Home » Here’s Why The Hyundai Genesis Coupe Is Today’s Fox Body Mustang

Here’s Why The Hyundai Genesis Coupe Is Today’s Fox Body Mustang

2010 Hyundai Genesis New Fox Mustang Ts3
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In 2009, a new affordable rear-wheel-drive performance car was making a buzz, and it didn’t come from the usual suspects. It wasn’t the then-new facelifted S197 Mustang GT, the reborn Camaro, or even the Nissan 370Z. Since the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ didn’t exist yet, it was the Hyundai Genesis Coupe that was the hot, small, affordable coupe of the moment. Fourteen years later, it’s in the same place the iconic Fox Body Mustang was when it was a well-used car — a sedan-based coupe that despite its shortcomings, is willing to indulge in shenanigans.

In the beginning, there was Genesis. Specifically, there was the Hyundai Genesis sedan, a surprisingly cromulent Mercedes-Benz E-Class competitor complete with a waterfall grille and a Lexicon sound system. It’s not the car you’d expect to spawn an affordable sports coupe, but that’s exactly what happened. On March 19, 2008, a fire engine red Genesis Coupe slid onto the stage at the New York International Auto Show, quickly followed by a silver one and pyrotechnics, signaling to the world that Hyundai was here to party.

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The Hyundai Genesis Coupe was unlike anything Hyundai had ever made up to this point. Rear-wheel-drive, choice of a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a 3.8-liter naturally-aspirated V6, a proper manual or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifter, available Brembo brakes, and an available limited-slip differential. It was radical enough to upset the automotive paradigm. As 0-60 Magazine wrote: “The rear-wheel-drive, affordable sports car we all wanted is here. Funny thing is Hyundai built it.”

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

 

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Keep in mind, this was the same company that had only discontinued the Tiburon one year prior to the unveiling of the Genesis Coupe, and that thing was a long-in-the-tooth front-wheel-drive liftback coupe with its roots firmly in the early 2000s. Sure, you could get it with a 2.7-liter V6, but it had nothing on the Genesis Coupe when it came to looks, let alone oversteer.

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Interior

On the face of things, the Genesis Coupe had some stuff going for it. Track and R-Spec trims got adjustable camber bolts and a Torsen limited-slip differential, the available Brembo brakes were fantastic, the optional V6 engine was strong with 306 horsepower on tap, and planting your right foot would happily send this coupe’s tail out. So why did we all forget about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe? Well, first shots are never perfect, and the Genesis Coupe didn’t quite feel finished. While it’s cool that this car exists, Car And Driver tore into the two-liter R-Spec model, writing out a list of faults.

Although the car’s primary controls are well positioned and the steering offers decent feedback, hustling the car beyond a commuting pace reveals the notchy and imprecise nature of the gearbox. The ride is rather poor; the chassis feels willing and stiff overall, but the springs and the shocks never appear to know what each other is doing, making for noticeable body movement and harsh, crashing impacts over most bumps. Then there’s the underpowered 2.0T. We’ve experienced firsthand turbo tuners that sabotage a car’s drivability in the quest for more boost, but until Hyundai decides to offer the 2011 Sonata sedan’s optional 274-hp, direct-injected turbo-four in the Genesis coupe, an outside supplier is the only way to get the extra oomph the coupe’s chassis can handle (stepping up to the V-6 notwithstanding).

The current engine’s 223 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm make for good low-speed drivability and the car is very controllable if you manage to get it a little sideways, but with only 210 hp on tap, the throttle has a limited say in the car’s behavior. What’s more, the 2.0-liter engine—the foundation of which Hyundai developed in an alliance with Mitsubishi and Chrysler—sounds coarse and droning at all speeds, delivering precisely zero invigorating noises of the type that make driving a good performance car special and fun.

