Reviews

2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Walk Around

The 2011 Genesis Coupe has a quirky mix of styling themes. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. On the upside, it's distinctive. On the downside, it's distinctive. One thing about which there is no confusion is that the Genesis Coupe is not merely a sporty, two-door knockdown of Hyundai's award-winning Genesis sedan. The only visual feature the Coupe shares with the sedan is the company's stylized H logo.

The front end is an intriguing collage of swoops and scoops. Two sharp hood creases squeeze past the upper grille to pinch down on top of a lower grille flanked by horizontal polished ribs on flat black insets pushing the fog lights to the extremes of the lower fascia, which itself wraps around the front tire wells to emphasize the broad stance. Projector-beam headlights peer out of compound housings slashed into the fenders. The busy front end is not going to look any better with a license plate bolted to it, a realization that might have buyers living in states requiring two plates sorely tempted to scoff at that particular law.

Side view shows what at a quick first glance could be the Infiniti coupe. There's a nice balance between hood and boot, which are split by a perfectly proportioned glasshouse. Right-sized tires on airy alloy wheels fill round wheel wells. Topping it off is something called a Z character line that broadcasts sportiness to passersby. The curves of the body catch the light and shadow and a Z-shaped reflection breaks up what would otherwise be a large expanse of sheet metal along the sides of the car.

To the extent there's any Hyundai legacy in the Genesis Coupe it's found in the hindmost view. Were it not for the car's mass, followers might think they were tailgating a Tiburon, the smaller, lower priced, less-sophisticated sporty coupe (phased out during the 2008 model year). There's the same lower valance with almost identical wide spaced exhaust tips, a similar oval ness to the taillight rear bumper fascia trunk lid grouping and the same tucked-in tapering of the rear quarter panels behind the rear tires. This isn't to say the look is other than pleasant, but the clear visual linkage to that older, lesser coupe is strong enough that it could dim the new coupe's up-market prospects, at least to those following behind.

Interior

2011 Genesis Coupes come with new soft-touch, matte-finish surfaces on the door panels, center speaker grille, glove box, and lower instrument panel; plus dark metal-colored accents on center stack, door handles, air vent bezels and steering wheel hub. Armrests are now padded, a softer leather covers the steering wheel, and even the inner A-pillars are now dressed in cloth. Coat hooks have been added in the rear-seat area, and flashes of chrome complete the facelift. Where function and feel matter, the Genesis Coupe measures up.

The front seats are comfortable but sufficiently assertive to hold the backside in place during spirited motoring, especially in the 2.0T with its basic black cloth. The 3.8's leather is a nice touch of semi-luxury. The back seats are only for small children and, in some states, lower insurance premiums.

The steering wheel feels good, with just the right rim thickness and cross section. The shift knob, steering wheel and driver's seat hip-point triangulate well for 90-percentile males. The column-mounted shift paddles for the Shiftronic automatics are at the fingertips of hands at the 10-and-2 o'clock positions and are within reach from 9-and-3. The up/down slot on the console mounted shift gate opens toward the driver, where it's a natural tug at the lever. The foot pedals are where the driver's feet expect; heel and toe with the 6 speed manuals could be easier but doesn't demand a stretch or awkward ankle twist. Unlike the buttons for the power windows, which are placed on the door armrest at an odd angle and using them is awkward.

The primary gauges are analog, with coolant temperature and fuel gauges embedded in the base of the speedometer and tachometer, respectively. Basic, bright red needles communicate their information quickly and surely. Knobs, buttons and rocker switches for the audio and climate management controls are large and logically located, with audio controls up top for ready access requiring minimal shift of the driver's line of sight away from the road ahead, to which a low dash gives bay window-like visibility. Quite the contrary is true for lane checks; despite a recessed lower sill that expands the glass area, the rear quarter windows offer limited visibility, in large part due to the large C-pillar.

Front-seat roominess is very good by coupe standards. Front-seat headroom in the Genesis Coupe tops that in the RX-8 and 3 Series coupe by about one inch, while legroom bests those two by at least an and inch and a half. Hip room in the Genesis Coupe's front seats is wider by almost three inches than in the RX-8's seats. (BMW, like most German carmakers, does not publish figures on hip room.)

If rear seats must be added to the chart, the Coupe does not fare well, trailing in head room by two inches, in leg room by two to three inches or more, but eking out a win by one inch over the RX-8 in hip room. But what do you care? You won't be sitting back there.

With 10 cubic feet of cargo space, the Genesis Coupe holds more than the Mazda RX-8 (7.6 cu. ft.), a little less than the BMW 3 Series coupe (11 cu. ft.). The rear seat of the Genesis Coupe folds down to increase cargo capacity, but the opening is small.

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