The Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the company’s first proper RWD sports car, is dead. The Truth About Cars has confirmed that the Genesis will be discontinued after the 2016 model year, with no immediate replacement.
The Genesis – not to be confused with Hyundai’s new luxury brand of the same name – has always had a bit of a split personality. On the one hand, there was the four door version, an upmarket luxury sport sedan gunning for the likes of BMW and Mercedes. On the other hand, there was the two door version, a comfortable but less luxurious coupe with more sporting pretensions. Both were rear wheel drive and a far cry from the Excel-based Scoupe. You could choose from a 2.0 turbo four cylinder or 3.8 V6 motor, both available with manual or automatic transmissions. On paper, it should’ve been a highly successful enthusiast’s car. So what went wrong?
For one thing, it was a Hyundai. Today we accept that Korean build quality is almost if not as good as the Japanese brands. But when the Genesis was introduced in 2008 Hyundai wasn’t taken as seriously as they are today. Who would even compare a Hyundai with the V6 Mustang and Camaro? When the FR-S/BRZ came along, the Genesis Coupe was much more powerful, but also much larger. Though it performed well, it wasn’t as pure a sports car experience as the Toyobaru. Both transmissions, as I learned in a post on Oppositelock, are truly awful for a performance car. The automatic is slow and slushy, and the stick is about as crisp and precise as a baseball bat in a barrel of coconuts. Plus, between the coupe and sedan versions, the Genesis had a split personality, which prevented either version from achieving true sport luxury sedan or sport coupe status and capabilities.
In the end, luxury won. Genesis has become Hyundai’s luxury brand, with the sedan-formerly-known-as-Genesis becoming the Genesis G80. The coupe version remained a Hyundai, also named Genesis, and making the whole product lineup rather confusing. I’m not surprised to see the Hyundai Genesis Coupe disappear as a name, but I’m sad to see it disappear as a model. “A new, more sophisticated and luxurious coupe appropriate for the new Genesis brand is currently under development,” according to Hyundai PR Manager Christine Henley. It could even have a V8. Luxury coupes are cool, but what about the unwashed masses who just wanna go fast?
What Hyundai Should Do
Hyundai is bailing on the affordable sport coupe market when a golden opportunity is presenting itself. No more must their coupe split the difference between luxury and performance. The Genesis brand has luxury covered, which frees Hyundai to build an affordable
FR-S 86/BRZ killer without compromises. The existing 2.0 turbo four (274hp) and 3.8 V6 (348hp) are good engines, and can probably match the Camaro and Mustang versions with a few tweaks. That kind of power, plus precise handling like a BRZ, could position the Hyundai as a serious competitor against both types of cars. Why choose power or handling when you can have both in the Hyundai?
They even have a name they can revive for this car – the Tiburon. Though it means “shark” in Spanish, previous front wheel drive versions lacked the bite to be taken seriously as true performance cars. That would change with the RWD coupe I have in mind. Hyundai is a serious contender today, and so would the new Tiburon. It would outperform the BRZ in much the same way as the Ford Focus RS outperforms the STi, hopefully forcing Subaru to innovate and up their game a bit on the next model.
Hyundai doesn’t really have a defining halo car. They have a good variety of models, and that serves them well, but they can’t point to anything like the Corvette, or M3, or NSX, that truly defines what the ultimate in Hyundai performance can be. Don’t laugh – Hyundai knows a thing or two about performance. They’ve competed in the World Rally Championship for many years.
I’d love to see what Hyundai could do if they buckled down and made a dedicated sports car. Considering the success they’re seeing in everything else they attempt lately, my hopes would be high.