For the 2013 model year, the Hyundai Genesis trims back its offerings from three to two. The mid-line 4.6-liter V-8 is history; left behind are a capable V-6 that pits itself directly against the likes of Chrysler's 300, and a heady V-8-powered Genesis R-Spec that's ultimately unsatisfying as a first parry at Germany's super sedans.
The Genesis is considerably more plush than its competition, even than the Lexus ES and Chrysler 300 that it lines up against most directly in price. Plush does not mean slow, however. Last year, Hyundai uprated the 3.8-liter V-6 in the Genesis to333 horsepower, added direct fuel injection, and coupled it to a new eight-speed automatic designed in-house. Acceleration is vivid, and the automatic works well even when it's not in sport-shift mode--though we'd prefer shift paddles with a drivetrain that has this much force. Its 0-60 mph times estimated at 6.0 seconds, the Genesis 3.8 tops oat 130 mph, and makes happy, growling V-6 noises throughout most of its powerband.
The plushness lies underneath the powertrain cradle, where an independent suspension with multiple links made out of aluminum has all the right essentials for light, deft handling. In the base car, it's tuned instead for cushy, almost floaty responses. What's missing is the crisp steering response and the taut ride quality that "rear-wheel drive" brings to mind: you think Mercedes-Benz or BMW or even Cadillac, and instead, the Genesis delivers a compliant, extremely smooth ride and very low levels of cabin noise.
The R-Spec edition firms up the Genesis' handling, and attempts to transform it into a serious piece of performance hardware. New for 2012, the R-Spec gets its motivation from an uprated 5.0-liter version of the now-pruned 4.6-liter V-8. With 429 horsepower and the same automatic transmission, the R-Spec has a promised 0-60 mph time of under 5.0 seconds. Along with some cosmetic touches, it also comes with stiffer anti-roll bars, bigger 19-inch wheels and tires, and a quicker steering ratio. The tighter feel isn't a net improvement: the Genesis R-Spec feels overdamped, with sharp responses to bumps that get filtered out in the other models. It's also fitted with seats that feel like they've been softened to mute the effects of the R-Spec package. Shoppers who want the exclusivity of the R-Spec package and the new engine won't pay much more for them--only a few thousand dollars--but we think most Genesis buyers will be happier with the V-6 model and its softer setup.