The Hyundai Genesis sedan has been around since 2009, but here at The Garage the Genesis we were most interested was always the Coupe. We applauded Hyundai for expanding its line, and having the guts to go out and build a large, rear wheel drive luxury sedan, but for power-hungry enthusiasts, the Genesis sedan had little to offer. That changed in the Fall of 2011, when Hyundai quietly announced the addition of the range-topping Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. The name itself suggests something deadly serious, and it was time for The Garage to get behind the wheel for some serious seat time. As this was our first time with a Genesis sedan, our question was twofold: one, can Hyundai convincingly pull off a luxury sedan, and two, an interesting high performance luxury sedan to entertain a car guy? Read on….
For starters, the Genesis is one handsome looking car. For a large sedan, it is perfectly proportioned, and there simply isn’t a bad line on the car. The combination of the Black Noir Pearl exterior color and R-Spec specific 19″ wheels conspired to an elegant but sinister exterior. What struck me more about the pleasing styling was the reactions heard and overheard about the Genesis. One day I parked the car in front of the finest Tex-Mex restaurant in town, and I could hear a group of guys at the table behind me talk about it. One fellow thought it was an Infiniti, until another corrected him and said it was a Hyundai ‘but they decided to have no logo on the front end of the car.” Other reactions were shock that it was, in fact, a Hyundai, how bad-ass it looked, and one onlooker simply saw the 5.0 badge on the rear decklid and he knew this car was not to be messed with. In sum, we all agreed the Genesis looks good, especially our 5.0 R-Spec, but it does lack its own distinct personality.
Regulars here at The Garage will know Hyundai is perfectly capable of building comfortable, competent interiors, but we’re not talking compact cars here. From a style point of view, the Genesis takes fewer risks than say, a Sonata, but that is less likely about Hyundai and more about the buyer they are seeking. The Genesis offers a roomy and comfortable cabin. Though feature-laden, controls are simple and intuitive to use, never overwhelming. Construction and quality of materials are very good, but the quality of the leather didn’t seem quite as good as my personal favorite, Lexus. The Genesis lacked nothing for features, but at no time did I ever feel like I was at the wheel of a truly special automobile. And apart from embroidered floor mats, Hyundai has done nothing to separate the 5.0 R-Spec’s cabin from its lesser siblings. So yes, Hyundai can certainly pull off a luxurious interior, it just doesn’t leave much of an impression.
Where things do start to get interesting is under the hood. The heart of the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec is a, you guessed it, 5.0L direct injected V-8 belting out an astonishing 429hp powering the rear wheels. Amen. All that power meets those wheels via an all-new eight-speed automatic, which will be featured in all Genesis sedans. And yes, I take delight the Genesis is more powerful than a Camaro SS with its 6.2L of displacement. Yet the R-Spec is a model of refinement. You really need to get your foot in it to finally hear that V-8 soundtrack-otherwise the car is stone silent. Hyundai claims the R-Spec will do 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds, and I believe them. The car pulls like a freight train, never runs out of steam, and does so with no drama whatsoever. You’d think Hyundai’s been building this type of car for a couple decades, not their first time around. While some critics complained about a harsh ride on the R-Spec, I disagree. Sachs shock absorbers and a sport tuned suspension are R-Spec specific, but did nothing to take away from the ride quality, while still providing decent handling for such a vehicle.
So, what does all this power and luxury cost? For what you get, not a heck of a lot. Consider the standard equipment list: rain sensing wipers, auto de-fogging windshield, front and rear heated seats, cooled driver’s seat, navigation, leather-wrapped seats, dash, and door inserts, smart cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, adaptive xenon cornering headlights, a stunning 17 speaker Lexicon stereo with HD Radio, XM Radio and XMTraffic. Price, you ask? $46,500USD. And yes, that includes the 429hp V-8. In fact, the R-Spec comes standard with so much there really aren’t any options, apart from dealer installed accessories or summer performance tires. No, it is not cheap, but just try to get a premium Japanese or German car that compares to the R-Spec’s, um, specs with those features and the difference is over five figures.
As little as five years ago, if I told you Hyundai would be building a car like this, you’d call me criminally insane. I would have too, for that matter. But the reality is this is 2012 and Hyundai, on their very first try, has brought to market a superb and utterly competent luxury rear wheel drive automobile. What is shocking is the amount of power, features and refinement The R-Spec offers for the asking price. It’s simply staggering. Sure, some of you may dismiss this car simply because it is a Hyundai, but know this. The R-Spec is a howitzer aimed directly at the Infiniti M-Class. And Infiniti has been building rear-drive luxury sedans for over 20 years. Hyundai has already mastered the basics of the recipe, and I’ve no doubt it will soon find that elusive special touch to set it apart from the pack.