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In the category of “never the twain shall meet,” it would be hard to top this pair: fans of American muscle cars and devotees of Asian sport coupes.

2010 Hyundai Genesis CoupeYou might assume there would be some common ground — a grudging respect, or even furtive cross-shopping — between them. After all, a Ford Mustang and a Mitsubishi Eclipse are both built for fun at lower-than-house-payment prices.

Instead, there are battle lines defined largely by age and outlook: boomers and Detroit loyalists line up behind V-8 muscle like flag-wavers at an Olympic hockey final, while college-age buyers want to download turbo-juicing software to their high-revving tuner cars from across the Pacific.

Don’t expect to find these enthusiasts playing nicely on the same Web forum.

In recent years, Japan’s carmakers have mostly quit the game. The Toyota Celica and Supra are long gone, as is the Honda Prelude, and coupes derived from front-drive mass-market sedans like the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima are more practical than passionate. The Eclipse, once a star, has become as soft-bellied and hard to justify as a 40-year-old designated hitter.

But out of left field, or at least to the left of Japan, a new player has emerged. Even as American car companies crank out a gumball assortment of pony-car revivals — Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger — a warrior from Korea has entered the no-fire zone: the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the kind of rear-drive, road-flogging, date-snaring car that makes young people want to take a second job, or at least plead with the parents.

Starting at $22,750 for the tepid 4-cylinder turbo model, or $25,750 for the more desirable 306-horsepower V-6 version, the Genesis is the only well-priced Asian coupe that won’t shrivel before the American pony-car onslaught. It’s also the only Asian coupe that should matter to people who can’t drum up $37,000 for the Infiniti G37.

As with every Hyundai, including the Genesis luxury sedan on which it is based, the coupe takes its competitive cues from the film “All About Eve.” Sidling up to the G37, the Genesis Coupe is the ingénue, its style and performance seemingly no threat to the big-name star (the Bette Davis character on screen, for readers under 40). But the Hyundai has been slyly absorbing the star’s lessons, including a set of exterior curves that seems clearly inspired by the Infiniti.

Especially in lean times, car buyers have been catching on to Hyundai’s blossoming talents — and wondering why they should spend more for the boldface name that offers no apparent advantage. Yet what works beautifully for Hyundai’s affordable sedans and crossovers hasn’t always translated to other segments.

A weak link has been performance. Fitful attempts at sporty cars, like the Tiburon coupe, betrayed a Korean car culture with precious little experience in manufacturing speed or sex appeal, whether on the street or in motorsports.

That’s what makes the Genesis Coupe a groundbreaker for Hyundai. It’s not as fast as the Infiniti and not at all luxurious, though you’d have no right to expect riches for a price that undercuts the G37 by $11,000. But the Genesis may actually top the Infiniti in pure entertainment value: the Hyundai is younger, louder and more visceral, eager to shake its tail through power slides that the Infiniti would sniff at as immature behavior.

The Genesis is also a surprisingly deft handler, powered by a husky-voiced 3.8-liter V-6. In short, there’s a bona fide rear-drive performance car underneath that handsome body.

Compared with the boldness of the exterior, the cabin is straightforward. But it’s also straitlaced; you might prefer more visual assurance that this is a quick car. The controls are simple and well executed; the front seats are stylish and firmly bolstered (though the leather on one test car was showing wear after 10,000 miles). And plastic trim on the dash and doors has the shiny look and knock-knock feel associated with budget cars.

Because of the sloping roofline, any rear passenger who’s remotely tall will find his head polishing the rear glass. The trunk is more accommodating; despite a slender opening, it can accept weekend luggage or a cartload of groceries. But this isn’t a car for fetching a carton of eggs. Instead, the Hyundai’s errand is to nip at, reel in and otherwise pester drivers of more expensive cars — Infinitis, Nissan Zs, BMWs, you name it. At the underdog game, the Hyundai excels.

