Korean auto giant Hyundai has been working hard to impress the entire world in recent years. Along with fellow Korean brand Kia (in which Hyundai has a third stake), Hyundai has been broadening its range and shedding a long-held image that many Hyundai cars are just of the “steady Eddie” variety – simple, reliable, but with no ‘spark.’
With the launch of their luxury wing, Genesis, however, Hyundai is overturning stereotypes and competing globally with the big Asian tigers like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.
Let's look at some of those Hyundai sports cars that have been a part of this global image update for Hyundai.
1. Hyundai Genesis Coupe (2009-2016)
The Genesis Coupe was the first attempt for Hyundai to create a RWD sports coupe for the domestic market in South Korea. Under the hood, you’d find a 2.0L Theta II MPi inline-4 engine or a 3.8L Lambda II RS MPi V6 engine. That second option was upgraded to the GDi model in 2013.
It was initially envisioned to deliver something that would compete with the Infiniti G-Series from Nissan’s luxury wing. It featured a sleek look, with many comparing it to the likes of the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, as well as the Infiniti IPL G. The combination of luxury and sports car feel proved popular, and the car was well received by American audiences from its first arrival there in 2009.
The latest version in 2016 came in three trims, with the base-level 3.8, R-Spec, and the 3.8 Ultimate. It was competitively priced in the market, with the top-level Ultimate starting at $33,750, more expensive than some other popular tuner cars . The 3.8L standard model was a real performance machine, boasting 348hp and paired to a manual or automatic transmission.
Sport suspension also came as a standard feature, which was quite unusual for the time and this price point. Buyers could choose from some pretty nice upgrades, including Brembo brakes, a power sunroof, a limited-slip differential, heated front seats, and leather interiors.
In 2020 and 2021, a growing number of people started to recognize this Hyundai Genesis sports car as a bit of a lost gem and perhaps underrated somewhat in the time it was in the marketplace, often overshadowed by its rivals. That’s not surprising for an OEM’s first attempt at an all-new category.
Several special customized models were included with the first-generation models and helped boost the profile of the Genesis Coupe. Perhaps the most notable among these was the RM500 Genesis Coupe, made in 2011 by Rhys Millen Racing. This version featured an incredible 5.0L Tau V8 engine outputting a fantastic 450hp.
Among the many cool features were titanium exhaust tips, AEM engine management system, Brembo carbon ceramic rotors, Brembo 6-piston calipers up front and 4-piston calipers at the rear, interior suede trim, RMR carbon rear diffuser, and much more. Every inch of this custom beauty helped to demonstrate the potential of impressive Hyundai sports cars.
Photo by: Ki Hoon
Hyundai Veloster and Wider “N” Label (2011-Present)
Regarding the sports car variant of the Veloster, we have to turn to the top-of-the-line Veloster N models, which retailed for more than $30,000 in 2022, making it a pricey compact. But this is perhaps the first genuine and most appreciated Hyundai sports car.
The Veloster arrived in 2011, with the first generation offering just a 1.6L engine. Still, it included the Turbo GDI inline-4 gasoline model, which got up to 201hp and 195lb-ft of torque in the North American market, which was more powerful than the version exported to Europe. Hyundai spent the next several years developing special editions and concepts to enhance the Veloster before releasing the second generation in 2018.
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The second generation came with a significant amount of facelifting and redesigning and several different engine options, ranging from the 1.4L Kappa II T-GDI to the 2.0 Theta II T-GDI inline-4. However, as we mentioned above, things started to heat up when the high-performance Veloster N variant was released for the 2019 model year.
The Veloster N is the version that makes this compact a genuine sports car. The Theta 2.0 II T-GDI engine is paired with an 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, which helps propel the Veloster N from 0 to 60 in just 5.6 seconds. The engine's maximum output is an impressive 271hp and 260lb-ft of torque, with a top speed of 155mph.
As a compact sports model, the Veloster N is frequently compared to the Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf GTI, and the Mini John Cooper Works GP. It’s rightly described by many as a proper “hot hatch.” It rides on 19-inch wheels as standard, and despite its raw power and apparent track credentials, it still gets a respectable 28mpg on the highway.
Two of the most attractive features of the 2021 model that make it popular with thrill seekers are the electronically controlled suspension and the N “Corner Carving Differential,” abbreviated to eLSD. It helps to reduce understeer to improve stability when cornering actively. Combined with the Sport+ drive mode, you get unbelievable traction in this Hyundai.
Hyundai dropped the base Veloster from the lineup after the 2021 model year, leaving only the N variant. But the N also got axed the following year.
Photo by - MotorAuthority
Hyundai RM20e Prototype
Extending from the previous section, Hyundai in 2020 announced a new project called the RM20e. It is a zero-emissions all-electric vehicle that outputs a maximum power rating of 810hp and 708lb-ft torque.
The “RM” in the project name refers to “Racing Midship,” which refers to the car being a midship powertrain configuration. Hyundai hopes to create something of superlative balance and handling by creating a mid-mounted engine. You might also speculate that a bit of that RM refers to some of the brains behind the incredible powertrain from Croatian supercar maker Rimac. Hyundai acquired a stake in this company back in 2019.
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The RM20e features an 800-volt motor generating 596kW of power at its peak rate, equivalent to 810hp. The battery pack in the prototype is currently a 60kWh unit that can accept DC fast charging up to 705 volts, meaning it can be charged up very quickly. As a prototype, currently, there isn’t a production-ready model, but watch this space for more developments.
Forget 0 to 60; the RM20e already goes from 0 to 120mph in just 9.88 seconds. This is the car, according to Hyundai, that is going to usher in a new age of electrified N performance vehicles. Who was it who said electric cars were destined to be boring? Whoever it was wrong a thousand times by Hyundai.
Photo by MotorTrend
2022 Genesis G70
Finally, we turn to another Hyundai Genesis sports car, this time under the Genesis brand as an independent marque. The G70 may appear more of a luxury sedan to the uninitiated, but those in the know, know the racing genes that form the basis of this Hyundai’s DNA.
The G70 has undergone some redesign for the 2022 model year, receiving a more aggressive front-end design, which helps boost the sports car profile of this model. Furthermore, it comes with a 252hp engine as standard, but the available 365hp twin-turbo upgrade delivers on the sporty potential of the G70. Combined with the sport-tuned suspension, it makes for an unforgettable drive.
The most significant aspect of this Hyundai Genesis sports car is that it beautifully combines the most sumptuous and luxurious driving elements to create a high-end offering. The N models are undoubtedly the core of Hyundai’s sports car series. Still, it’s also encouraging that their luxury division is looking to further enhance the company’s credentials in performance metrics.
The G70 gets gorgeous leather interiors – even in a sporty and seductive red leather if you want – sleek brushed metal detailing, and the bold, powerful lines on the exterior mixed with the black-finish alloy wheels create something awe-inspiring. It’s a head-turner, for sure.
The front-end signature inverse pentagon grille is made lower and wider and further accented by gorgeous quad LED headlights with sharp lines.
Conclusion: Late to the Party, but Still a Major Player
Hyundai may still not be known for its sports car models in general, but the N series, in particular, is set to change all of that. Furthermore, as Genesis continues to grow as a global brand, there is plenty of scope for luxury sports car models in the future.
Genesis is expanding into the UK in 2021 and gaining traction everywhere else with its impressive new models. It’s a good bet that both Hyundai sports cars and the Hyundai Genesis sports car will quickly become established in hearts and minds everywhere.
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