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.
In today’s blog, we’re looking 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 initially you’d find a 2.0L Theta II MPi inline-4 engine, as well as an upgraded 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 likes of 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 3 trims, all sporting the superior 3.8L engine. They included the base-level 3.8, then the 3.8 R-Spec, and the 3.8 Ultimate. With the top-level Ultimate starting at $33,750, it was competitively priced in the market, although significantly more expensive than some of the other popular tuner cars. The 3.8L standard model was a real performance machine, too, with its 3.8L engine boasting 348hp paired to either a manual or automatic transmission.
Sport suspension also came as a standard feature, which was quite unusual for the time for 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 so surprising for an OEM’s first attempt at an all-new category.
A number of special customized models were made among the first-generation models which did help somewhat in boosting 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)
When it comes to the sports car variant of the Veloster, we really have to turn to the top-of-the-line Veloster N models, which in 2021 retail at over $30,000 making it a pricey compact, but this is perhaps the first true and most appreciated of the Hyundai sports cars.
The Veloster arrived in 2011, with the first generation offering just a 1.6L engine, but 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 further enhance the Veloster before releasing the second generation in 2018.
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The second generation came with a great amount of facelifting and redesigning, as well as several different engine options, ranging from the 1.4L Kappa II T-GDI to the 2.0 Theta II T-GDI inline-4. Where things really started to heat up, however, and as we mentioned further above, was when the high-performance Veloster N variant was released in the 2019 model year.
The Veloster N is the version that makes this compact a true sports car. The Theta 2.0 II T-GDI engine is paired with an 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, which together help propel the Veloster N from 0 to 60 in just 5.6 seconds. The top output of the engine 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 true “hot hatch.” It rides on 19-inch wheels as standard, and despite its raw power and apparent track credentials, still gets a respectable 28mpg on the highway.
Two of the most attractive features on the 2021 model that make it popular with thrill seekers are the electronically controlled suspension and the N “Corner Carving Differential” also abbreviated to eLSD. It helps to actively reduce understeer to improve stability when cornering. When combined with the Sport+ drive mode, you get unbelievable traction in this Hyundai.
It should be noted that the “N” badge for Hyundai isn’t limited to the Veloster. The N label has become a separate branding signal to show high-performance models. Other compact variants include the i20 N and i30 N, as well as the i30 Fastback N, all of which embody the N spirit of high performance.
Photo by - MotorAuthority
Hyundai RM20e Prototype
Extending from the previous section which touched on the N label, Hyundai in 2020 announced a new project they are working on called the RM20e. This electric model is the latest in a line of N-inspired high-performance sports cars from the Korean brand. The RM20e is a zero-emissions all-electric vehicle that outputs a maximum power rating of 810hp and 708lb-ft of torque. It first debuted in 2020 at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.
The “RM” in the project name refers to “Racing Midship” which in turn refers to the car being a midship powertrain configuration. By creating a mid-mounted engine, Hyundai are hoping to create something of superlative balance and handling. You might also speculate, if you wish, that a bit of that RM also refers to at least some of the brains behind the incredible powertrain, which have come from Croatian supercar maker Rimac. Hyundai actually 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, which is the equivalent of 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 help usher in a new age of electrified N performance vehicles, with stability and power both being brought forward front and center in the development plan. Who was it who said electric cars were destined to be boring? Whoever it was just proved 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 are aware of 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 we think helps a lot in boosting the sports car profile of this model. Furthermore, it comes with a 252hp engine as standard, but the available 365hp twin-turbo upgrade really delivers on the sporty potential of the G70. Combined with the sport-tuned suspension it makes for a really unforgettable drive.
Arguably the greatest aspect of this Hyundai Genesis sports car is that it beautifully ties together the most sumptuous and luxurious aspects of driving to create a really high-end offering. The N models are certainly the core of Hyundai’s sports car series, but it’s also encouraging to see that their luxury wing 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 really impressive. It’s a head-turner for sure.
The front-end signature inverse pentagon grille is even made lower and wider, and then further accented by gorgeous quad LED headlights with lines so sharp you’d feel you could cut yourself on them.
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 seems to be 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.