2012 Hyundai Genesis
Date Posted: June 30, 2011
By Zack Spencer
The first Hyundai Genesis won many awards and for 2012 it receives major updates
When the Hyundai Genesis was introduced in 2009 it was a radical departure from Hyundai's modest roots as a value brand. The idea of selling a luxury sedan to compete with established vehicles like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class seemed like a foolhardy attempt to bring their brand upscale. Hyundai's first luxury attempt was anything but foolhardy as the Genesis went on to win dozens of awards including Canadian and North American Car of the Year. Building a well-respected luxury car might not bring huge sales volume into Hyundai dealerships but by showing the world what Hyundai is capable of building has helped to move their less expensive models. For 2012 Hyundai has taken an already capable car and improved several areas including a sporting element to their design.
The original Genesis received many awards but they were for the build quality, drive and packaging, not exterior styling. From certain angles the outside looked like a Mercedes and from others a BMW or Honda. For 2012 Hyundai has removed this hodgepodge approach and smoothed out the design, making it more cohesive and appealing. Style sells. To be fair to Mercedes, there is more than a passing resemblance to the last generation S-Class. All models receive new headlights with LED accents, a bigger grille opening, a new front bumper with chrome trim along with thicker rocker panels, brighter side window trim, new wheel designs, improved rear taillights, bumper and exhaust tips around back. The V8 model is called R-Spec, which receives a few extra tweaks including tasty looking 19-inch wheels.
I'm always impressed when car companies can see spot a good design and stick with it, resisting the urge to update a design for change sake. Hyundai left well enough alone. The Genesis interior is remarkable for a few reasons. First, the attention to detail-- the way each panel and component fits together is as good as any luxury brand on the market and closely follows the standard set by Lexus. The second is the fact that this is a luxury car and it fulfills that roll with ease. The seats, the materials and quiet interior feel luxurious and inviting and make a long trip easy to handle. Updates are few on the inside but include heated rear seats and R-Spec logos on the floor mats. Bringing the Genesis up to date in terms of convenience and safety features include a lane departure warning system and a new LCD instrument cluster.
The biggest changes have been kept for the engines, transmission and suspension. The 3.8L engine found in the base model receives a 43hp bump to 333hp thanks to the addition of direct injection technology. The R-Spec trim gets a new direct injection 5.0L engine with 429hp (up from 385 hp) and improved torque at lower RPM's. This engine was just named one of ''Wards 10 Best Engines'' for 2011. The base V6 model is an excellent combination of power, comfort and handing thanks to minor suspension adjustments. 333hp is more power than V8 engines produced just 10 years ago. The R-Spec is the performance and handling model thanks to a suspension overhaul that includes stiffer sway bars, shocks and springs. Over rough roads the ride can be choppy but on the open highway but this model is very connected to the road. Both receive a new 8-speed automatic that works spectacularly in terms of drivability and efficiency.
The idea of producing a high-end luxury sedan by a brand associated with value was a big risk and one that has paid off. Hyundai has proven that they can make a high quality sedan capable of taking on the best and doing it at a price that is more accessible. The very capable V6 starts at $39,999 and tops out at just under $50,000. The R-Spec starts at $53,499 and is fully equipped. Having a chance to drive both the V6 and R-Spec at their official launch in Las Vegas, the star in terms of power and handling might be the V8 model but I preferred the more sophisticated feeling V6 with ample power and a good balance of road manors and luxury. The Genesis is no longer Hyundai's top model-- that honour goes to the new full-sized Equus. I can't wait to drive that model, it looks first rate and I'm sure it delivers the goods, just like this new Genesis.
The Good, The Bad
The introduction of direct injection technology and a new 8-speed automatic improve fuel consumption.
The smoother suspension found on the base model is not offered with the V8.
Power: 333hp 3.8L V6 and 429hp 5.0L V8
Fill-up: 11.3L/6.9L/100km (city/highway V6)
Sticker price: $39.999-$53,499