Ouch. It didn’t help that in Car And Driver testing, the two-liter turbocharged Genesis Coupe in lightweight R-Spec trim ran from zero-to-60 mph in 6.8 seconds, which meant it could be handily beaten off the mark by a Honda Civic Si, let alone a Chevrolet Cobalt SS. In many ways, the 2010 Genesis Coupe felt like a cut-rate Infiniti G35. It tried to emulate a more expensive, more sorted coupe and didn’t quite make the grade.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2

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Mind you, Hyundai is an automaker that moves fairly quickly. For the 2013 model year, the Genesis Coupe was facelifted, and it gained a raft of upgrades. The four-cylinder engine saw its output rise from 210 horsepower to 274 horsepower, and the V6 gained 42 horsepower for a total output of 348 horsepower. The automatic became an eight-speed unit, suspension tuning got revised, the interior gained some gauges, and new styling made the car more aggressive or a little bit frumpy, depending on how you feel about single-frame grilles and fake vents. While the improvements were significant and appreciable, they weren’t quite enough now that the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ existed. Instead of a sporty coupe based on a sedan, thrill-seekers could have a sports coupe that drove like an actual sports car for cheap. However, that was 14 years ago, and this is now. Because everyone forgot about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, they’re now going for even cheaper than the Scion.

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 1

For instance, here’s a 2010 Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT up for sale on Craigslist in New Jersey for $5,900. Sure, it may have a roof spoiler, 171,402 miles on the clock, and a Crown Royal bag as a shift boot, but it’s $5,900 for a post-recession rear-wheel-drive six-speed manual coupe. If it’s been through as many rear tires as that shift boot seems to indicate, it’ll survive whatever you throw at it.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 1

Maybe you want a facelifted model. No problem, here’s a 2013 V6 six-speed manual car up for sale on Craigslist in Georgia for $6,000. Sure, it may have a conspicuous amount of plasti-dip visible, but again, here’s a reasonably quick rear-wheel-drive, six-speed manual coupe that’s more spacious than a Scion FR-S and still reasonably priced, given the current market.

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2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3

The Hyundai Genesis Coupe isn’t the segment’s best all-around performance car, but the forgotten facelifted model is much better than the original, and overall, given its age and how cheap examples often go for, it’s a great fuck-around car, just like the Fox Body Mustang was when it was nigh-on 15 years old. It will indulge in all of the well-judged degeneracy you could want while still having enough amenities to feel somewhat modern. Every backroad peel-out and rainy empty parking lot skid you desire, it’ll oblige, and it’s easier to find a cheap Genesis Coupe than a similarly-priced not-clapped-out manual Infiniti G35. Sure, the two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines did have a reputation for going boom, but if you can find a V6 or don’t mind the idea that the next owner will be a scrapyard, a Genesis Coupe isn’t a bad way to explore rear-wheel-drive.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3

Plus, the Genesis Coupe is tuneable, with fairly strong aftermarket support. If you don’t like the suspension tuning, buy coilovers you’re fond of. A litany of power mods from flash tunes to turbos can wake up output, and a short shifter can fix the somewhat rubbery linkage. With a few bolt-ons, a Hyundai Genesis Coupe can be a cheap and somewhat sketchy source of fun, just like late Fox Body Mustangs were in the mid-2000s. If you’re just looking to screw around, this used Hyundai is a pretty good option.

(Photo credits: Hyundai, Craigslist Sellers)

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Whatawookiee
Whatawookiee
17 days ago

I bought a 2.0T Track new in 2010. I got complements on its looks all the time. I really wanted to like it, but you alluded to the main problem with the car. It just felt unfinished. It would barely go into first in even mildly cold weather. The ECU was awful and it often pulled timing and fell flat on its face with any part-throttle acceleration. They reflashed it and made it a little better, but it was never even close to acceptable.

The VDC wore the back brakes completely in 12K miles in casual driving. After I replaced them, I just turned off the VDC every time I drove the car with no discernable difference in drivability. I just didn’t have to replace the brakes as much.

I did take it to one autocross, thinking it would come alive there and show its strengths. Alas, while it generated decent times, it felt big and clumsy. The too-stiff ride for daily driving did keep it fairly planted, but it just didn’t feel like its forte.

I got rid of the Genesis after 3 years with only 39K on it. I wasn’t sad to see it go. It was needing its 2nd diff replacement. I gave up on them ever fixing the Bluetooth on it, and some of the upholstery was coming apart. Hyundai’s supposed “best warranty” seemed to have exceptions for everything. I replaced it with a used bugeye WRX that I still have today. It was just a much better car.

I might have kept it, if I got the V6, and it would have been pretty nice with the V8. The 10-12 turbo 4 just didn’t have anywhere near enough character to offset the rest of the car’s shortcomings.

Max Finkel
Max Finkel
19 days ago

where are they??? I’ve been thinking about whether one of these would be fun for a few months now and I can’t find any unmolested ones for sale worth buying

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