For 2012, the Genesis gets a mild facelift, but remains an attractive sedan with a choice of three engines instead of the V-6 and V-8 originally offered. Now there’s a more powerful 3.8-liter V-6 and the 4.6-liter V-8 gets tweaked to improve power and efficiency.
The big news for 2012 is the all-new Tau 5.0-liter V-8 with 429 hp and 376 lb.-ft. of torque. Exclusive to the 5.0 R-Spec model, this new V-8 represents the most powerful Hyundai engine ever.
Compared to the 4.6-liter V-8, the 5.0-liter cylinder bore is slightly larger, the compression ratio has increased from 10.4 to 11.5:1 and direct injection technology was added. Direct injection, combined with either a turbocharger, or a higher compression ratio has become a popular means of increasing power and lowering fuel consumption.
This new V8 offers all of the premium features of the 4.6-liter V8, including continuously variable valve timing, a tuned variable induction system, and low-friction coatings on piston skirts, rings and tappets. Even with its increased power, fuel economy is 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, nearly matching the 4.6-liter V8 (17 mpg city/26 mpg highway). During a week of driving in a mix of traffic situations, we managed to get over 25 mpg.
The new V8 is coupled to the first eight-speed transmission offered by a non-luxury branded manufacturer. The addition of two additional gear ratios enhances acceleration and shifting smoothness. All eight-speed transmissions include manual shift capability.
The R-Spec also includes more aggressive chassis tuning, with larger rear stabilizer bars, 19-inch alloy wheels and optional Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position tires. Steering calibration has been matched to the wheel and tire combination and front brake rotors have increased from 13.0 inches to 13.6 inches over the 2011 4.6 model.
For quick recognition, the R-Spec model has unique headlights with dark chrome inserts. An R-Spec trim designation badge has been added to the rear deck, along with black R-Spec embroidered floor mats. During our week of test-driving, we found the R-Spec to be a real head-turner, with lots of thumbs-up and beep-beeps from the many who noticed it.
Genesis R-Spec is offered in just three sport-oriented exterior colors: Black Noir, Titanium Gray, and Platinum Metallic, each with Black leather interior and an all-black leather steering wheel for a differentiated sport appearance from the 4.6 model.
The leather seats look good and feel good with plenty of support. The optional leather-wrapped dash projects an upscale feel to the entire cabin. There’s plenty of legroom, and headroom, both front and rear. At 15.9 cubic feet, the trunk is ideally configured for carrying golf clubs, but we managed to carry a mobility scooter instead.
The rear seats can be separated with a fold down armrest that contains cup holders and the controls for the seat heaters. We found it too easy to unintentionally turn on the heaters by resting an elbow right where those controls are located.
The R-Spec is the hot rod of the family, but out on the road, it offers a few surprises. We were expecting a hard ride and less than gentle powertrain performance. Instead, the ride with the 19-inch tires was remarkably comfortable and the engine/transmission combination delivered a smooth run through all eight gears, even during hard acceleration. A sprint from 0 to 60 mph takes only 5 quiet seconds.
The most noticeable difference in the R-Spec is better handling and instantaneous throttle response. Even so, this is a big car, and you have to keep that in mind on twisty, hilly roads.
Genesis has a full array of state-of-the-art active and passive safety features, including electronic stability control (ESC), eight airbags and electronic active head restraints. For 2012, Genesis adds daytime running lights to all models and offers a newly-developed lane departure warning system.
The array of airbags includes advanced dual front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and roof-mounted side curtain airbags for both front and rear outboard seat occupants.
A total of eight ultrasonic sensors located on the front and rear bumpers help detect how close objects are when parking. Distance is indicated on the in-dash screen and accompanied by an audible warning tone.
The $46,500 Genesis 5.0 R-Spec standard equipment includes 17-speaker 7.1 Lexicon® discrete audio system with HD Radio®, 6-disc in-dash DVD changer, ultimate navigation system with 8-inch display, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), TFT LCD cluster display, Driver Information System (DIS) with multimedia controller, HID and adaptive (auto-cornering) headlights, front and rear parking assistance sensors, Bluetooth hands-free phone system with integrated display, smart cruise control, electric parking brake with auto hold, heated rear seats with console control, ultra-premium leather seating surfaces and cooled driver seat
The lineup of cars and crossovers from Hyundai is impressive, with many leading their segments, but Genesis has to compete in a crowded upscale market segment. Many buyers of upscale cars want everything the Genesis has, but they also want the status, or image of someone who can afford the best. It takes a while to build a reputation and get established in any upscale market, and Genesis is well on its way to doing just that. For now, Genesis will continue to appeal to those who recognize what it really has to offer.