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<b>Goodbye to the ugly duckling</b>
<i>With Ferrari-like looks and a V6 engine, Hyundai's new Coupe is a car transformed compared with its hit-and-miss predecessor</i>
<p>Take a Honda badge and microwave it for three minutes on full power, then spread with a knife. You now have a Hyundai badge, the 'H' splodge, a non-logo for a non-brand and a fitting metaphor for the whole Hyundai experience.
<p>Because, like its Japanese badgesake, Hyundai's mission has always been about sensible: dull dynamics, good build quality and very, very nice warranties. But now meet the car to break the mould: the all-new, second generation Coupe.
<p>Okay, the original Coupe was quite fun in an underdamped, underbraked, cross-eyed ugly kind of way. But the new Coupe is a large step forward, an expression of new-found corporate confidence. Despite the prevailing international mood of economic doom, Hyundai is doing very nicely indeed, thanks. Some clever restructuring a few years back avoided the hideous financial problems suffered by Korean budget bucket maker Daewoo. For the first nine months of the year Hyundai made $710 million.
<p>And its design transformation continues apace. The new Coupe has good proportions and, despite the numerous double-take details (Skyline front, Maserati 3200 rear, Ferrari 456 flanks) the total effect is integrated and quite interesting.
<p>It's less good inside, predictably. Everything fits together well enough (except for a seat-base creak on our test car). But the <i>quality</i> of the interior plastics makes you wonder if Korea's Christmas cracker novelty manufacturers are diversifying, with hard, easy-scratch surfaces, cheap feeling switchgear and, as with all European Hyundais, an easy-to-nick standard DIN-sized radio with distratctingly flashy graphics and tiny, hard-to-operate buttons.
<p>The cabin is reasonably sized and the seats comfortable enough, with plenty of driving position adjustment. Rear space is tight but the boot is suprisingly large for one so stylish. Pretty sensible, altogether.
<p>Still, it wouldn't be a Hyundai without some comedy touches. In the new Coupe's case, you get three aftermarket-looking dials in the middle of the dashboard. There's a voltmeter, which is fair enough, and an instantaneous fuel consumption dial, too small to do anything more than amuse your passengers. But the star gimmick is the torque gauge, telling you how much twist the engine is theoretically providing at a given engine speed, presumable to inform the all-important caravan-towing, coupe-buying demographic as to whether the noise they can hear is the big end bearings being reground at 6500RPM.
<p>Still, the torque gauge brings us usefully to the matter of actual torque. Lower down the range, power units stay as before: a 1.6-litre base (which we won't get in the UK yet), and then a slightly developed 136bhp 2.0-litre version of the outgoing Coupe's engine. But the star of the show is the 2.7-litre V6 we test drove. It's already been in the Santa Fe off-roader and Trajet people carrier. And the state-of-tune is hardly challenging specific capacity records: just 165bhp and 180lb ft of torque. But with a standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox, it turns the new Coupe into a fine driver's device.
<p>The Coupe V6 is an engine-defined car, one of a dying breed that gives as much pleasure from the sound and feel of the responsive powerplant as you get from the rest of the dynamic experience. Throttle response is sharp--almost too sudden for low-speed trundling--but with excellent proportionality as you go faster. A genuine, physical cable connected directly to a throttle body on the inlet manifold, rather than some modish fly-by-wire, is why.
<p>The gearbox takes slightly more getting used to. Initially it feels rubbery and less than accurate, but you quickly learn that speeding the change smooths it. A pity the gear-knob itself is such a horrible, greasy-feeling plastic item. The Coupe V6 isn't super-fast, but the well-chosen ratios and broad powerband help you make the most of the engine's podgy mid-range torque. And brakes are dramatically improved over the weedy, fade-prone anchors of the old Coupe, although the pedal still feels over-servoed.
<p>Hyundai chose to launch the new Coupe in the hills above Cannes in the south of France. It's a stern dynamic test that plenty of manufacturer's products prove laughably incapable of mastering (star exhibit the Toyota Camry elsewhere in this issue, introduced to the press on the same roads). But the Hyundai proved up to the task. Steering is good, with quick reactions, some feel and proportional responses. Grip levels are surprisingly low; despite pukka Michelin Pilot Sports, low-speed power-on optimism gets the Hyundai squealing like a hog, boy. But withing its limits, the Coupe does well. Turn-in is clean and crisp, default stance is neutral and the eventual understeer can be reduced or cancelled by judicious easing of the throttle. Normally is stays very safe indeed; only really big steering inputs or snapping the accelerator shut on serious amounts of front-end breakaway can produce oversteer. Springs are very firm but, unlike the outgoing Coupe, the dampers are even firmer, more than capable of keeping the chassis under tight control over crests.
<p>The flipside is the very borderline ride. It's absolutely unforgiving: blame the decision to "Euro-optimise" the suspension. Even on the well-maintained French tarmac of the launch venue it crashed and banged over the smalles undulations. On British roads it promises to be truly gruesome. Not, I'd suggest, a car for protracted inner-city work.
<p>Hyundai is also rusing a party as Fiat Coupe, Ford Cougar and Ford Puma grab their coats. Obvious remaining competitors are the under-whelming Astra and Civic coupes, but also the fine-looking, fine-driving Toyota Celica. Granted, the basic 140bhp Celica is down on power, and its busy four-pot engine is no match for Hyundai's V6 on mechanical charisma. But the Toyota is well-equipped, almost as fast, and surprisingly close to where Hyundai reckons the Coupe will end up on price. It's hinting at £19,000-odd for a fully loaded V6. That's a hell of a lot for a Hyundai, even a nice one, and possibly too much for the brand-conscious British consumer. Still, but for price and the appalling ride, this is a genuinely fine car.


