2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-SPEC: Korean Performance

Hyundai Genesis

What do we know about the Hyundai Genesis? For one, it’s the Korean automaker’s mid-luxury sports sedan, which entered the automotive draft in 2008 as a 2009 model. We also know that Hyundai has positioned it against premium models such as the BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Infiniti M. In fact, it’s the leapfrog model into the company’s top-of-the line Equus. The Genesis is so good that it has experienced a sales increase for 23 straight months. And if mid-luxury sales continue to rebound through 2013 as Hyundai predicts, then expect to see more of the sporty newcomer from the Far East.

For 2012, Hyundai has refreshed the Genesis with a few enhancements and improvements while adding a new edition: the 5.0 R-SPEC. Early adopters to Hyundai’s new revolution now have a choice between the 3.6-liter V6 (333 horsepower), the 4.8-liter V8 (385 horsepower using premium fuel) and now the upper echelon 5.0-liter V8 with 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque of which 300 or so is available at 1,500 rpm. Its 0-60 mph time is rated at 5.1 seconds. With fuel saving technology normally reserved for German elites, both the 3.6 and 5.0 gasoline engines are outfitted with direct injection and a new, in-house built 8-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic. Of course with more gears a vehicle will ride smoother, increase fuel economy and reduce powertrain friction.

Externally, the Genesis is pleasantly styled. It won’t over exaggerate energetic connections between human vision and emotional response. Yet, it fares pretty well when you add in secondary models Hyundai is targeting including the Lexus ES350, Lincoln MKS, Cadillac CTS and Chrysler 300. I would even add the Infiniti M and Lexus GS to this group because they stand out in a parking lot no more than your typical race fan at the Indy 500. Interestingly enough, after posting a photo of the Genesis 5.0 R-SPEC the on Automotive Rhythms’ Facebook fan page we received a number of comments outlining where it fits in the grand scheme of things:

  • Hope its gives them some competition, if Toyota can do it, why can’t Hyundai?
  • It’s a Hyundai …
  • This walks in the shadows of the cars u listed…NO CONTEST!!!
  • Will sell…in small numbers.
  • I believe if it were a battle of engines alone, the Hyundai V8 stands a great chance against the listed champions. In a couple of years, definitely a big yes. Kudos Hyundai for the effort.

As they say in politics, everyone has an opinion — which of course should be respected. Consumers are who Hyundai needs to convince. Not the automotive media because we evaluate these vehicles as well as their competitors and understand the great achievements and progress Hyundai has made. Don’t get me wrong. A BMW and Mercedes loyalist is not going to be persuaded from their German heritage for a Korean newbie. Not now at least. But for the others, they should be pretty worried. Here is how we countered the Facebook dialogue:

Although the Genesis is not a 5 Series, nor the Equus an S-Class, they both started their careers with positivity and allure. The Genesis took home the North American Car of the year in 2009. This is an award from 50 of the top automotive journalists nationwide. And keep in mind, every luxury maker started from somewhere. The Koreans have already replaced many traditional brands for top notch positions. Step out of the box with your auto knowledge, run the numbers and then comment again.

The 2012 Genesis received a few adjustments to its wardrobe including revisions to the grille, bumper and rocker panels, headlights with LED accents, chrome trim, bumper embedded dual exhausts and bigger 17” and 19” rims which resemble multi-leaf clovers.

We experienced the new Genesis on a hot 108 degree afternoon in the canyons of Nevada outside of Las Vegas. Of course the resplendent Korean interiors became our best friend as we bonded a little bit more than usual to escape the heat. The 5.0 R-SPEC was our vehicle of choice for most of the trip. Its V8 is quite a bit of fun and unnoticeably paced us at 80 mph plus speeds without any heavy pedal pressure. Rear legroom is adequate as well; certainly more than what is offered in the 5 Series. R-SPEC is Hyundai’s internal custom outfitting unit. Think of Cadillac’s V-Series or Mercedes’s AMG team. In addition to the 5.0-liter V8, Hyundai also offers 19” rims, a sports suspension, steering and transmission; and replaces the wood grain steering with full leather. I especially liked our Black Noir Pearl R-Spec model. It was indeed impressive.

My drive partner and I enjoyed the modern technology of hallmark European vehicles. Elements like a driver info center with a rotary dial to control the 8” display, lane departure warning system, power folding mirrors, adaptive auto cornering lights, cooled and heated front seats, heated rear seats, a premium audio system by Lexicon, and eight airbags. Add in Hyundai’s magnificent 10-year/100,000-powertrain warranty and you have found yourself a true diamond. The 3.8 starts at $32,200 while the 5.0 R-SPEC gets going at $46,500.


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