By Alex Taylor III
April 13, 2010

As I was studying the Monroney label for the 2010 Genesis coupe, a piece of information caught my eye:

The car’s color was called Tsukuba Red. A quick Google search revealed that Tsukuba is the name of a racing circuit, not in Korea where the Coupe is made, but in Japan.

That seemed odd, since relations between Korea and Japan have been frosty, dating back to Japan’s 35-year occupation of Korea that began in 1910.

I could add particularly odd, since the Coupe is an exceptionally sporty ride and a great value, a worthy competitor in a segment that includes Mustangs, Camaros, and Nissan 370Zs. What’s with the strange name?

A Hyundai executive explained that all the Coupe’s colors are named after race tracks, and that Hyundai had had a relationship with Tsukuba.

Okay, but I would have settled for something as simple as Raceway Red.

While investigating the story behind the color name I came across some other interesting data points:

1. The Coupe has the youngest average age of any model in the Hyundai lineup, about 42, and it commands an above-average transaction price of about $26,500 — some $5,000 more than the average Hyundai.

2. The Coupe also does well in its segment. Its share of retail sales is 5.4%, higher than Hyundai’s overall retail share of 4.6%.

3. Best of all from Hyundai’s standpoint, the Coupe doesn’t steal sales from other models in the lineup. Every sale is made to a customer who otherwise would be shopping somewhere else.

Why they come to Hyundai is easy to understand. The uplevel coupe I drove has a 306-horsepower 3.8 liter V-6 engine (a 210-hp turbocharged four-cylinder is also available) and carries a base sticker price of $30,000 (plus $800 for freight and handling).

For that modest sum, you get loads of standard equipment, including a sunroof, leather seats, and the invaluable keyless ignition. This should get the attention of makers of German cars, where a similar list of options can add 25% or more to the sticker.

Hyundai’s all-inclusive price includes enough power to fling the Coupe to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds. You feel it immediately when you flick the paddle shifters into first and take off. And unlike some competitors, all that oomph doesn’t come at the expense of ride, handling, or overall stability.

While the Coupe feels a bit stiff over bumps, the steering is precise and the handling admirable. The Coupe comported itself in challenging situations as well as Phil Mickelson did hitting off the pine straw at Augusta.

About the only thing the Coupe lacks is a history. As a new model from a nearly new manufacturer, the Coupe doesn’t have a genealogy of famous races, celebrity owners, and other trappings that come with age.

But a couple of decades on the market should solve that. They said the same thing about Lexus back in 1989.

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