There it was. We could scarcely believe how pretty our newly acquired Genesis Coupe looked while crouched alongside our trusty old Jetta. Say what you will about the styling details of the car, the proportions are difficult to fault. The wheels are pushed out to all four corners, giving the car a tiny front overhang and only a little more in the rear. Certainly, compared to a Mustang, that rear overhang looks quite small.
We think in stock configuration the the ‘Stang has a slightly tippy, van-like stance in person.
This could be fixed of course, and people do stance Mustangs beautifully through the use of cost-effective mods. We just think it’s nice not to mess with that aspect of the car and get on to more interesting stuff from the get go.
Which, we would find, was vastly different from what most other GenCoupe tuners thought was interesting.
Everyone seems to go straight for the wheels, cramming 19 or 20 inch “rimz” under the car ASAP after purchase. While we are dubious on the large diameters, we will admit that the car looks great with rear tires that are 275mm in section or more.
On the other hand, we really emphasize driving feel over all other considerations for modification. This means we must be realistic, and the fact is that different cars need different adjustments.
Our Jetta responded amazingly well when we ditched its super-heavy 16 inch OEM alloys and went to a set of feather-light 17 inch BBS wheels. Dropping nearly fifteen pounds of unsprung weight per corner off a three thousand pound car is always going to yield great results. This is doubly true on a tinny FWD car with mediocre steering geometry. Extra unsprung weight punishes the car’s engineering shortcomings and taking that weight away does the handling a great service.
From the factory, our Genesis Coupe is a rather different animal than our old Vee Dub. The car has modest eighteen inch alloys as standard, and while it is afflicted by numerous handling vices, they are nowhere near as bad as a 2001 Volkswagen Jetta. The Hoondy has a lot more power as well. This means a change in unsprung weight, while still very beneficial, doesn’t carry the same massive performance premium that it did on our VW.
So we weren’t worried about wheels.
Tires, on the other hand, were a pressing issue.
Our Genesis Coupe had sat on a dealer’s lot for nearly 12 months and the tires showed it. Dry-rotted to hell, they would never perform adequately during the looming winter season.
We ran separate summer and winter tires on our Jetta and intended to do the same with Project Hoondy. The Jetta had nice summer tires, but the winter set was just a mis-matched pile of crappy all-seasons. We were determined to do better with our new car and so went straight for a set of super-legit winter tires.
We looked at a few options. Blizzak is the big name in winter tires for sportscars, but in 2013 Michelin had cooked up an intriguing new hunk of rubber we wanted to try.
The Michelin Xi3 has been hailed as one of the least obnoxious winter tires that money can buy. Winter tires are great for finding grip in snowy, low-temperature conditions, but they tend to spoil the handling characteristics of sportscars. The Xi3s are an exception to this rule, delivering shockingly civilized performance on dry roads. Tire roar is low, ride comfort is excellent, and the tread doesn’t feel too squirmy under power. The damn things even come with a 40,000 mile treadwear warranty; something that would have been totally unheard-of on a winter tire just a few years earlier.
After the thaw at the start of 2014, summer tire selection was a no-brainer. The Continental Extreme Contact DW is a work-horse of a sportscar tire. It is phenomenal in the wet and wears like iron for how sticky it is. It lacks ultimate dry-pavement grip when compared to other high-performance summer tires, but it has fantastic breakaway characteristics.
A set of four such Continentals in size 225 45R17 served us extremely well on our Jetta. Paired with the lightweight BBS wheels they transformed that little car into something that managed to feel at least slightly sophisticated. We bought a set in factory 18 inch sizing and called rubber done for the next four to five years or so. We picked up a second set of 18 inch OEM wheels for a mere $400 on Craiglsist so we wouldn’t have to swap rubber back and fourth on one set.
Other than tires, we made virtually no changes to the car during our first six months of ownership. We researched what other owners were doing and replaced some fluids. In fact, the fluids were our first real “modification” of the car in that we deviated significantly from factory specs.
