Archive for May, 2009

27
May
09

The Genesis Device

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Hyundai’s aptly named rear-wheeled drive coupe has caught the eye of many an enthusiast since its j-turning debut at last year’s New York Auto Show, and it’s not difficult to see why. Hyundai’s second attempt at an RWD performance car, the Genesis coupe’s 3.8L V6 is an intriguing addition to the sports car market, a place populated with luxury coupes and beastly muscle cars. So how will the Genesis contend?

I don’t go upstate much, and when I do, it’s usually for ill-advised plummeting down a mountain side with a plank of wood bound to my feet. Heading out to Gran Prix New York and taking the Genesis coupe out for a spin seemed like an ideal reason to take the trip.

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The exterior lines of the Genesis coupe follow a “Z” line, which results in a haunchy rear and a front end that rounds out to a low, grinning facia. The coupe looks primed to pounce and attack the road with 19″ inch alloy wheels. Hyundai’s use of the contour lines that run down the hood and across the Genesis’s hips add to it’s elegant and sporty demeanor.

Our journey begins as I and a fellow journalist head out for some country air in the 3.8 Grand Touring model, sporting the 6-speed automatic transmission. As we hit the highway, we lay the pedal down to the extremely satisfying sound of the V6 bark with impunity as the revs climbed. the automatic transmission, with optional paddle shift, was extremely responsive, with every gear change quick and deliberate.

Interior styling of the Genesis coupe is just as purposeful. Both passenger and driver positions are comfortable, with many standard features on all models to keep you entertained, such as ipod connectivity, satellite radio, and bluetooth wireless. The Grand Touring package will also bestow upon you keyless start with a proximity sensor, leaving your keys free to languish in your pocket. Oddly, if you so choose to indulge in the vestigial habit of inserting your key to start, you may do so, but it’s done in the center console under a panel that hides the AC outlet. To older motorists, this will feel like putting your keys in the ashtray. An ashtray that won’t close because the key is sticking out. It’s an unusual oversight in a generally well-designed interior that looks to have been an afterthought at best.

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Off the highway now as we decide to soak up some the local culture. As it is the early days of summer, the weather is ideal for trips through the towns adjacent to Mt. Kisco. Portrait-like green hills adorned with white barns and country houses were our back drop with wooden fences occasionally poking out the hedges along the backroads, cradling flowers.

We eventually stopped for a bite to eat and swapped out our Genesis Coupe for another with a manual transmission, eager to see what we could do with it on the windy country roads back.

We gave our new Genesis Coupe a proper thrash on the journey home, with the 3.8-liter V6 putting as much of the 306hp to the rear as we could, as the Coupe’s 5-link rear suspension keeping the car hugging bends comfortably. Put the Genesis Coupe in 3rd, and let the car cut through turns, as the revs climb endlessly, but attempt a proper downshift, and the response is muted at best. Heel-toe from say, 5th to 4th, and you’ll feel awkward and dissatisfied. Try to lay down some tire marks and you’ll feel just as uncomfortable.

Bare in mind, it’s a hot day, with even hotter roads and very well-warmed tires, but we do attempt a little horse play with some friends. Perhaps it’s due to my V8 inclination, but I rev between 3 and 4k and drop the clutch without so much as a chirp. Fine. I redline the tach and try again and get yet another, albeit slightly more sustained…chirp. You won’t impress anyone with your wheel-spinning bravado in the Genesis Coupe.

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Come to think of it, however, that’s OK because that’s not the point of the Coupe. As a spiritual successor to Nissan’s 240SX, the Genesis Coupe looks to be the sports coupe that’s affordable, easily modded, and maintain a track-oriented nimbleness.

I tried desperately to write this without using the phrase “bang for your buck”, but I must concede failure, as you do get plenty of one for the other. If we look at it’s immediate competitors, it stands alone in many areas. The engineering benchmarks set for the Genesis Coupe have been cars such as the Infiniti G37, the Mazda RX-8 and the BMW 335i. Does it meet these high standards? the short answer is “no”, but the more involved response is that the car performs admirably in this company but falls short, but not by much, mind you, and for significantly less money.

the 2.0 I-4 turbo model starts at $22,000 while the fully loaded 3.6L track package with automatic tops out at $31,000. At the moment, there’s only one real competitor at this price range with an HP output of around 300hp:

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yup.

Yes, the 2010 Mustang runs the $25-$30K line, which makes for tricky shopping decisions, and ultimately, boils down to personal taste.

Having spent time in both, my choice has to go to the Mustang (remember: biased), as I find the build quality to be superior, the cabin to be more comfortable, and the engine response to be more substantial. However, the v8 obviously runs a lower mpg, it’s heavier, and the Genesis Coupe comes with more standard features and is the more nimble vehicle.

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I would easily take the Genesis Coupe over the 2010 Camaro LS, which only beats the coupe in looks alone, but more on that later.

At the end of our cruise, we decided that the Genesis Coupe has set out in the right direction to become a truely exceptional car, but the best things come with time, and Genesis, appropriately enough, is a great start.

  • Specs: 2010 Hyundai Genesis coupe 3.8T
  • Layout: RWD  2-door coupe w/ front engine
  • Engine: 3.8L v6  306 Hp @6,300 rpm
  • Performance: top speed- 137mph 0-60- 5.7sec (C&D)
  • Transmission:6-speed manual/6-speed ZF w/SHIFTRONIC
  • Suspension: MacPherson strut dual-link front suspension, 5-link rear suspension
  • Price: $25,750

-Alex K-

Photos courtesy of egmCarTech

18
May
09

Punch Buggy

So I’ve been thinking about my Beetle.

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Before Mustangs and journalism, there was my 2000 1.8 turbo Beetle, the Ska-pumping chariot that took me to many adventures all over South Florida and eventually New York.

