Many buyers may still associate the Hyundai brand name with affordable, if uninspiring, econoboxes, but the Korean carmaker is out to create a very different image with the two aggressive new offerings it has brought to this year’s North American International Auto Show.
Both target the small but high-profile coupe market, one taking aim at a more luxurious niche, the other giving young buyers on a budget the opportunity to still have a little fun when the light turns green.
It’s been barely a year since Hyundai first pulled the wraps off the quirky Veloster, with its asymmetric hatchback body featuring two relatively conventional doors on the passenger side, just one on the driver’s. The quirky little offering received generally positive reviews – for everything, that is, but its anemic, 138-horsepower engine.
With the launch of the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo, those complaints will likely go away – fast.
The new spin-off features a twin-scroll turbocharger that pumps out the sort of horsepower-per-liter – specific output in technical lingo – that you’d normally expect from a supercar from the likes of Lamborghini. At 125.6 hp/liter, that works out to 201 ponies for the 1.6-liter engine, which still manages about 38 mpg on the Highway, not much of a decline from the 43 mpg of the base engine.
The new Veloster also gets a sport-tuned exhaust note, which should be a relief to those also disappointed by the wimpy rasp of the original hatchback.
For those looking for even more performance, Hyundai has updated its original Genesis Coupe – a model-year after the Genesis sedan got the mid-cycle treatment.
The new Coupe features a decidedly more aggressive look, with updates to virtually all the front-end details, including grille, fascia and lamps. There are also a number of interior updates, such as a new electroluminescent gauge cluster. But what should really interest potential buyers is just out of sight.
The big 3.8-liter V-6 now goes Direct Injection, which helps bump horsepower to 348, with torque climbing to 295 lb-ft (using premium fuel). The six-banger delivers 18 miles in the City, 27 on the Highway, according to the EPA, with the 8-speed automatic gearbox. Surprisingly, the Highway number dips to 27 with the 6-speed manual.
To ensure a wide power band, the V-6 adopts Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (Dual CVVT) and a Variable Intake System (VIS) to help it breathe efficiently at both low and high RPMs.
The smaller, 2.0-liter inline-four is now paired with a twin-scroll turbocharger and improved intercooler, with that yielding 274 hp and 275 lb-ft, again with premium fuel. Mileage runs 20/31 with the automatic, 21/30 with the manual.
Hyundai is one of the rare makers to now offer two affordable, sporty coupes in its line-up, “hero cars,” in the words of marketing chief Michael O’Brien, that should catch the eyes of those not familiar with all the changes the Korean automaker has undergone in recent years.