MT V6 Coupe Comparo - Genesis vs Camaro vs Challenger vs Mustang

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    2011 Mustang V-6 vs 2010 Genesis Coupe 3.8 vs 2010 Camaro RS vs 2010 Challenger SE

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    April 12, 2010 / By Ron Kiino / Photography by Julia LaPalme

    Originating in the late 1960s, the term "musclecar" has always referred to an American coupe with a robust engine designed to generate stout levels of both speed and power. In other words, a rear-drive two-door V-8-propelled Yankee capable of producing thunderclouds of Firestone smoke.

    Today, much remains the same. Take a look at our recent comparison test between three modern musclecars -- Ford Mustang GT, Chevrolet Camaro SS, and Dodge Challenger SRT8 -- and you'll see that all are American designed and engineered (the Chevy and Dodge, it's worth noting, are assembled in Canada), feature brawny 400-plus-horsepower V-8 engines (the "smallest" displaces 5.0 liters), and are capable of quarter-mile times once reserved for race cars and import supercars (the Mustang GT needs just 12.7 seconds at 111.3 mph). It's safe to say that today's collection of muscle is the greatest of all time, certainly when considering the handling dynamics match the heady horsepower.

    Of course, the price for all of this muscular marvelousness, while relatively cheap compared with similarly powerful coupes from Asia and Europe, still runs around $40 large when optioned up. So if you're one who associates musclecar with affordable, then you're out of luck. Fortunately, there's an offshoot of the musclecar available today that can burn gobs of rubber without burning wads of cash. These coupes retain the requisite front-engine, rear-drive layout but ditch V-8s in favor of advanced, high-revving V-6s, a move that drops bottom lines to around $25,000 to start. And, when applicable, these six-cylinder, four-seat coupes sport styling that mimics that of their V-8 brethren, so their facades still scream bulging bicep. Let's dub them "hustlecars."

    ySurveying today's offerings, we found four such machines: the 2011 Ford Mustang V-6, armed with a fresh 305-horse engine and GT suspension; the retro-chic Chevy Camaro RS, boasting 20-inch wheels and 304 direct-injected ponies; the 250-horse cruise-ship Dodge Challenger SE, arguably the finest modern interpretation of a classic forebear; and the wildcard Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8, a low-slung South Korean whose 306 horsepower trumps that of its three American foes.

    Which one hustled its way to victory?

    PENTASTAR V6, WHERE ARE YOU?

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    With its undesirable combination of biggest body, heaviest curb weight, and wimpiest powerplant, the Challenger performed as expected -- in last place. From drag-strip dashes (0-60 in 7.5, quarter mile in 15.7 at 89.6) and braking (60-0 in 136 feet) to lateral acceleration (0.83 g) and figure eight (27.4 at 0.61 g), it delivered back-of-the-pack results. Sporty? Not exactly. Further, any behind-the-wheel sensations bordering on sportiness were conspicuously absent. "Feels languid and lazy, like a limo compared to the others," says executive editor Edward Loh. In a competitive set in which the closest rivals scooted to 60 in 1.8 fewer seconds, circled the skid pad with 0.08 g of extra fervor, and halted from 60 in 25 less feet, the Dodge came across as a wounded cod amongst a trio of frenzied tuna.

    Niggles aside, we'd be remiss not to point out the Challenger traits we liked. For starters, the ride was deemed plush and heavenly. "By far the best of the bunch, making this one the choice for long-haul cruises," says editor at large Arthur St. Antoine. The 3.5-liter V-6, despite being low on oomph, proved refined and euphonious. "At the top of the rev range this 3.5 sounds good and is way smoother than the Camaro's -- at least nothing vibrates or rattles," notes technical director Frank Markus. Moreover, cargo volume was the most cavernous, the back seat boasted the biggest dimensions, and the styling was admired for its classic authenticity. "This Challenger, with a whole lot of retro, looks the part," says associate Web editor Nate Martinez.

    Perhaps too retro, though, was the powertrain. While smooth and symphonic, the 250-horse SOHC V-6 paled next to the others' 300-plus-horse ratings. And the five-speed auto, by today's standards, was missing at least one cog (and don't get us started on the Challenger's unavailability of a manual tranny). Dodge, no doubt, will be blessing the Challenger SE in the coming months with its all-new Pentastar V-6, a DOHC 3.6-liter mill that uses twin independent cam timing to help achieve over 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. If only it had landed earlier.

