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Motoring: Let's talk about sports coupes

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | August 26th, 2013

In my view, the best way to enjoy good weather is by driving around in a nice sports car. But which one is best? Today let's look at three entry-level sports coupes to find out where your money should be spent.

The cars in question are the Subaru BRZ, the Scion FR-S and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T.

The Scion and the Subaru are corporate cousins. Scion, which is a brand under Toyota, wanted a rearwheel drive sports car of their own, but didn't want to bother going about it all by themselves. So, they decided to team up with Subaru, who were well on their way to producing just such a car. Toyota provided the money and the designer, while the Subaru boys and girls worked on the car's engineering. The end result does make the two cars look very similar, but if you look closely, you'll spot some differences: the front bumpers, the side gills, and the badges, of course.

Step inside and the two cars are again very similar, although some of the finishing is different. I found the mic for the Bluetooth system much more nicely integrated in the FR-S over the BRZ.

Both these cars have decent interiors that offer good space for occupants in the front, and crumple up anyone who tries to sit in the back.

In comparison, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe (I'll just call it HGC from now on) has a much nicer, much more spacious interior. Not only does it offer more room, but the interior fit, finish and design is far ahead of the Japanese twins. The HGC feels like a junior luxury coupe, and since I spend a lot of time on the road, I like that.

Some changes are welcome, though. The old 2.0-litre, turbocharged, inline four-cylinder motor produced just 210 hp, the new motor has 274 hp. In comparison, the BRZ and FR-S are a little behind in terms of power. Their 2.0- litre, normally aspirated, horizontally opposed (boxer) four-cylinder motor produces just 200 hp. However, the Japanese twins are a lot lighter than the Korean kid (BRZ/FR-S curb weight = 2,762 lbs. HGC R-spec curb weight = 3,418 lbs), hence the performance feels very similar. However, numbers talk a different game. While the BRZ/FR-S can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds when equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, the HGC R-spec with a six-speed manual gearbox can do that run in six seconds flat.

What I don't like about the HGC is its exterior styling. It's not bad, but it used to look better. When Hyundai decided to give the car a new nose last year, it spoiled the looks for me, mainly because they committed what I say is the ultimate sin in car design, by giving it fake hood vents. I hope when Hyundai decides to redesign this car they'll do away with unnecessary details like this.

As for ride and handling, all three cars have a stiff but comfortable ride.While not exactly smooth over coarse tarmac, nothing shakes and rattles in either of the cars. In the handling department, the HGC is fine, but is let down by its weight, and a steering system that tenses up a bit too much when attacking corners.

The handling is an area where the BRZ and the FR-S are quite different. Subaru went for a touring setup on the BRZ, which gives it a slightly softer ride and more lean in the corners. The Scion FR-S has much harder dampers, which gives the car a stiffer ride and makes it much more prone to oversteer. The enthusiasts will prefer the FR-S because it really does keep you on your toes.

If you're looking for a fun car, the FR-S wins. If you do lots of highway driving, the HGC is the car for you. The BRZ is the happy medium.

Prices for the HGC R-Spec start at $28,799. The BRZ is yours from $27,295. The FR-S is a bargain, starting at just $26,300.
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