<hr noshade width=60% size=1 align=left>"Hey, if my prize is your foot up my arse... its still a prize.... " - <b>WhoopOi</b>
 

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sucks that the ride is rough.


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Discussion Starter #3
Why? It'll be rough anyways when you lower it <img src=/images/forums/snitz/laugh.gif width=15 height=31 border=0>.


<hr width=60% noshade size=1 align=left>"Hey, if my prize is your foot up my arse... its still a prize.... " - <b>WhoopOi</b>
 

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dont get smart with me <img src=/images/forums/snitz/tongue.gif width=15 height=15 border=0>


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Which magazine did the article come from 4door??


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Obviously the U.S. version will be tuned differently, so maybe ours won't be so rough...and who are they calling an ugly duckling?


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So the ride is rough? That also mean the suspension is firm, and can probably be taced to the michelins to some extent.


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Don't forget that this guy seemed extraordinarily anti-Hyundai. Every compliment he gave was begrudging at best...at leasts that the impression I got. I think he HAD to find something overly negative about the card, and the ride was the only real mechanical flaw he could attack.

Its typical when reading Hyundai reviews..you get similiar when reading Santa Fe stuff. <img src=/images/forums/snitz/smile.gif width=15 height=15 border=0>


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they just dont want to admit that hyundai cars are now great cars.... perhaps if they say that its great, they might be labeled as a joke.....thats what I call peer pressure...<img src=/images/forums/snitz/tongue.gif width=15 height=15 border=0>


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"Okay, the original Coupe was quite fun in an underdamped, underbraked, cross-eyed ugly kind of way. "

It is kinda funny, cause the other 3 or 4 articles I have seen from England on here say that the original design was very good and hard to beat.

I would have to agree that this guy dislikes Hyundai to start with. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a Honda lover because of the beginning statements that are most common when comparing Honda to Hyundai by a Honda ethusiast.


<hr width=60% noshade size=1 align=left>1999 Hyundai Sonata GL V6
H7 Blue Eurolite
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55 shot Nitrous Express

--no longer with me--
1997 Hyundai Tiburon
Was a brave soul when combating the evil forces.
 

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That author sounds like a moron.

Did he ever even drive the previous tib?

Talking about it's bad suspension, and weak brakes??

What the hell...maybe he drove a k-car and someone told him it was a tib. Not sure how he says the current 4 wheel disc have all these fading problems. Maybe I should take him for a ride, and show him how I can stop 4-5 times in a row from top speed and get minimal brake fade on the 5th try only. What a chump.

And the comments about the styling...where exactly does he see "skyline" in the front end? Has he ever seen a skyline?

<hr width=60% noshade size=1 align=left>2000 Red Tiburon SE /w Leather
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Custom CAI, Vibrant Exhaust, Underdrive Pulley
12" Kicker Competitions, Cobalt amps, MTX powered x-over, phoenix gold cap, clarion cd
 
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