Hyundai is a company that is fascinating to me. Bigger than Ford, there’s probably not a brand in the land that’s tried harder to haul its products out of the mire and into respectability over the past 20 years. And yet, as a quick trip to New York State has revealed, the Hyundais sold on that side of the pond march to the beat of a less well-tuned drum.
I drove three, and one I quite liked. It is called Equus and is a large, V8-powered saloon designed as a more affordable answer to a big Limo from Mercedes, Audi or Lexus. It would never sell in the UK because we’re a nation of badge snobs, but it was quiet, comfortable and effective.
Which are not adjectives I’d use to describe the Sonata hybrid. This Mondeo-sized saloon offers zero driving pleasure and a poor drive-train which serves to remind that the sooner the Americans embrace diesel, the better off they’re all going to be.
But the shock was the so-called Genesis Coupé R. On paper it should be a hoot: it’s a great-looking sports car that uses a fine-sounding 3.8-litre V6 motor to direct 348bhp to the rear wheels alone via a sixspeed manual gearbox. What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a lot, as it happens. This is a car which provides immense performance with one hand, while removing all motive for using it with the other. The chassis appears to have been tied down by roll bars made of railway track, the car tramlines, the ride quality is terrible even on smooth american asphalt while the steering is devoid of feel. Within 10 miles I’d given up trying to drive it fast, turned around and returned the car to its creators.
Yet I reckon that if you gave it to the team responsible for the supple, controlled chassis that underpin almost every Hyundai sold in Europe, the car could be transformed in
a week. It was once mooted that the Genesis might be sold over here, but the idea was rejected. On this evidence it is not hard to see why.
ENGINE: 3.8 litres, six cylinders, petrol
TOP SPEED: 170mph (estimated)
PRICE: not on sale
POWER: 348bhp at 6400rpm