When Hyundai first launched their Genesis sedan in the U.S. in 2008, a lot of critics scoffed. Common wisdom said that Hyundai built economy cars, and that no one would take a luxury sedan from the Korean manufacturer seriously.
Fast-forward just three years, and it’s clear that Hyundai can compete in the luxury sedan segment. Sales of the Genesis grew 33 percent from 2009 to 2010, and Hyundai has quickly taken a five percent share of the U.S. luxury car market with their flagship Equus.
It should surprise no on that Hyundai is expanding the Genesis sedan model range for 2012, and it now includes a legitimate sport-sedan contender.
For 2012, the entry-level Genesis 3.8 sedan gets a starting price of $34,200, and comes with a 3.8-liter, gasoline-direct-injection engine good for 333 horsepower and 291 foot pounds of torque. That’s a significant improvement from the 290 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque that the 3.8-liter engine made last year, yet fuel economy is increased some seven percent for 2012 (from 27 mpg highway to 29 mpg highway). Handling is improved on 3.8-liter models as well, and Hyundai reports that body roll has been reduced while suspension damping has been recalibrated. The Genesis 3.8 gets bigger front brakes as well, going from 12.6-inch rotors to 13-inch rotors.
The 2012 Genesis 4.6 soldiers on with the same 4.6-liter V-8 as last year, but gets the same suspension improvements as the Genesis 3.8. The 4.6 gets bigger front brakes as well, but rotor size is increased from 13.0 to 13.6 inches. Starting price for the 2012 Genesis 4.6 is $44,500.
The new member of the Genesis sedan family is the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. Fitted with Hyundai’s new Tau V-8 engine, the R-Spec is good for 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, yet returns fuel economy just shy of the Genesis 4.6 (which gets 26 mpg highway, versus the R-Spec’s 25 mpg highway). The R-Spec package also includes 19-inch machined-finish wheels, optional summer-only performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension and recalibrated steering. The 2012 Genesis 5.0 R-Spec has a starting price of $46,500; sadly, a manual transmission is not available.
All Genesis sedan models comes with Hyundai’s new eight-speed automatic transmission, which includes manual shift capabilities across the product range. Hyundai claims the new gearbox is six percent more efficient than last year’s six-speed automatic, and points out that they’re the first non-luxury manufacturer to launch an eight-speed transmission.