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Posted: October 28, 2013

Executive wheels: Beauty and the beast

A middling Mazda and hot, hot Hyundai

Jeff Rundles

They added on a GT Technology package for $2,080, that includes radar cruise control, high beam control, forward obstruction warning, and a lane departure warning system, which is cool stuff. Add a couple of other little things, and a $795 destination charge, and the bottom line is $32,845. That’s competitive for all you get here – and the car should be on the shopping list if a midsized family sedan is in the offing – but I can’t help but think that if you drove all the competitors I mentioned, I still believe that this Mazda would be a minority choice. Nice vehicle – well-equipped, well-made, handsome – but not the above-and-beyond car that Mazda would need to steal market share.

RATING:  THREE WHEELS (OUT OF FOUR)

The 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track M/T is another story. I don’t generally like coupes, and I have come to appreciate automatic transmission over a stick, but this is one great car, and I wouldn’t even entertain the notion of getting an automatic.

When they tell you you’re getting a Hyundai, you’re thinking it’ll be another relatively well-made, Asian automobile – some kind of Toyota knock-off – that comes with a great warranty. What you don’t expect is a beast.

Suited up with a 3.8-liter V6 with a whopping 348 horsepower (rated 18 city/27 highway), this Genesis Coupe can flat-out fly – and it’s a joy to drive. It is so powerful that it shocked me more than once. It is extremely quick off the line, unbelievably quick entering and on the highway, and it has handling characteristics that you’d expect is a sports car – a Porsche, even. Yup, I’m comparing it to a Porsche.

Tight clutch, 6-speed manual that is effortless, tight and responsive steering, everything about this car bellows and roars and asks you – begs you! – to let it out. That, if fact, was one of its problems – I had a hard time obeying speed limits. It roared and purred at the same time on the highway, as if thanking me for a chance to run wild. I felt 30 years younger behind the wheel.

Now, of course, there are limitations. Getting into the back seat, like in all coupes, is a challenge, and there isn’t much of a trunk here, and with rear-wheel drive it’s not going to be the best snow car. But it’s so fun to drive, you might just want one part-time to be able to tap into the fountain-of-youth aspect when the mood strikes.

There are eight trims in the Genesis Coupe lineup (there’s also a very nice Genesis sedan): $24,250 includes a 2.0-liter I4 engine with a mere (he said somewhat sarcastically) 274 horsepower. This 3.8 Track M/T model, carrying a base price of $33,000, had only an option for $105 of carpeted floor mats and $35 for an iPod cable – then they added $875 in destination charges for a bottom line of $34,015.

Included in the base price was pretty much all the bells and whistles you’d need – that 10-year Hyundai powertrain warranty, a 5-year/60k miles unlimited warranty, power driver’s seat, xenon headlights, fog lights, heated mirrors with turn signals embedded, 7” touchscreen nav system, satellite radio, 360-watt Infinity 10-speaker audio, Bluetooth, all the technology plug-ins, traction and stability control.

The cockpit is comfortable and user-friendly, and the seats are stiff in that European way that keeps you alert and that are great for a long haul. Trust me – you’ll appreciate that in that this car, as I said, begs to be driven, and you’ll be out for long drives somewhere where the local cops’ radar is on the blink.

RATING:  FOUR WHEELS AND A SPARE (OUT OF FOUR)        

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Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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