Test Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T 6-Speed Manual

By Kevin Harrison

Korea is an interesting place. On the one hand you have the North, which from all indications, tends to be like the fillet-o-fish at McDonalds. No one ever buys it, you don’t know what’s in it, and as a result you are sketched out by it. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Il is like Grimace. No one knows anything about him either, and he was originally created to be evil. He even used to carry the name “Evil Grimace”. The creativeness obviously knows no bounds in the marketing department at McDonalds. Anyway, when was the last time you actually saw Grimace? Exactly. Like Kim Jong-Il, no one really knows where Grimace is or what he’s up to. This creates the same creepiness that you feel on the odd occasion that Kim Jong-Il actually shows his face to the world.

Then there’s the South which I’ve learned, thanks to a good friend moving there, has lots of ridiculously cheap alcohol, incredibly spicy food (also cheap), amazing architecture and apparently a talent for speed skating. Therefore, South Korea is kind of like a McFlurry. It’s pretty good, comes in a variety of agreeable flavours and is cheap.

Then there’s Korea’s place in the car world. As little as ten years ago, Hyundai was pretty much like North Korea. You never considered one when buying, you didn’t know anything about it and the mere thought of owning one gave you the creeps. You knew it was going to be trouble. So, you stayed away.

But then something happened at Hyundai. They started to realize that being like North Korea is about as appealing as going on a date with Miley Cyrus, so they quickly tried to change their image and product. The revolution began, and suddenly Hyundai became more like South Korea. Their products started to rival the heavyweights from Toyota and Honda and now their image is also taking a positive turn.

Case in point, the Genesis Coupe.

Hyundai’s new slogan is ‘Smart is in’. Not that smart was ever ‘out’, but with the new Genesis Coupe, they took this slogan to heart. If you want a cheap rear drive coupe, your options are pretty limited. The Ford Mustang is pretty much the only choice you get. Hyundai saw the opportunity to take advantage of a segment with virtually no competition – they’ll be the ones that set the standard.

Under the hood is a 2 litre  4-cylinder turbo that produces 210 horsepower and 223 pound foot of torque at 2000 RPM’s. That’s good enough for a sprint to 100 in 6.8 seconds. During my time with the Genesis Coupe, I found the acceleration to be a bit inconsistent. When I first picked it up, it didn’t really feel all that fast to me, certainly not matching the numbers on paper. But by the time I returned it, it did indeed live seem to live up to those acceleration numbers. The 3.8 GT almost certainly has this inconsistency omitted as it produces a much healthier 306 horsepower.

dsc03813The six-speed manual is definitely outdone by Honda and Volkswagen’s manual gearboxes. I found the throws to be clunky and difficult. This hindered spirited driving at times, though I did eventually get used to it. The Hyundai’s shift knob is the only one I’ve ever experienced that makes an echo noise off the palm of your hand every time you shift. This became as annoying as Jay Leno’s chin, but I quickly remedied the situation by simply putting on a glove. This, however, is only a solution during winter months. On top of that, the labeling of the gears on the knob is difficult to read at certain angles or when the sun hits it. I’m nitpicking at this point, if I’m honest, because at no point will you ever need to look down to know where to shift for the reverse gear once you’ve done it once.

Handling is damned impressive, there’s no other way of putting it.dsc03808 Throw it into a corner as fast and as hard as you like, it’s really hard to catch the Genesis Coupe off guard. I can only imagine how much better it would be with the GT package which adds bigger wheels, performance tires and brakes – the base 2.0T already feels like it’s at its peak handling abilities. The suspension is just the right amount of firm as bumps in the road aren’t too noticeable. The steering is also quite superb with excellent feedback to the driver, so you know exactly what the Genesis Coupe is doing when you get a jolt of testosterone and start driving aggressively.

I found the clutch took some getting used to. In addition, when shifting between gears, it seemed my foot wasn’t quite off the gas all the way when it felt like it was. This induced some unintentional engine revving between shifts and also caused a bit of wheel spin once the next selected gear became engaged.

The sport seats are excellent. The side bolsters add just the right amount of support. The backseats offer, well, a good space to put your briefcase. Don’t expect anyone of any height to sit comfortably back there. The sloping roof line definitely causes headroom problems and rear leg room is only suitable for people with no legs. This is semi-excusable as the rear seats in coupes are about as relevant as plot in a porn film. No intelligent person buys a coupe for practicality anyway.

dsc03812The interior is adequate with dials and buttons all in the right places and within easy reach. Quality of materials is better than expected, but again, being a Hyundai, that’s kind of like saying The Fast & The Furious was better than expected. It’s still not that great. The interior light blue lighting is cool, but overall the interior lacks the look that the exterior conveys. The stereo is good, but when it’s turned off “GENESIS COUPE” in bold is what fills the display screen. And it doesn’t go away. If you have the memory of a goldfish, then this would be a nice feature, but chances are you can remember what you bought and what you are driving at any given moment, so this just comes off as being a bit tacky.

This is the best looking car Hyundai as ever produced. I can’t find much wrong with the overall design, it is quite the head turner. The front end is low, wide and aggressive. This is personally my favourite angle of the Genesis Coupe. The side profile is quite sleek and attractive and the rear exudes and elegant and sport completion to the look.


The new Genesis Coupe is probably the best example of how things are changing at Hyundai. They’ve come an incredibly long way from where they were ten years ago. Matched with a 5-year 100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, incredible improvements in reliability (Hyundai is ranked 3rd in an initial quality survey), great looks all at the prices Hyundai is known for, the brand, and the Genesis Coupe specifically, are going to be the ones to really watch for in the coming years. If they keep at it, we’ll have to upgrade our McDonalds metaphors to Subway metaphors.


Base Price: $24,495

Price As Tested: $26,590


  • Excellent value
  • Head turning looks
  • European-like handling
  • Great sounding engine


  • Very small trunk opening
  • Fussy/strange manual gearbox
  • So-so interior

Overall: 8/10

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