The Affordable V6 Sports Coupe Shootout
by David Pratte
If you’re in the market for a rear-wheel drive V6-powered sports coupe that won’t break the bank while allowing you to get your track-day jollies on the weekends, chances are you’re going to end up in the exact same predicament we did. Tasty German options like BMW’s 1M are just too spendy for our “average Joe” $30k-or-so budget, and the requirement for at least a semi-usable backseat ruled out potentially attractive Japanese options like the Nissan 370Z.
This left us with two legit V6 track-day coupes to pit against each other in another of our classic head-to-head battles. Up first is Hyundai
’s recently refreshed Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track model with all the R-Spec goodies ranging from a track-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, a Torsen limited-slip differential and 19-inch wheels with sticky performance tires. And the contender is Ford
’s newly released Performance Package equipped Mustang V6 Premium, which for an extra $1,995 comes complete with a larger front sway bar, SVT rear sway bar, stiffer springs, unique brakes with upgraded pads, a 3.31 rear axle and 19-inch wheels with Pirelli summer tires.
This comparo was made all the more intriguing by the fact that these two machines are at opposite ends of the spectrum with respect to styling, the Genesis being an entirely modern take on the sports coupe, while the Mustang’s retro sheet metal is designed to tug at the heart strings and high school fantasies of the midlife crisis crowd (and anyone else with a Pony car fetish).
THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT
Regardless of their opposing design philosophies, both are equipped with high-output naturally aspirated V6 engines and 6-speed manual gearboxes, tip the scales at around 3500 lbs, and are packaged with firmer suspensions, bigger brakes and stickier tires so that you can literally drive them off the showroom floor and onto the race track. And that’s exactly what we’ve done (ok, we borrowed them rather than buying them, but you get the picture).
We didn’t drive them onto just any race track, either. We headed to Mosport International Raceway (recently renamed Canadian Tire Motorsports Park), one of the fastest and most daunting road courses on North American soil. With the cup holders emptied and the camera crew in place, it was time for Editor-in-Chief Colum Wood
and I to man up, because turning hot enough laps around this circuit to properly evaluate these two very capable track-day specials was going to take equal parts focus and commitment.