When the 2009 Hyundai Genesis sedan took home North American Car of the Year, some doubters thought it a fluke, a lucky shot by a rookie. The 2010 Genesis Coupe shows it wasn't, that Hyundai not only is serious in its upmarket intentions, but also can deliver serious contenders and at impressive prices.
This new coupe is not merely a shortened, two-door, four-passenger version of the larger, four-door, five-passenger sedan. While it shares some of the sedan's underpinnings, in almost every way that matters, and in some that probably don't, it's a unique, sporty coupe that offers remarkable value for dollar.
There's a choice of engines, between a turbocharged, 210-horsepower four-cylinder and a 306-hp V6. Both come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, increasingly a rarity, if offered at all, in the sporty coupe market. The optional automatics are Shiftronic manu matics with steering column-mounted shift paddles. In a hat tip to the car's rear-wheel drive, the rear tires and wheels are wider than the fronts, making for a better managed, more efficient delivery of power to the road.
Inside you'll find leather upholstery on most models, but the fabric seats are more than up to the dual challenges of keeping their occupants comfortable over long distances as well as reassuringly restrained on winding mountain roads. For the multi media generation, iPod and USB audio inputs are standard along with a simple auxiliary jack.
All of this, though, is icing on the cake. This is a very competent, nicely balanced sporty coupe that feels as at home on a closed track as slogging through daily commute traffic. Rear-wheel drive is generally regarded as being better for sporty handling than front-wheel drive, and the Genesis takes advantage of this. We found the ride and handling on the street and on the track to be remarkably good, especially for a car with a starting sticker price of $22,000.