First up to bat was engine oil.
Nano-particle technology is the future of lubrication. It’s easy to imagine how it could help automotive engines. Think of tiny ball-bearings, so small they pass right through the oil filter, rolling between every sliding surface of the motor. Billions of little particles fill every crevice of the oil galleys, reducing the amount of metal-on-metal contact between components.
We think that, as it becomes more cost-effective, nano-particle tech will eventually substitute for a large portion of traditional anti-wear additives like Zinc and maybe one day replace them altogether.
In the mean time, legit nano-particle lubricants are extremely expensive. Only a few companies use them and they are marketed almost entirely to the racing industry. The thing about the racing industry is that they don’t buy products that don’t work. If it doesn’t help reduce lap times or improve reliability then it doesn’t get purchased, period.
So, back in our Jetta days, we gave it a whirl. If we were going to try engine oil additives then we might as well start at the top. RS-R’s RAN-UP is about as expensive as additives get. It leverages a nano-lubricant that was originally developed for aerospace purposes. It has been proven to legitimately free up extra power and torque in a variety of engines, but we honestly don’t care too much about that. We’ve come to love RAN-UP because of how incredibly smooth it makes our engines run.
Upon first using RAN-UP, we constantly pulled up to intersections and assumed our Jetta had stalled because we couldn’t hear the engine idling. Stabbing the throttle in neutral, hearing the engine rev, and then listening to it settle down into infinite softness is a weird and wonderful experience.
We found that RAN-UP reduced stall speed and it made the VR6 in our Jetta harder to stall in general. The engine would recover from ludicrously low RPMs, as low as 300 in some cases. It idled slower too, a tick under 500 RPM rather than 600 like it had always done before.
Beyond these objective changes, we could go on for ages about what we perceived as subjective improvements to our engine’s dynamics via RAN-UP. Faster rev-up in neutral, better transient response, more power up top, more grunt down low, and an overall more pleasant nature were among the highlights of what we felt. None of these apparent changes were put to objective testing, and so we consider them purely preferential improvements on our part.
Our objective driving impressions combined with our subjective preference for the engine’s behavior made the purchase of RAN-UP worth it to us. This was helped as we started to lengthen our oil change interval with tests from Blackstone to ensure we didn’t push too far. We made it all the way to 10,000 miles with plenty of headroom left in our oil’s additive package. We saw absolutely no elevated levels of copper, aluminum, or other elements that would evidence engine wear. The data suggested that our Jetta might go as far as 15,000 miles before the oil truly started to wear out.
Ten thousand miles was good enough for us though, and we took solace in the fact that we were leaving ourselves so much head-room. This meant the odd auto-cross event or trip to the drag-strip wouldn’t necessitate a reduction in our oil change interval.
So when it came time to choose an oil mix for Project Hoondy we reached straight for the winners of our many oil trials with the Jetta.
Penzoil Platinum (and later Penzoil Ultra) combined with Lucas Synthetic Oil Stabilizer beats the pants off of Royal Purple, Redline, and Lucas’s own high-performance full-syn motor oil. The Penzoil/Lucas blend is cheaper to boot.
As a side-note about Lucas Synthetic Oil Stabilizer, we just want to say that we are not big fans of Lucas products in general. Their Heavy Duty Stabilizer is a terrifying gear-oil type syrup, only suitable for the most miserable of dying engines. Their other “fix” products like Transmission Stop Slip are just nasty, gluey, super-high-viscosity gunk that temporarily softens major mechanical problems at the cost of a reduced fluid change interval and your dignity.
We consider Lucas’s Synthetic Oil Stabilizer to be the one bright spot in their product lineup and proof that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.
Which leaves us with our final choice for Project Hoondy’s Oil Mix:
Five quarts Penzoil Ultra 5W-30, 300 milliliters RSR RAN-UP, and one quart Lucas Synthetic Oil Stabilizer to use as top-up fluid. We change it out every 10,000 miles along with a fresh Wix oil filter. Our Hoondy has an oil sump capacity of six quarts, so this combination of product results in the perfect volume for us.
