Has Korea Built a Better Muscle Car Than America?

2009 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

The new face of muscle?

The folks over at MotorTrend have pitted the V6 2011 Ford Mustang against the V6 versions of the 2010 Chevy Camaro and 2010 Dodge Challenger.

While that may seem perfectly ordinary, and even predictable, they also invited the 2009 Hyundai Genesis Coupe to the party. And guess who showed up and kicked some serious booty?

Perhaps adding the Hyundai to the competition was nothing more than a way to add variety to a dull test of V6 American muscle. Or maybe it’s a signal of a coming shift in the definition of what a muscle car is….

You see, the landscape of muscle cars could change, because the Genesis Coupe won the head-to-head competition, beating the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger at their own game. Seriously.

Here’s a brief summary of what Motortrend said about each car:

4th place: Dodge Challenger SE
A yacht trying to keep up with speedboats, but the ride and style are smooth.

3rd place: Chevrolet Camaro RS
A quick coupe whose weight sacrifices fun and cartoonish cabin compromises comfort.

2nd place: Ford Mustang V-6
New 3.7 is nearly as quick as last year’s 4.6-liter V-8, and more fun to drive, too.

1st place: Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Track
The only one that looks and feels like a sports car. Surprise, we liked it best.

And there’s where I see the rub. Since when are muscle cars supposed to feel like sports cars? They’re not. I don’t fault Motortrend for setting up this competition, but sure don’t see how the Genesis wins. The Mustang is lighter, less expensive, and faster – all things a muscle car should be.

Giving the Genesis Coupe the win seems to open the door to the question of what a muscle car should be. To me, a muscle car is an affordable rear-wheel-drive two-door with a powerful engine. A sports car is meant for high-speed touring and road racing.

The Genesis Coupe is not a muscle car. Plus, at $30,000, I’d much rather sit behind the wheel of the 2011 Mustang GT 5.0.

Now that’s muscle.

Is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe a muscle car? Should it have won against the American V6 muscle cars?


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  1. Excuse me for saying this, but I believe Car & Driver (or one of those other automotive magazines) has clearly stated that when these cars have the V6’s in them, they are referred to as “Pony Cars”. It isn’t until you put the V8’s in them, that they turn into “Muscle Cars”. Therefore, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, while very good, has not “re-defined” the muscle car as we know it, it has only thrown another vehicle into the pony car category. …& if this is true, then the Infinity G37 Coupe should also be pitted against the rest of these. If not, then the Genesis Coupe & the G37 Coupe should have their own battle & leave the American V6 segment alone.

  2. i agree with MT: the Hyundai looks beautiful and out-performs the other guys. If you want a label, call it a sports coupe. It has a better warranty and seems to me worth the few extra bucks. Muscle cars are on the way out: handwriting on the wall.

  3. The Hyundai out-handled all those cars and kept up with all except the Mustang, which is more expensive. Its looks are a world apart from the Mustang, so I think it will appeal to different folks, but who cares whether it’s a “muscle car”?

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