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    LOOKING LIGHT, FEELING HEAVY

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    Tipping the scales with 3794 pounds, just 40 shy of the 7.3-inch-longer and 2.9-inch-taller Challenger, our Camaro RS tester seemed, well, unnecessarily portly. Why should a noticeably tidier coupe weigh barely less than a hulking one? And why do the Mustang and Genesis dent the dirt with at least 318 fewer pounds? Our thoughts exactly.

    As it were, the Chevy's heft did little to aid acceleration. While quick, at 5.7 seconds to 60 and 14.3 at 98.9 mph through the quarter mile, the Camaro stopped the clock long after the Ford. GM's high-tech direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 makes a healthy 304 horsepower -- right there with Mustang's 305 -- but when saddled with nearly 3800 pounds, its health quickly deteriorates. "The V-6 excites some trim in the back at certain rpm, and you can feel vibration through the shifter, pedals, and floor at high revs-not too refined," observes Markus. Loh adds, "Engine has the grunt, but can feel sluggish at times."

    What the Camaro did possess, though, was grip. Sure, it displayed ample understeer at the limit -- per technical editor Kim Reynolds: "On the skid pad and figure eight, the car desired, nay, demanded, heavy understeer." -- but its sticky 0.91 g lateral acceleration, second-quickest 25.5-tick figure-eight time, and planted on-the-road feel made it a satisfying drive for 7/10ths carving. "Never fails to serve up a locked down ride," says Loh. "It really does feel like you're riding on some big, meaty tires all the time." An unwanted byproduct of those big 20-inch meats, however, was unpolished steering feel. "The steering occasionally feels kind of nervous, like there's unnatural gain a bit off center," says Markus.

    The Chevy's lack of consummate driver feel, at least in part, stemmed from the nonsensical steering wheel and shift knob as well as the compromised visibility. St. Antoine harps, "The shift knob itself is just silly-big; same for the steering wheel, which is a disaster, and really spoils the interaction with the Camaro." Reynolds adds, "It felt ridiculously claustrophobic with humongous A-pillars and utterly slit-like side windows."

    While the Camaro's windows won't be getting any bigger for 2011, its V-6 power rating will, swelling to 312. But the Camaro RS needs to drop some weight more than it needs a power bump.

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    DOWNSIZING = UPSIZING

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    To be fair, the 2010 Mustang's old 4.0-liter V-6 was just that -- old. With origins dating back more than 40 years, the 12-valve 210-horse iron-block anchor, um, engine, wasn't exactly the epitome of modern efficiency and progressive design. Conversely, the 2011's 3.7-liter-utilizing an aluminum block, twin independent variable cam timing, and four valves per cylinder-is everything the 4.0-liter isn't, and thus produces 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. The effects, we learned, were somewhat startling.

    At the drag strip, the Mustang chirped its Pirellis to a blistering 0-to-60 blast of 5.1 seconds and a scorching quarter-mile sprint of 13.7 at 102.0 mph, both quickest of the group and not that far off the numbers from last year's 4.6-liter V-8 GT. "The 3.7 liter growls at low rpm, then yells with a raspy tone. It's thoroughly powerful and sounds healthy," says Martinez. Equally new is the Mustang's six-speed manual, which delighted every editor with its fluid movement and pinpoint precision. "Shifter feels great -- the action is nice and crisp," claims Markus.

    Our red V-6 came equipped with the $1995 Performance Package (GT suspension and brakes, 19-inch wheels with summer Pirellis, front strut tower brace), a must-have option, in our opinion, and a steal at under two grand. Not only did the PP add-ons provide best-of-test lateral grip (0.96 g) and 60-0 braking (104 feet), but they also transformed what used to be a stylish rental car into an all-out performance coupe. "Handling is very impressive," says Loh. "This is a car you can have complete confidence in."

    Then there's the blowout pricing. Both the Mustang's base and as-tested prices were the bargains of the bunch. A 14-second, 0.96g car for $25,000? Awesome. Of course, with that budget bottom line comes a budget-conscious interior fitted with cloth seats and swarms of hard- and soft-touch black plastic. Want a richer ambiance? You'll need to write a $3700 check for the Premium Package.