Even when buying the Penzoil at Wal-Mart and the Lucas in bulk on Amazon, our oil fill costs a whopping $90. Throw in the filter and that’s a hundred bucks for an oil change we still have to do ourselves. This is largely the fault of the RAN-UP, which runs $50 for 300 mL at its absolute cheapest. We win some of that money back through improved fuel economy and an extended oil drain interval, but that’s still a pricey fluid service no matter how you slice it. It would be difficult to justify through purely objective argument, but the subjective improvements to the driving experience are more than worth it to us.
Project Hoondy’s very first oil change was a lot of fun. We hadn’t properly flogged the car yet on our first day of ownership. We wanted to feed her the good stuff first. In went the lovely oil products and out came the smoothest, most melodious V6 grumble we’d ever had the pleasure to experience. We worked on a beautiful paint detailing job while we waited for the sun to go down. A slow, liberal claying removed tons of hidden gunk and then a heavy buff with Klasse sealed it up all nice and tight. This stuff is the greatest:
Once it had reached the witching hour we rolled out into the night, accompanied by the increasingly lusty, heathenish noises of that perfectly lubricated engine. We cannot disclose where we went or what happened on that drive, but it was good. Really good.
Project Hoondy’s inaugural flogging did a lot to confirm what we liked about the car. The driving position especially was just ideal for us and was a huge part of what made us choose our Hyundai over the many alternatives we looked at. Wheels and tires and brakes may be changed, but driving position is forever.
Nobody out there is offering pedal relocation kits, or bolt-on steering column adjusters. We feel like this aspect of performance cars is sorely under-emphasized by contemporary car reviewers. It’s one of the many reasons we love Chris Harris’s reviews as he’s a real stickler for seating position.
You can get the seat in a Genesis Coupe adjusted very low in the car, with plenty of rake if you like that sort of thing (we do). A low seat and high transmission tunnel puts the shifter quite close to the wheel.
The steering column has tons of adjustment and the pedals are evenly spaced, with a BMW-style bottom-hinged throttle pedal.
As much as we were basking in the positives of our purchase, driving the car properly hard had revealed many flaws we didn’t perceive during our test drives.
The front bump-travel was just pathetically short. This one problem spoiled our fun out on the road more than all the other problems put together. It makes the car genuinely nervous and unpredictable over bumpy pavement. As a driver, it makes you gun-shy about iffy road conditions. There are many fantastic sections of road out there that have a few bumps in them, and feeling apprehensive about those bumps can really take the fun out of driving.
Other issues we noticed included the power steering, Dual Mass Flywheel, and drivetrain mounting.
The power steering was mostly a preferential thing. We thought it felt over-boosted and not terribly eager to return to center. It had middle-of-the-road feel: better than a Camry, worse than a Boxster. Honestly, we preferred the steering feel of our old Jetta over the Hoondy but, eh, we’d get used to it.
The Dual Mass Flywheel was far more annoying. All DMFs are irritating by nature, but the one in our Hoondy really pissed us off in particular. We could feel it’s wobbling, oscillating mass slowing down that wonderfully zippy V6. The snappy manual gear-change begged for quick down-shifts and that damn flywheel wouldn’t let the engine blip quickly enough to accommodate. The DMF had to go.
We were shocked at how much the engine and transmission moved around during hard driving. The engine would twist way over under WOT and then snap back to center when we lifted off the gas to shift. This movement was so violent that it would actually lock us out of the first-to-second upshift on fast launches. Unacceptable. Stiffer drivetrain mounts would be a high priority.
Thus we had established a road-map for tuning Project Hoondy. We wanted to begin with those pesky mounts, but an unexpected wet patch in our driveway would put the kibosh on that plan. Our beloved car was leaking an alarming fluid from an alarming location!