2012 Hyundai Genesis Sedan: Review
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Three years ago, Hyundai released its first luxury sport sedan, the Genesis. It was a bold move upmarket for the Korean automaker, but it was just the first step. Since then, Hyundai has continued to raise its profile with a more refined Sonata and the Equus, a luxo-cruiser challenger for the Lexus LS. Suddenly, the Genesis doesn't seem like such an anomaly.
For 2012, the company is giving the Genesis a midcycle update, as well as adding a whole new model, the 5.0 R-Spec, an even sportier version of the popular 4-door sedan. It boasts more power and a more aggressive look. But does it compare to the more established European competition?
The $44,500 4.6 and $46,500 5.0 R-Spec have loads of luxury amenities, including all of the equipment found in the 3.8's optional Technology and Convenience packages. These features include a leather-wrapped dash, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power rear sunshade, sunroof, cooled driver's seat, heated rear seats, 17-speaker 7.1 surround sound Lexicon audio system, HD radio, navigation system, lane-departure warning, HID adaptive headlights, front and rear park assist, and adaptive cruise control. The 4.6 also gets auto-dimming outside mirrors, a wood and leather steering wheel, and P235/50R18 tires, while the 5.0 R-Spec adds a sport-tuned suspension and P235/45R19 tires. The 4.6 and 5.0 R-Spec offer no options.
Standard safety equipment consists of dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, rear side airbags, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, traction control, and electronic stability control.
Under the Hood
The lone transmission is the new 8-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual-shift capability. Designed in-house, it has two overdrive gears, which helps fuel economy considerably. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 19 mpg city/29 highway for the V6, 17/26 mpg for the 4.6 and 16/25 mpg for the 5.0.
Interior space is very good. Front seat headroom and legroom are plentiful, but not all drivers will find an ideal seating position because the seats adjust only eight ways. Given the equipment level of the rest of the car, we'd expect more seat controls and a greater range of motion for some of the adjustments. Rear legroom is also plentiful, but tall passengers might want more headroom.
Hyundai provides decent small-items storage, but we'd like an open tray at the base of the center console for keys, cell phones and other bits. The trunk is deep, with a generous 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room. It comes with a rear pass-through to allow long items to fit, but the lack of folding rear seats might be a deal-breaker for some families.
When equipped with the navigation system, the Genesis has a central rotating control knob along the lines of BMW's iDrive. In addition to the navigation system, it controls the radio, iPod interface, trip computer, Bluetooth phone, and vehicle settings. Hyundai provides six buttons around the knob that help drivers get to the various functions quicker. These buttons are a good idea, and they're also used in the latest versions of the BMW and Mercedes-Benz central control systems. Hyundai's version works well but it can still complicate some controls.
On the Road
The 4.6-liter V8 engine has gobs of power from a stop, responsive midrange punch, and plenty of reserve when that extra bit is needed to get around traffic on the highway. Zero to 60 mph is in the mid-five-second range, which is darn quick.
The big news for 2012 is the addition of the 5.0 R-Spec and its 5.0-liter 429-horsepower V8. The 5.0 provides that much more punch, propelling the car from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. That's muscle-car territory, which is impressive for a 4,100-pound car. The feel is very much the same as the 4.6 at lower speeds, but the 5.0 provides more punch at higher revs and higher speeds.
We found the 8-speed automatic transmission works quite well for normal driving, shifting smoothly and downshifting far enough to make passing a worry-free experience. It lacks a sport mode, though, and it isn't that responsive during aggressive driving; it always seems to be in too high of a gear to provide ultimate power coming out of turns. The Genesis likely won't be driven in that manner very often, but we would expect a sport mode or at least sportier programming in an R-Spec model. Like the other models, the R-Spec also lacks steering-wheel shift paddles, another sporty touch we would expect.
When the Genesis was launched, Hyundai said it had benchmarked such vehicles such as the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class for ride and handling. Both of those cars have since been redesigned, so the comparison doesn't really hold, but it still indicates how high Hyundai was shooting.
With advanced 5-link front and rear suspensions and a rigid rear-drive unibody structure, the Genesis has the hardware to play with the big boys. On a twisty road, the Genesis is quite capable, offering a nice balance of luxury and sportiness. The spring rates are firmer and there is a larger rear stabilizer bar this year. Those changes help control the ride a little more, limiting some of the up-and-down motions the previous car suffered from on rippled pavement. Base models are still no match for a BMW 5-Series, with slower steering and more body lean.
The R-Spec isn't much sportier. It has 19-inch wheels, a thicker rear stabilizer bar, and more advanced shocks, but the changes are hardly noticeable. The shocks settle the ride a little more while adding a touch of responsiveness. Still, a car with a name like R-Spec should be sharper than this.
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