I’ve been torn about my Genesis since it flew off the lot. Back then, I thought it was the best compromise between the two heavy-hitters: a Mustang and a BRZ. Now, I can change its emotion with a coin flip, but I make the odds.
You see, the Subaru BRZ has the agility of a small feline without scaring half the neighborhood children with your endless toiling under insomniac-green halogen garage lighting aiming for the perfect rack and suspension setup. The BRZ also has a near-perfect driving position for the enthusiast, a sharp, responsive throttle pedal, communicative chassis, and immediate steering... immediate.
I was thoroughly impressed, save for the flat-four.
Now I’ll let the Jalopnik writers whine on about how 200 bhp is enough in this day-and-age of the misappropriated horsepower wars, but it’s not; not for that price, and not when you have an itch.
So what else is there that can live up to these adequate power standards? Oh look, America (AMERICA!) makes three muscle cars. The Mustang has the biggest modern reputation on track, so let’s try that.
Let me disclaim what you’re about to hear with the fact that I had just driven an NC Miata before testing my first Mustang and that the ‘Stang in question was a 2012 California Special something-or-other that was setup completely opposite of ticking the ‘track pack’ box.
Either way, I grappled over the cloth seats and gleamed over the uninspired plastic landscape shielding me from the 300-odd bhp V6, but none of that upset me.
I slotted the 6-speed manual transmission into 1st gear and set off. Yes! This thing had plenty of power and I sure noticed it after trying to rev the nuts of off a Miata to get it to move, but the more I drove around the suburban 4-lane boulevards the more disappointed I became. The throttle pedal was lazier than you’re drunk uncle in a leather recliner after dipping wholly too much into the Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. And so was the chassis; it lumbered around trying to nurse the longevity out of the live rear axle. The throttle pedal was anything but linear, think more exponential (ala y=x2), like it was keeping your inexperienced American tuckus from wrapping the pony’s tail around a light pole without full consent.
It all make the extra power not worth a thing. No, this wasn’t for me either.
Fast forward to the present, almost a year later, and I am very pleased with my 348 bhp, 295 lb-ft 3.8 liter Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec, and have kept about the same enthusiasm about the car since my initial review upon ownership.
Which brings us to the main gripe I had about the Genesis: It slips too easily into a boring car.
Most of the 25,000 miles my Genesis Coupe has amassed over the 10 months of ownership have been from commuting. My job takes me pretty much anywhere over the greater Chicago area, so I have to deal with flat, straight, uninspiring concrete landscapes daily.
On an initial automotive review, the comfort and ease seen in wafting through these congested commuting roads might be noted as a positive, but when you live on the bustling highways everyday your car has a habit of transforming into an average economy-class sedan.
Where I live, there are no great driving roads. There might be a specific corner you dream about taking on your way home, but inevitably when you get there it is clogged to the brim with traffic, disallowing your fancy summer tires from squealing like a pig and your rear-end having the courage to sneak round your front.
Compile all of that with the miserable winter I had, many tire and wheel issues, and a warped rotor I didn’t have the time to fix for months, and you might imagine I’d have some second thoughts about Genesis ownership, but you’d be wrong, so completely wrong.
Find that 2nd-gear corner, nail the throttle, kick that tail out with the perfect opposite lock and throttle input to counter, hook your front end around the orange cone in the parking lot, take that 1-2 sweeping complex like your life depended on it with all the traction control systems farther off than George W. Bush trying to tell a Chris Rock joke, and all the miles stuck behind tortilla-branded semi trailers hogging each lane of the Interstate will be worth it, in an instant.
Suddenly the car feels like a different animal, even after you slow down to avoid causing a stir. Adrenaline is shot into your blood stream and you can feel everything through the chassis clearly.
There are no magnetic damping or steering wheel reaction settings to fiddle around with, so what changed? Nothing but your newfound respect for the limits and the fact that what’s engineered beneath you is truly a great car through and through.
But tomorrow when I wake up and head into work, I will be bored to death sitting behind a traffic queue waiting to merge onto the interstate. I’ll sink back into the podcast I’ve picked out and slot it into 6th for the long haul.
That is until the weekend when I can pop in a copy of Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and make the long trek to my secret driving road a state away. I’ll find heaven and fall in love with my car again.