Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Got Seoul?

Hello internet,
This is Asian Phil again and I would like to talk about my new car, also attempt to give a brief consumer review.

I grew up with rear wheel drive vehicles; I previously owned three Nissan 240sx, from mildly bolt-ons to full blown KA-T SCCA Street Mod race car. My last RWD vehicle was a G35 coupe. When I started racing religiously in SCCA 3 years ago, all I've ever driven were S2000, Miata, Porsche Carrera, M3 etc, I really don't know what to do or even have a small desire of owning/driving a front wheel drive car. Until recently, I almost make a mistake and ALMOST bought a MazdaSpeed3.

The car that I just sold was a 2003 Infiniti G35 coupe track edition. 280hp stock on tap, viscous LSD, double wishbone suspension all around, Brembo brakes, and luxury items like power/leather/heated seat, premium sound etc. Never intended to be a serious track car but good enough for a decent driver to kickass and take names at the track, and become popular on internet by doing a decent drift at the back of a shopping center.
Unfortunately the G35 got old and it's time to move on. During car shopping I looked at used BMW E46 M3, BMW 335i, late model STi, Evo, even CTS-V and 03/04 SVT Cobra. But trying to be a responsible adult, I knew I shouldn't spend close to 30k on a used performance vehicle and knowing it probably has been beat to hell. So I kept looking and end up between MazdaSpeed3 and Hyundai Genesis Coupe. 2 seaters like C5 Z06/370z/350z/S2000 are ruled out because I have to haul people in my carpool to work.
Long story short, the MazdaSpeed3 is a great car, extremely practical but I just don't see myself in a "Wrong-wheel drive" car, so after couple more days of research. I found the 2011 Hyundai Genesis coupe 3.8 R-spec.

The R-spec is pretty much a stripped down version of their track model; it has the same performance suspension, torsen LSD, and manual transmission. What's missing are the sunroof, cruise control, leather seat, premium sound, that fancy rear spoiler, navigation etc. to save weight and cut cost($4000 below track edition). The 2.0T version makes 210hp stock powered by the same 4B11 engine came from Mitsubishi Evo X. The 3.8L V6 makes 306hp and the engine was derived from their previous FWD V6 platform.

I drove the 2.0 turbo version and it was slow as sh*t. I know there are tons of aftermarket support for this engine but I much rather have more driveable torque and good 300+hp out of the box from the showroom.

Driving impression: I felt a bit disappointing at first, it was a let down just like the iPad. It does everything I expected and asked for, but it lacks refinement and character.
Engine wise the extra engine size in the R-spec definitely pulls a lot stronger compare to the VQ35 from the Nissan. The G35 felt fast because it has a fat mid range torque. This Hyundai Lamda V6 felt similar to the latest Nissan 370z powerplant, very linear power delivery and rev up extremely fast.
Chassis is top notch, my G35 coupe weighed 3401lb with 3/4 tank of fuel on Roebling Road Raceway scale. The Genesis felt lighter and more nimble. It felt more like a 350z platform.
This Korean car supposedly has the same length as the G35 coupe, 1.5 inches wider, and 1 inch shorter in wheelbase compare to the Japanese platform; but the chassis felt as stiff as the late model 370z track pkg, which has the stiffest chassis I've even driven without a roll-cage.
Multiple times I tri-pod going up a steep driveway. Windows and door never made a single noise from the twisting motion like those cars equipped with sunroof.

Suspension & brakes: Unlike the 350z /370z/G35, this Hyundai actually don't have double wishbone front suspension. The front is equipped with Macpherson strut just like the Nissan 240sx; a simple lower control arm, and a Tension-compression rod to control the caster. It's simple and it doesn't give camber gain from compression like the double wishbone; but this car's good roll center and other front geometry made up the flaw. With a quick steering rack, this car delivered steering accuracy and feedback like a modded 240sx or S2000. It has one of the best steering response I've experienced. This R-spec is also equipped with HUGE Brembo 4-pot monoblock caliper clamping down 4 corners.

The Brembo on the G35 coupe was great, but this is the new standard of high performance braking. I'm running the OEM street pad at this moment and it sheds speed just as quick as when I was running Carbotech XP12 race pad on the G35. The R-spec is rolling on 225/245 width stagger size Bridgestone RE050 tires. It is one of the most quiet all summer performance tires I've driven. Grip and response is not quite impressive as Dunlop Z1 star spec or B-stone RE11, but this OEM tires are very quiet :)
Interior, Ergonomics, and others: I really like the color scheme and their mix match of synthetic and real leather. The middle console and button is a copy cat of G35 sedan. The windows are frameless like many modern sport coupe, but I like how the glass tuck into the window gasket lip instead of press against it, which reduce wind noise tremendously. The brake and gas pedal layout is perfect, which make heel and toe downshift easy as second nature.

One thing I hate about this car is its shifter. It is light and the gate is accurate; but the engagement lacks some positive resistance, and the feedback is clunky. Hopefully synthetic fluid and aftermarket bushing can cure this problem. AND, the most annoying thing about this R-spec is their torque management drivetrain protection. Everytime when I shift hard near the rev limiter, it cuts power for a split second to eliminate the driveline shock. I guess the 10yr/100k miles warranty doesn't come that easy. I'm sure a tune will eliminate it.
Other thoughts: This car comes with 4 catalytic converters. First 2 are integrated with the exhaust manifold. Lots of potential can be unlock there. The exhaust layout is extremely similar to the G35/350z platform as well, so does the exhaust note.

This Korean automaker really made a big step this time. This is not the typical POS car you remember about the this brand name. They have proved their ability and they are serious competitor in their class. 3,389lbs, 306hp, rear-drive, LSD, and sport tuned suspension for $27,900 out of the door? That's a lot of car for the money. Although this is supposed to be a stripped down performance orientated model, it still comes with XM radio and bluetooth, not too shabby.

I see this is the beginning of Hyundai stepping into the competitive performance sport coupe market, their iconic name Genesis definitely defines their first chapter of high performance sport car. I was wrong at first thinking this car has no soul and boring. I started to fell in love with it as my odometer tripped over 800miles. I know I'm going to kickass this Sunday in SCCA Solo event with this car as well :)

Go to your local Hyundai dealer and drive one to see if it has Seoul.


  1. daym thats pretty thorough review... cant wait to see it @ autox

  2. fantasic! love these cars. Glad you went with the v6. A tune should get you all the extra power you could ever want(plus taking 4 cats off geez. The suby went from 3 to 0 ha). sick write-up man.