Like most of us with a cherished 4-wheeled companion, I can’t begin to list you all of the experiences me and the bug have shared over the years, both inside and out (you’d be surprised at what can happen in the back of a Volkswagen).

What I can tell you is that the Beetle’s taken more than it’s share of knocks, seen a load of miles and been a source of immense joy and profound frustration.  and as a reward for years of service, it sits unused, broken and dirty, in the driveway.

When it was (barely) running, I could hardly stand to dispose of it in any way when it seemed prudent to do so, which was surprising at the time because it was around then that hated it with every cell in my body. The engine was copping out on me, the little bits were breaking, and slowly all the systems deteriorated to a level between working and completely broken. they just languished in that irritating technological state of limbo where everything has a trick to it or works just enough.

I got my Mustang and turned my back so fast on the Beetle, the trees swayed. Mom drove it for a while, but then it just wasn’t worth fixing and subsequently worth the risk. It was parked in a spot in the driveway, had the plates removed, and was left there to die.

Well, it’s coming on 10 years that I had the thing, and the Beetle has sat in its spot for so long, I’m almost blind to it now, but every once in a while, someone offers to buy it, or someone wonders just what I’m going to do with it and I quickly dismiss them. I still can’t let it go, heartstrings still firmly attached.

I went out today to give it a real good once-over and to think of just what do to with the damn thing. The battery has long since died. all fluids in the car need to be flushed and replaced. the body is filthy from enduring the elements and every exterior nook and cranny is filled with bits of earth. The engine needed work before, so by now I’m sure it needs significant attention. Tires, Flat. Interior is surprisingly just as I left it, like a time capsule of 2 years ago, with all the patina of a decade’s worth of experience.

It has since it was new, and to this day, smells like crayons.

The conclusion? It may seem crazy, but I want to fix it, and not only make it work, but make it better. I want to take the old Punch-Buggy and give it a second, more exciting lease on life. It won’t be easy since I have neither the money nor any mechanical skill but it’s what I have decided.

So here’s the deal, Internet:  If you have any desire to come and build my bug into something surprisingly amazing, if you have tools that are itching to be used, a spot in the garage that longs for a project, or any ideas as to just what we can turn this car into, contact me.

I’ll be chillin’ with my Bug.

-Alex K-

05
May
09

Me, watching you, watching you.

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Some media events are less about the product and more about the people.  Case in point, the Tesla Model S event I attended last week ( yes, I’ve been blog-lazy, let’s carry on). Not particularly knowing what to expect, I grabbed the ever stalwart V to join me to see just how much Model S we’d be privy to. Car and open bar. I’m there.

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50% of why I attend these things.

Held at the IAC building, The model S was indeed the centerpiece of the event, accompanied with a fully electric Smart ForTwo and the tenacious Roadster.

Tesla CEO and avid NY Times reader Elon Musk gathered everyone around to discuss details and plans for the Model S as well as what to expect as far as a Tesla presence in NYC.  Comparable to a Mercedes E-class in size, the Model S features a “skateboard” layout, meaning the Li-Ion battery lies in the floor of the car between both axles, with the motor in the back. The Model S will seat 7: two in front, three in the back, and “child seating” in the far rear, to, presumably, stow pesky children out of sight and reach.

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Elon dropped the mythical 45 minute charge number for the Model S, as well as the $50,000 price tag, which as the fine print states includes a $7,500 tax credit and is for the 150 mile range model, not the full 300 mile range. A 0-60 time is expected to be in the 5’s with a top speed of 130 mph. Carbon footprint was mentioned, environmental impact and such, and my attention predictably wavered.

The Tesla Motors showroom that is planned for Manhattan will be uniquely located within a functioning art gallery, which sounds interesting. I hope to see how that works in practice.

Impressions: One, the name “Model S” could go. I’ve written and corrected “S-class” multiple times in this article alone. It’s secret production name was “WhiteStar”, why couldn’t it have remained so? More automobiles would do well to be named like a Finnish metal band.

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The front apes the Maserati GranTurismo a bit, and the rear hints of Jaguar (which whiffs of Aston). The combination works well enough. It’s not stunningly gorgeous, but it’s far from hideous.

Crossing the street and heading over to Pier 60, we had the opportunity to ride shotgun in a rapid zip up and down the car park. It seems to retain the torque the Roadster provides, and our vantage got us a peek at button-less center console, an LCD touch screen that manages A/C, radio and google maps. This corresponds to the fully LCD gauges for the driver.

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"Black Star" by radiohead? was that a clue?

It was just around midnight when we made our way back to the Building, and most had cleared out, having had their ride in the Model S, but Letterman was coming on, thus so was Elon, so we stuck around to watch Musk…watch Musk. The screens across the walls of the venue, which had been showing glamor shots and B-roll of the Model S, turned to the show, and the music was dropped as the broadcast begun.

Elon’s monotone interview lucid tones seemed to hypnotize Letterman, who bestowed Musk with heaps of praise, along with laying piles of disdain on the Chevy Volt, hydrogen fuel technology, and the US car makers in general. Dave Letterman, team player as always.

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As we slipped out, the interview watching left me with a bitter taste in my mouth since I was then reminded of all the “Me vs. You” garbage that I personally had been guilty of, and at great effort been conscientious to change. The elitism, the smug, all happily not shoved down my throat or hardly encountered at the event, all displayed on broadcast television.  Jay Leno again comes out as the better, more informed man (on Hydrogen, on US carmakers, and even on Tesla). Some people just want to be fashionably superior to everyone.

It gets really old, really quick.

-Alex K-

Check out the Model S site for more info here.

And feel free to watch the Letterman segment here. (UPDATE: video removed by user. try scouring youtube or google.)