Big developments, like electric vehicle plug-ins coming to market, tend to overshadow smaller technological advances in fuel efficiency. As the auto industry inches forward environmentally, some car buyers will take great leaps with an electric plug-in, but the majority can also feel good about subtler advances.
At the top of my list of simple-but-significant bits of technology is the real-time fuel economy monitor available on more and more models. Just knowing how you can save gas by driving less aggressively can improve fuel economy beyond EPA estimates.
On a recent test drive of the 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, a real time fuel economy gauge was not only included, it was displayed prominently on the center console. Promoted as a performance car, this kind of information was unexpected but very welcome.
The EPA estimated fuel economy for the Coupe was 17 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, not great but also not unexpected for a V6. My average fuel economy, from city driving exclusively, came in at 22.7 mpg.
Hyundai is batting a thousand these days with double-digit increased sales from last year, much of this due to a new lineup of cars that pack a lot of stuff onto an affordable price tag.
The rear-wheel drive sport coupe can be equipped with two performance-focused engines, a 210-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an all-aluminum, 306-horsepower, DOHC 3.8-liter V6 engine, which is what I drove.
Accented by a hearty engine rumble, the V6 delivers 306-horsepower and 266 lbs.-ft. of torque on regular unleaded. It accelerates the Coupe from zero-to-60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds.
Other fuel saving technology includes Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing and a new Variable Intake System that helps cylinders breathe more efficiently at both low and high RPM.
Both engines are mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission, and luckily, that’s the transmission I drove. For fans of paddle shifters, optional transmissions include a five-speed automatic with Shiftronic simulated manual shifting on the four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic for the V6.
In typical Hyundai style, the Coupe comes with a long list of safety features, like driver and front passenger advanced frontal airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, side air curtains, and active front head restraints. All Genesis Coupe models feature standard four-channel anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist to optimize brake performance. A proven lifesaver, Electronic Stability Control is also standard.
Creature comforts include leather heated front seats, a sunroof, an AM/FM stereo with XM Satellite radio, MP3 capability, a CD player, the ten-speaker Infinity audio system, and steering wheel controls. Bluetooth hands-free phone system and a proximity key with a button start are also included.
Pricing for the 2011 four-cylinder turbo Genesis Coupe starts at $22,250. The price, as tested with the V6 (carpeted floor mats and a iPod cable were the only extras), came to $31,690.
The Genesis Coupe hopes to capitalize on the critical acclaim of its four-door sibling. Blessed by the same sharp exterior design, the smaller, sportier package further enhances the Coupe’s appeal, plus the real-time fuel economy gauge helps maximize fuel efficiency.