    "Ford has pretty much nailed what the Mustang is supposed to be: light, fun, simple yet effective interior, lively powertrain, driving dynamics to please a real enthusiast-all at a bargain price," says St. Antoine. "Subject to driving the Genesis, Mustang looks tough to beat."

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    ORIGIN OF GREATNESS

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    But then St. Antoine drove the Genesis. After which, he had this to say: "Yeow! Really impressive, with quick turn-in, flat cornering, lots of grip, good balance. Have to rank it the best handler." He was not alone. Martinez says, "The 3.8-liter is the best sounding of the V-6 bunch. It's responsive and revs quickly." Loh sums up: "The Genesis feels milled from a solid billet of aluminum alloy. It has that feeling of lightness and stiffness that just makes everything else seem to work better -- from the way the steering feels to the way the chassis responds to bumps to the way the powertrain puts the power down. Sure, the Mustang may make the value proposition, but for the extra bit of dough, I'd rather have the Genesis. It's just more fun to drive." That, in a nutshell, was what pushed the Hyundai ahead of the new Ford.

    Compared to the three domestics, the Genesis offered the finest, most driver-focused sensations from behind the wheel. It was the only one that felt like a genuine sports car. While the views out of the Americans' windshields were obstructed with long, bulging hoods, the perspective from the Hyundai's seat presented nothing but the road ahead. Want to focus on that apex located at two o'clock? It's right there in plain sight, never hiding behind an enlarged concept-car fender. The Hyundai's seat position, too, felt lower to the ground, bringing you closer to the action, more in touch with the asphalt below. The steering, a wee bit artificial in feel for our taste, nonetheless proved linear and intuitive, and the Brembo brakes provided nothing but stout, fade-free stopping force.

    The Genesis talent show continued at the test track, where it put down a 0-to-60 sprint of 5.4 seconds and a quarter-mile run of 14.2 at 99.2 mph. Not as speedy as the slightly lighter Mustang but still blazing. Its handling and braking numbers -- 0.94 g lateral accel, 25.4 at 0.71 g figure eight, 111 feet from 60 to 0 -- were just as rousing, with the figure-eight time taking top honors. Overall, this 3.8 Track was the sweetest-handling Genesis Coupe we've ever tested, bettering previous bests of 0.92 g and 25.6 at 0.75 g. The secret? Part number 00118-2M001. Cost? Brace yourself -- 30 big ones. Okay, we're talking about port-installed camber bolts -- they're standard with the racy 2.0T R-Spec -- that increase front camber from 0.5 to 2.1 degrees. If you are wondering whether they're worth a nice steak dinner, then you should probably stop reading this.

    Now if you've stopped poring over this prose so you can head to your local Hyundai dealer, well, then we can't fault you. At $25,750 to start ($25,780 with the camber bolts, $31,280 with the bolts and Track Package), it's the hustlecar we'd buy.

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  2. Scottwax

    Scottwax Making detailing great again! Moderator

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    Damn, 13.7 @ 102 for a V6 Mustang? :bowdown:
     
  3. Mercennarius

    Mercennarius Ultra Member OT Supporter

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    Nice...
    V6 models of the Camaro/Mustang have really stepped it up this generation.
     
  4. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Well, that proves the Mustang is still the American sports car I'd buy, if I couldn't afford a Corvette. Sadly, GM has kind of a conflict of interest in that they don't want their budget stoplight-racer to outshine the company's flagship. The Genesis sounds damn nice though, and in person it looks a lot better than in photos; the front has kind of a breaking-wave look to it, which is appropriate given its intended use.

    That being said, I still love my RX-8 to pieces. Just today I was gunning it past a line of traffic and fumbled the 2-3 shift, revving the engine too high and dropping the clutch too hard, and I unintentionally got a nice SCREEE! as a reward (and a thump to the back of the head as punishment). No torque? My ass. Bitches just don't know how the engine works, that's all.
     
  5. Curren$y

    Curren$y New Member

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    :bigthumb:
     
  6. nofriends

    nofriends OT Supporter

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    Whats the curb weight on the Genisis?
     

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