Body style: full-size, 5-passenger, rear-drive sedan
Engine: aluminum, direct-injection dual DOHC 32-valve V8 with continuously variable valve timing
Horsepower: 429 at 6,400 rpm
Torque: 376 ft.-lb. at 5000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Shiftronic
0-60 mph: 5.1 secs.
EPA estimated fuel mileage: 16 mpg city, 25 hwy; premium fuel recommended, not required
Fuel tank capacity: 19.3 gallons
Standard equipment: navigation system; proximity key lock/unlock and push-button starting; Lexicon 17-speaker audio system. R-Spec features include unique headlights with dark chrome inserts and black R-Spec embroidered floor mats. Three paint colors: Black Noir, Titanium Gray and Platinum Metallic, each with black leather interior and an all-black leather steering wheel
Safety equipment: eight air bags; electronic, active front head restraints; electronic stability and traction controls; lane-departure warning system; 4-wheel-disc brakes with ABS; electronic brake-force distribution
Coefficient of drag: 0.27
Wheelbase/width/length: 115.5/74.4/196.3 in.
Turning circle: 36 ft.
Front head/leg/shoulder room: 40.4/44.3/58.3 in.
Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 37.7/38.6/54.3 in.
Curb weight: 4,046 lb.
Trunk capacity: 15.9 cu. ft.
Base price: $47,350, including $850 freight charge; price as tested: $47,385
Options on test car: iPod cable ($350)
Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain; 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance
Where assembled: Korea
The 429-hp Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec sedan is a halo model with global aspirations. It has a tuned suspension that feels like BMW; it has the commanding substance of Mercedes-Benz; it has the millimeter-tight assembly for which Lexus is known.
To these positive similarities, the Genesis adds a big, booming presence that’s unique to this car. It’s a collection of advanced Hyundai engineering of which only Genesis owners are aware. The 5.0 R-Spec is an engaging sport sedan but not a threat or comparison to cars from BMW M, Mercedes’ AMG or Audi’s S line.
You’ll like Hyundai’s sport treatment if you lease a sedan but want added style and performance without voiding the warranty.
And while the Hyundai Genesis may be the most unrecognized sedan on the highway, it is also the biggest full-size bargain, too. The Genesis line starts with the 333-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 and moves up to the 385-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 and on to the 5.0 R-Spec. Base pricing starts at $35,050, $45,350 and $47,350. The test car was $47,385, with just one option for a $35 iPod cable.
That additional $10,000 to $16,000 buys a badge of renown, when the Genesis doesn’t even have a badge in the grille. But what it does have, the owners will brag about.
R-Spec features include a navigation system; moonroof; proximity key lock/unlock and push-button starting; Lexicon 17-speaker audio system; headlights with dark chrome inserts; perforated heated and cooled front seats; heated rear seats; embroidered floor mats; a choice of three paint colors (Black Noir, Titanium Gray, and Platinum Metallic); black leather interior; and black leather, multifunction steering wheel.
Competitors such as the entry-level, six-cylinder versions of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5-Series have starting prices of $51,365 and $45,925, respectively.
The exterior styling is “traditional” and won’t offend, but the interior dimensions are excellent: Front headroom is a little more than 40 inches and front legroom is long at 44.3 inches. The raised back seats are richly comfortable and rear legroom is limo-like at 38.6 inches.
The interior is contemporary and upscale with no stodgy, dark wood trim. The R-Spec’s ultra-leather treatment is tender to the touch and as aromatic as a tack room of English saddles.
Sightlines are good even without the rearview camera and the advanced tech features assist without interfering: Lane departure warning, smart cruise control.
Slam the doors, rock the throttle and let the R-Spec’s 429 horses run. The response isn’t what you might expect of this Korean carmaker. The aluminum, 5.0-liter V-8 is highly engineered with direct injection and the other usual power-enhancing suspects, including dual continuously variable valve timing.
Wield this rear-drive ax through a corner, and it brings a smile — not that it could do it, but that it does it so well. Ride quality is firm but not harsh, and it performs well on all surfaces. Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position summer rubber on 19-inch wheels gives a hefty stance. And behind them are 13.6-inch vented, four-piston front discs at the front and 12.4-inch, four-pot solid discs at the rear.
With an eight-speed Shiftronic transmission, fuel economy on the highway is a respectable 25 mpg on premium fuel, which is required for peak performance. The Genesis matches or beats the mpg of the competition, and it has more power.
The transmission has a manual shift-gate, which sharpens performance to a sport mode. But there is no dedicated sport mode to enjoy the quickened pace. The quicker response is available only in the manual shift mode. The standard drive setting isn’t dull, but at times, when the hammer goes down, there’s a long second of communication before the engine clears its throat and roars.
The 5.0 R-spec is a hunk of power, but it is well-executed for American-class comfort and drivability.