Why do we like rear-wheel-drive cars? Driving enthusiasts might say it's because of their inherent balance. The front wheels of front-drive cars are taxed with added responsibility to both accelerate and steer the vehicle, while all-wheel-drive can add weight and mechanical complexity. On a philosophical level, there's just something more pure and true to form in a rear-drive vehicle.
But unfortunately, numerous factors favour the more common front-wheel-drive cars so the rear-wheel-drive cars are rarer than ever.
Luckily for us, several manufacturers have recently prevailed against the odds to provide us with some genuine rear-drive sports cars, with starting prices around the $25,000 mark. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe is one of those cars. The updated 2013 model flaunts a fresh new look, a ton more power, and it still has a very attractive price tag.
While the Genesis Coupe has done plenty to increase the performance image of the Hyundai brand, it's positioned in the middle of the sports coupe segment. It doesn't offer the retro styling and tradition of "pony" cars like the Camaro or Mustang, nor does it possess the lightweight fun factor from new arrivals such as the Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ. So what does the Hyundai Genesis Coupe offer that other cars don't? In one word, value.
For 2013, the 3.8-litre V6 has been updated with direct injection, providing 42 more horsepower, for a total of 348-hp, and 29 more foot-pounds of torque, to 295 ft-lbs. The 2.0-litre four cylinder receives a new twin-scroll turbocharger and a larger, more thermally efficient intercooler. The result of this colder and denser air is a 30-per-cent increase in horsepower and a 23-per-cent increase in torque for a total of 274-hp and 275 ft-lbs of torque.
Off the line, you can easily feel the additional torque but there's still plenty of grip for a good launch. The new V6 will comfortably propel the Genesis Coupe from zero to 100km/h in the lower five second range on its way to an impressive 240km/h electronically limited top speed. The standard six-speed transmission had to be tweaked to provide more feel and, indeed, it is very precise. A new eight-speed automatic is available to those who prefer to just enjoy the car without worrying about shifting.
The brakes certainly live up to the sporty style of the Genesis Coupe, as it boasts a short stopping distance. Through the corners, it feels well balanced with a front end that stays planted at all times. There are new dampers and the steering has been recalibrated too. Response is about the same as with the previous generation, but you do notice some additional feedback and a little more connectivity overall. There's enough torque to push the rear out a bit with timely throttle inputs, and as before, R-Spec models get front strut camber adjustment bolts.
On the street, this regenerated Genesis Coupe offers enough entertainment to make it one of the most fun-to-drive cars in this price range. The reasonably spacious cabin rides on a comparatively long wheelbase, which is conducive to a supple ride. The rear seats are still too small for adults but the rear boasts a relatively large cargo room.
What about the car's sound? This is a sports car, and Hyundai has tuned the exhaust so that you get the growl you want but not much drone at highway speeds. With downshifts, you notice a nice "burble" when you match revs.
Overall, regardless of which model of Genesis Coupe you drive, it's a nice place to spend time in and out of, on the city or highway. The layout is clear and everything is within reach.
New for this year, and standard on all trim levels, is a centre stack multi-gauge cluster that houses three analog dials. They give readouts of instantaneous litres-per-100km, torque level (3.8 models) or boost pressure (2.0T models) and oil temperature.
With the 2013 Genesis Coupe, Hyundai looked at what was available in this market segment, made improvements where necessary, listened to their customers, and delivered a product that should be more than competitive.
With all of the great updates for 2013, the base Genesis Coupe 2.0T starts at $26,499 and the 3.8 GT model begins at $36,999.
Standard equipment includes ABS with EBD, ESC with TCS, keyless entry with alarm, Bluetooth with steering wheel controls and automatic climate control.
Additional features, available as options or on higher trims, include push-button start, touch-screen navigation system, heated front seats, power driver seat, Brembo brake package and a Torsen limited slip-differential.
Fuel efficiency numbers for the 2.0T manual are 10.0L/100km city, 6.6L/100km highway, for 8.5L/100km combined. Ratings for the 3.8 GT are 11.0L/100km city, 7.3L/100km highway, and 9.6L/100km combined.