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The latest Genesis proves that Hyundai isn’t easing up on its aspirational objectives
13 July 2011

What is it?

It's never easy changing a brand’s image – especially when you’ve developed a reputation for cheap and cheerful products. Yet Hyundai’s aura has been upgraded substantially in recent years and, along with marked improvements in reliability, the original Genesis saloon (not sold in Europe) was a critical asset in that makeover.

The big executive saloon was the Korean maker’s first plunge into the mid-sized luxury segment. It had its flaws but, nonetheless, landed the North American Car of the Year trophy and generated significant sales. Meanwhile, Hyundai began addressing niggling concerns almost immediately and has upgraded the Genesis for 2012 with a variety of updates that include the launch of its biggest and most powerful engine yet, which makes its debut alongside an all-new eight-speed automatic that has been developed in-house.

Our first drive in this facelifted US-market 5.0-litre Genesis gives us the opportunity to try a version of the car more representative of the next-generation saloon, which is under consideration for right-hand drive production, and UK-market introduction, from launch.

What's it like?

The 5.0-litre V8 itself is a serious bruiser – a direct-injection engine churning out 423bhp, or more muscle than any direct rival. With its 376lb ft of torque coming on quickly, it’s satisfyingly responsive – especially once the self-programming gearbox begins to match shifts to your driving style.

The V8 serves as the heart of an all-new variant of the Genesis, the 5.0 R-Spec, which complements the existing V6 and V8 versions of the saloon. For those who expect a Korean challenge to the likes of BMW’s M division or Mercedes’ AMG, the R-Spec falls short. The car’s handling isn’t sufficiently precise or controlled for full-on sports saloon billing, but it adds welcome composure to the ordinary Genesis’s dynamic act without sacrificing comfort.

Officially, Hyundai proclaims the 2012 model the second update of the Genesis saloon line (which is not to be confused with the smaller Genesis coupé). Visual changes are modest and include a revised front bumper, altered chrome trim, LED headlight accents, tweaked rocker panels, new dual asymmetric exhaust tips and a few other details that only sharp-eyed Genesis fans will notice.


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Inside, Hyundai has upgraded the look of the saloon’s trim, the overall feel coming a bit closer to what you’ll get from the best of the Europeans in this segment. There’s also a fair bit of new technology – including Lane Departure Warning, heated rear seats and a TFT LCD display mounted between the speedo and revcounter – although the Koreans aren’t challenging Mercedes or BMW for techno-supremacy.

With this new and impressive engine, the Genesis has become an even more competent executive car. Assuming that the next one can only get better – and that it could be on offer in the UK within just a few years, for a price that’s likely to undercut the competition by more than £10,000 – the Genesis could turn out to be a very smart and appealing buy indeed.

Should I buy one?

If you’re not willing to bankrupt the household budget for a top-of-the-line German or Japanese executive saloon, but still have high expectations of performance, refinement, comfort and quality, it could suit you perfectly.

Paul Eisenstein

Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec

Price: £30,000 (est); Top speed: 152mph (governed); 0-60mph: 5.1sec; Economy: 25.0mpg (est); C02: na; Kerb weight: 1835kg; Engine: V8, 5038cc, petrol; Power: 423bhp; Torque: 376lb ft

Join the debate


25 July 2011

The current small Hyundais are pretty competitive, and the company is obviously ambitious. It is only a couple of decades since people were giggling at the idea of Toyota being able to build a better S-class, and look how well the LS series did. If I were Mercedes I would be pretty concerned about this.

25 July 2011

+1 dear Redux.

25 July 2011

i think a lot of these car companies are catching up with the likes of Merc Bmw and Audi. i do actually believe that there isnt a bad car on the market these days. there may be some better than others but theres nothing really bad. its all about badge snobbery.

25 July 2011

If Hyundai can produce a 5.0 V8 with this spec in the UK for £30k it will be a success, however, I just cant see being introduced into the UK with that engine never mind at that price. If they did I would buy one without hesitation.

25 July 2011

Five years old and 50k miles on these are going to be a bargain.

25 July 2011

Very impressive and in my opinion a far better looking than the 5 series.

Hyundai just need to bridge the gap between the UK engine line up and this car and they would really be on to a winner.

25 July 2011

Five years and 50K on, I can imagine buying one of these to stuff the engine into something else. Well, 10 years on, maybe.

26 July 2011

I think its a very nice looking saloon, the back reminds me of an Infiniti. Interior could maybe do with some wood/piano black/metal trim, but this isnt a UK spec model so that might change. All in all I'm impressed. Lexus have proved you dont have to have history to be a credible luxury car maker, I think this car proves Hyundai have the same potential. Maybe the next generation of saloons & coupes should drop the Hyundai badge & sell under the Genesis brand, differentiate them from your boggo i10s etc. Like Lexus & Toyota, Infiniti & Nissan, etc.

26 July 2011

I think it's a very attractive looking car, not very distinctive but enough to worry the likes of Saab/Volvo. We seem to be obsessed with sports handling big tyred cars when the reality is that most of the time we are stuck in traffic or cruising down a motorway when what really matters is comfort

26 July 2011

I'm pretty sure i read in the past Hyundai UK saying that they had absolutely no plans to sell the Genesis at least in saloon form in the UK - so the point of the test being?


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