In the beginning, there was Genesis. Drivers saw that it was good, so for 2012 Hyundai gave Genesis the most powerful engine Hyundai has ever made. The new Tau V-8 engine in the Genesis R-Spec model blasts out 429 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque, and has again been named to Ward’s Ten Best Engines list. Put that engine into a car that is already turning heads for its upscale yet affordable luxury, and this is a dog that will hunt.
While the regular Genesis has a choice of two engines – a 3.8-liter V-6 and a 4.6-liter V-8 – the 5.0-liter V-8 in the R-Spec is the one we were lucky enough to test recently. With interstate traffic being what it is in Baton Rouge, we didn’t have a chance to test the limits of the new V-8, but it took only 5.3 seconds to get to 60 miles per hour from a standstill on the Edmunds.com test track. And thanks partly to a new 8-speed automatic transmission, the R-Spec gets a fairly respectable 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the road.
Hyundai also changed the look of the Genesis for 2012, giving it an enhanced grille, a more aggressive front fascia with bigger air intakes and redesigned headlights with LED accents, but I’m still thinking there could be more. It’s a nice-enough looking car, but it doesn’t have the “Wow” factor design, like on the Sonata for example. The 19-inch alloy wheels on the RSpec are terrific and the front end has been improved, but the rest of the exterior seems understated. The vehicle could use some sharper lines or at least more dangerous curves, and dang Hyundai, add some badging to the grille of this car so the man on the street will know its coming. You can spot a Lexus a mile away, but with the Genesis you have to look twice.
Inside, Genesis has all the features you’d expect, and then some. To wit: 8-way heated and cooled driver’s seat with power lumbar, 4-way heated passenger’s seat, heated rear seats, dual automatic climate control, pushbutton start with smart key entrance, a power tilt and slide sunroof (optional on the 3.8-liter model), and an integrated memory system for the driver’s seat, mirror and steering wheel. And when some inconsiderate driver comes up behind you oblivious to his high-beams burning holes in your corneas, push a button and a power rear sunshade will rise from the back dash and take care of that issue. The Genesis R-Spec has standard HID Xenon cornering headlights, so you can let the inconsiderate driver pass and then get behind him.
With eight gears in the new automatic transmission, acceleration is smooth, linear and whisper quiet. Even though the Tau V-8 is spitting out nearly 430 horses, the Genesis is quiet as a church mouse while it pours on the power. Lots of European and Asian vehicles do likewise, but they don’t do it for $46,500, which is the Genesis R-Spec’s base price.
The 2012 Genesis hasn’t been safety tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the 2011 model was an IIHS “Top Safety Pick.” Active and passive safety technology includes new daytime running lamps standard, and an optional lane departure warning system on selected models. All models have eight airbags, including front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side curtains for all passengers.
The Genesis R-Spec has a sport-tuned suspension to keep up with its power, and the system delivers a firm, stable ride. Rear stabilizer bars are larger, helping with body roll control. Steering is precise and braking is amplified thanks to larger rotors in front (from 13-inches to 13.6-inches).