Or, I should say, the V-6 version excels. The turbocharged 4-cylinder, an engine shared with the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, is tuned more for smoothness and economy than for big-boost performance. (The E.P.A. rates the 4 at 21 m.p.g. in town and 30 on the highway with a 6-speed manual.) It produces just 210 horsepower, compared with 237 in the Mitsubishi, running out of breath just when you expect the fun to begin. This shortfall could be overcome by dropping Hyundai’s new 274-horse direct injection 4, coming later this year in the Sonata, into the Genesis Coupe.

For now, the 3.8-liter V-6, with 306 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, is the speedster’s choice. On regular-grade gas, it is rated at 17 miles per gallon in town (18 with an automatic transmission) and 26 on the highway. In Motor Trend’s hands, the Genesis V-6 squirted from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in 5.5 seconds, clipping the quarter-mile in 14 seconds at just over 100 m.p.h.

2010 Hyundai Genesis CoupeThat V-6 Track model ($30,250 with the 6-speed manual; $31,750 with a 6-speed manual-shift automatic) adds features including 19-inch alloy wheels and summer tires; Brembo brakes with four-piston front and rear calipers; a stiffer suspension; a Torsen limited-slip differential; aluminum pedals; and a rear spoiler.

The spec-obsessed Camaro or Mustang owner might scoff, but in the right hands, the V-6 Genesis will keep pace with Detroit’s born-again pony cars — even the ones with V-8 engines — on coiling roads. At just under 3,400 pounds, the Hyundai is nearly 250 pounds lighter than the Infiniti and about 350 pounds less than a Camaro V-6.

Compared with the vaguer sensations of the Detroiters, the Hyundai transmits sports-car feedback that lets you fling it into curves aggressively. For a rear-drive car, the Hyundai is still nose-heavy, carrying 55 percent of its weight up front. And the front wheels want to push wide in turns when the tires are near their traction limit.

Yet the Hyundai wants to go faster: once you have the Genesis set in a turn, its cornering attitude can be adjusted with a love tap on the brake or throttle. Switch off the stability control system and the Genesis can also be provoked into controllable drifts that will have drivers howling along with the tires.

The strangest part of the Hyundai is its engine-control computer, which cuts power for a few buzz-killing seconds if you accidentally rev the engine to its limiter. The other knock, aside from a bit of notchiness in the manual shifter, is a heavy clutch: I was testing a Camaro SS at the same time as the Genesis, and the Hyundai’s pedal felt as tiring in urban stop-and-go as the Chevy’s.

But any rough edges in the Genesis test car were smoothed by the price tag — $28,250 for a well-equipped 3.8 Grand Touring model. That V-6 price splits the difference between the V-6 and V-8 Camaros and Mustangs. Ultimately, it’s hard to recall the last all-new Asian nameplate that has crammed this much style and performance into such an affordable package. The fact that Asia’s best budget coupe now comes from South Korea, not Japan, might embarrass engineers and executives at Honda and Toyota.



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This is a fair take on the Gensis Coupe I think. It does take style points from Infinity and that's ok I suppose. The author is spot on with the interior, well designed but cheap materials. In most of the comparo's I've seen and read, the Gen and The G37 are pretty close but we'll give them the edge cuz for $11,000-$15,000 it sure should be the better of the two...lol.

I thought this statement was not only correct but funny too..

Even as American car companies crank out a gumball assortment of pony-car revivals — Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger — a warrior from Korea has entered the no-fire zone: the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the kind of rear-drive, road-flogging, date-snaring car that makes young people want to take a second job, or at least plead with the parents.
Thanks for the post Tufast!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is a fair take on the Gensis Coupe I think. It does take style points from Infinity and that's ok I suppose. The author is spot on with the interior, well designed but cheap materials. In most of the comparo's I've seen and read, the Gen and The G37 are pretty close but we'll give them the edge cuz for $11,000-$15,000 it sure should be the better of the two...lol.

I thought this statement was not only correct but funny too..



Thanks for the post Tufast!
You're welcome & I agree that above quote was rather funny & this review is spot on IMO...



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Pretty honest review. Good read.
 

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