2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec review: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec

On the road, the 14 percent increase in power translates, predictably, into much more straight-line speed. I complained earlier about not being able to drive the 3.8 R-Spec smoothly at slow speeds, but who would want to when grin-inducing velocities are just a quick blip of the throttle and bark of the engine away?

Reach down and give the Traction Control button a tap and the already rather unintrusive driver aid system backs off and gives you more freedom to slip the rear tires. Power oversteer is now at your command and is backed up by an extremely communicative chassis and responsive steering so you never really feel out of control. (At the very least, I didn't. Your mileage may vary.)

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec
Hyundai is so proud of the Genesis Coupe's power and torque that it's fitted the R-Spec with a torque meter, pictured here in the center. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

A flat torque curve means that shifting becomes less of an issue if you're just cruising your favorite back road and not driving at 9/10 on the track. Hyundai is so proud of the 3.8-liter engine's output that it has put a torque meter on the center stack to let you know just how much grunt the engine is giving it. This gauge is more for the passenger's entertainment because it's located fairly low on the center stack, making watching it while driving a dangerous endeavor. Keep those eyes on the road, kids, and let the ol' butt dyno measure the power for you.

Cabin tech: What you get and what you don't
The R-Spec trim level is defined as much by what creature comforts you don't get as by the go-faster additions that you do. You'll find no cruise control buttons on the Coupe's steering wheel, and the exterior rearview mirrors lose their heating elements and turn-signal indicators. The R-Spec doesn't get the Track trim level's Xenon HID headlamps or its proximity keyless entry with push-button start. While you're at it, go ahead and forget about navigation tech, a sunroof, Infinity premium audio, or power-adjustable heated seats. The manually adjusting leather buckets get red fabric inserts, as do a few other dash and door panels, but that's the extent of the R-Spec's luxury appointments.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec
Navigation isn't available at the R-Spec trim level. You're stuck with this monochromatic LCD for most of your infotainment interactions. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

However, as stripper models go, the Genesis Coupe R-Spec is still pretty well-equipped.

Hyundai's standard Bluetooth connectivity suite is present, with A2DP stereo audio streaming and hands-free calling with voice command and address book sync. Simply hit the voice command button and tell the system who you want to call, and the Genesis Coupe will handle the rest. However, when pulling entries from our test HTC ThunderBolt Android phone, the voice command system inverted the first and last names of the entries, meaning that we had to awkwardly say, "Call Goodwin Antuan at work" rather than the more natural "Antuan Goodwin." CNET editor Wayne Cunningham has reported a similar issue when testing other Hyundai vehicles with an iPhone. Whether you'll have this problem depends on how your particular paired phone stores and reports its entries.

Audio sources for the R-Spec's standard six-speaker audio system include a single-disc CD/MP3 player, AM/FM terrestrial radio, XM Satellite Radio, analog auxiliary audio input, and a USB port with MP3 playback capability. If you want to connect your iPod or iPhone to the audio system, you'll need to spring for the optional Hyundai iPod dock connector cable, which bridges the Coupe's USB and analog inputs to offer total control of the iPod's file system. It's a $35 option, but it's worth every penny.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec
Like all new Hyundai models, the Genesis Coupe comes standard with USB and auxiliary inputs for your MP3 player. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

By tech car standards, the R-Spec is sparsely equipped. But by track car standards, it's got everything you need and nothing you don't. Add a Bluetooth-connected smartphone running a navigation application and the Genesis Coupe R-Spec's technology will easily rival about any OEM technology package on the road today.

In sum
Pricing a 2013 Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec is simple because there are no options. The MSRP is $28,750 and you've only got four colors to choose from -- sadly, Interlagos Yellow doesn't make a return appearance in the Coupe's palette this year. Add $875 in destination fees and you're at our as-tested price of $29,625. Add $35 more bucks if you're an iPod or iPhone user for the cable, or skip it if you're not.

At that price, the R-Spec Coupe is offering the performance of something like a Nissan 370Z with the Track package for the price of a modern muscle car like the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro V6. As I said earlier, the Genesis Coupe 3.8 is no longer just an alternative -- it's a genuine contender. And we haven't even discussed the 2.0T R-Spec, which is poised to wipe the smile off of the face of every Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S owner it passes this year.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec
The extra power all but makes up for the new, polarizing exterior aesthetic. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

You may notice that the Coupe's total score has dropped since we last took a spin. That's because despite being fairly well equipped for a stripped-down performance variant, the R-Spec's rather basic level of cabin technology doesn't wow us the way that it did a year ago, resulting in a low-to-middling cabin tech score (the most heavily weighted of our three scoring criteria). We saw a similar thing happen with cars like the Mazda Miata PRHT and the Ford Mustang Boss 302 : they're all great cars, but we wouldn't be Car Tech if we neglected the tech. The performance score has improved greatly thanks to the transmission fixes and, of course, the additional power and fuel economy, which helps to minimize the loss.

If you're looking for tech, consider the 2013 Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track. It's about 100 pounds heavier than the R-Spec and about $4,250 more expensive with the manual transmission, but it also comes standard with automatic temperature controls, navigation, and premium audio. It's definitely the car to go CNET-style in. But if you've got a GPS-enabled smartphone that you don't mind suction-cupping to the windshield, the R-Spec is a great way to get the go-fast goodies while saving a few bucks. It certainly delights my inner Luddite.

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About The Author

Antuan Goodwin gained most of his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and performance to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable. Email Antuan, follow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook. Antuan