The standard six-speed transmission had to be tweaked to provide more feel and indeed it is very precise. A new eight-speed automatic is available to those who prefer just to enjoy the car without worrying about shifting.
The brakes certainly live up to the sporty style of the Genesis Coupe as it boasts a short stopping distance.
Through the corners, it feels well balanced with a front end that stays planted at all times. There are new dampers and the steering has been recalibrated too. Response is about the same as with the previous generation, but you do notice some additional feedback and a little more connectivity overall. There's enough torque to push the rear out a bit with timely throttle inputs, and as before, R-Spec models get front strut camber adjustment bolts.
On the street, this regenerated Genesis Coupe offers enough entertainment to make it one of the most fun-to-drive cars in this price range. The reasonably spacious cabin rides on a comparatively long wheelbase, which is conducive to a supple ride.
The rear seats are still too small for adults but the rear boasts relatively large cargo room.
What about the car's sound? This is a sports car and Hyundai has tuned the exhaust so that you get the growl you want but not much drone at highway speeds. With downshifts, you notice a nice "burble" when you match revs.
Overall, regardless of which model of Genesis Coupe you drive, it's a nice place to spend time, both in and out of the city and on or off the highway. The layout is clear and everything is within reach. New for this year, and standard on all trim levels, is a centre stack multi-gauge cluster which houses three analog dials. They give readouts of instantaneous litres-per-100 km, torque level (3.8 models) or boost pressure (2.0T models), and oil temperature.
With the 2013 Genesis Coupe, Hyundai looked at what was available in this market segment, made improvements where necessary, listened to their customers, and delivered a product that should be more than competitive.
With all of the great updates for 2013, the base Genesis Coupe 2.0T starts at $26,499 and the 3.8 GT model begins at $36.999.
Standard equipment includes: ABS with EBD, ESC with TCS, keyless entry with alarm, Bluetooth with steering wheel controls and automatic climate control.
Additional features, available as options or on higher trims, include: pushbutton start, touch-screen navigation system, heated front seats, power driver seat, Brembo brake package and a Torsen limited slip-differential.
Fuel efficiency numbers for the 2.0T manual: 10.0 litres/100 kilometres city, 6.6 l/100 km highway, for 8.5 l/100 km combined.
Ratings for the 3.8 GT: 11.0 l/100 km city, 7.3 l/100 km highway, and 9.6 l/100 km combined.
With the option of a turbocharged four or a naturally-aspirated V-6, customers can choose the powertrain that best suits their personality. The refreshed exterior and interior is a welcome update.
The Genesis Coupe is going against some extremely competitive sports cars from other brands, so being value-oriented isn't necessarily the best strategy because the final result is a bit of a compromise.
The bottom line
The 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a lot of car for the money and brings a good level of sophistication to this class.
Competitors Scion FR-S
The lightweight FR-S starts at $25,990 but is outmatched in power with only 200 h.p. However, it does offer one of the best driving experiences - you need to drive this car to believe its potential.
This American icon's 305 h.p. V-6 actually offers less horsepower than the Genesis Coupe's V-6. However, with a starting price of $22,999, it's not difficult to see why Ford has sold so many Mustangs over the years.
For $23,345, customers can bring home Chevrolet's retro-styled Camaro. For that money you get a 323 h.p. V-6 and all the memories of yesteryear.