2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec HD Video Review

Back in 2009, just at the point when Americans began truly accepting Hyundai’s affordable cars, they dropped the Genesis sedan on us.   At launch they claimed it would run with the high-end brands. There was V6 and V8 power to choose from and it came with many of the bells and whistles people expect in luxury cars.  In short, it was an appealing car with an appealing price tag.  The only thing it didn’t have was a badge on the grille.  I’m not talking premium status badge, I mean any identification at all.  From the front, Genesis was completely anonymous.


For 2012 they’ve refined it with a new transmission, engine refinements, fresh taillights and a new front end.  Still, no logo on the nose.  There is one on the back though and reads a bit like a book- Genesis 5.0 R-Spec.

Deciphering the Badge

The R-Spec badge on the back tells the world that Genesis’ transmission programming, suspension tuning, steering calibrations and summer performance tires are up for a little more fun than the standard Genesis.

5.0 means tucked under the hood is a five-liter Tao V8, Hyundai’s most powerful engine ever.   The sound of its 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft or torque at 5,000 RPMs (when drinking premium fuel) is refined, not overly throaty. The automatic gearbox, which is Hyundai’s own design, gets eight speeds.  That’s up two from last year.

Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Fuel economy?  The Genesis R-Spec is EPA rated 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. The V8 power almost makes you forget about the price of gas these days.  Almost.  Still, not bad for a machine this powerful.

The 5.0-liter is exclusive to the R-Spec.  There is another V8 for Genesis, their 4.6-liter Tao engine makes 385 horsepower and is just a smidge more fuel efficient, adding 1 MPG to highway mileage.

Go Speed Racer

Put the pedal down on the R-Spec and suddenly you’re going very, very fast. 0-60 happens in five seconds flat, about twice as fast as a Prius.  If you haven’t experienced G-forces like this in a car, it is great fun.  Duh.  With very capable disc brakes (13.6 inch ventilated in front, 12.4 solid in back) it stops well too.  Always important.


Yes, it handles well.  Cornering is flat and adhesion limits are on the high side.  It’s a bit sterile when it comes to road feel though and tranny shifts are more leisurely than expected in a sport sedan.  R-Spec is not as athletic as BMW M and Cadillac V performance models. Power delivery, cornering, ride quality, and steering feel is all very smooth, almost Lexus-like in that double-coat-of-Teflon kind of way.  R-Spec leans toward the coddling side of the luxury/sport segment which is certainly not a bad thing if that’s what you’re after.

There’s advanced tech on board.  Radar assisted cruise control matches the speed of the car ahead and the lane departure warning helps to keep you centered and looking good to the rest of the world.

Going Dark

Go for an R-Spec over the standard sedan and everything about the conservative interior is deep black.  Details are mostly quite nice. The door handles in the armrests are made with supremely soft leather, gauges are crisp and clear, materials are high quality.  Considering the upscale mission of Genesis a digital clock is a bit of a surprise.   31127_1_1

Also, the side bolstering of the comfortable seats is minimal for a car with performance aspirations. The driver’s chair is heated and cooled.  Only bun warmers for the passengers.

User interfaces in luxury cars can be confusing, the one in Genesis is decent. The knob that gets turned, nudged and tapped is intuitive enough and the surrounding buttons are helpful.  Overall, the experience has a consistent operation and it’s easy enough to decipher without cracking open the manual.  Personally I prefer touch screens, but this set up isn’t half bad.

Hyundai Genesis Sedan

The Back Half

Moving rearward there’s a very comfortable and supportive back seat. Your friends will ask you to drive on chilly days, they get heated seats. Leg and foot room is generous, though the driveshaft tunnel is large and will get in the way of the middle passenger.  There are spaces to stash things away and a powered screen keeps the sun off your friends necks.

There’s nothing too special about the trunk.  It’s well trimmed but the back seats don’t drop to expand utility, there’s just a ski pass through.  In my standard testing metric, six packs of Kirkland brand bath tissue can be packed into the boot.  That’s one short of average. Large hinge arms take up space, at least they are covered by trim so they don’t smash luggage.


Much Less Fluidic

Design? Genesis predates Hyundai’s swoopy new fluidic sculpture language so it’s far less flashy than the rest of the clan.  I especially like the lighted ribbon in the headlamps, and the R-Spec’s 19-inch wheels. This is a car that had that vague look of a Mercedes and BMW blended together when it first arrived and it really hasn’t changed.  Both BMW and MB have moved on, Genesis remains conservative and anonymous.

R-Spec is only available in shades of grey.  My tester wears the darkest paint, Black Noir Pearl.  Titanium Gray Metallic is one step lighter, Platinum Metallic is what most would call silver.


What’s this all cost?  The retail price for this car is $47,375 with destination, the only real option available being a $35 iPod cable.  That’s quite reasonable for what’s included.  Prices for the base V6 model start at around 35 grand. Compared to BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E Class and Lexus GS, it’s a steal that’s priced closer to Chrysler’s 300.  Need a luxury badge?  Look someplace else.  Those who can “settle” for power, luxury, features and crisp handling will find Genesis R-Spec a great deal.



  1. fatbaldandhappy says:

    Surprised by the interior- a sea of black. Would be nice to see some different colors/textures. $45K is big bang for the buck in this class, but it’s also a figure that brings a world of “new to you” cars into play. I don’t mind the exterior, but since the owner usually drives from the inside maybe I’ll take the money and get 30,000 hot dog combo’s instead.

  2. K G says:

    Coke and hot dog?
    Does your doctor watch your vids? LOL
    Oh, the Genesis seems ok.

    • TV says:

      Alright, Coke Zero. And I put a lot of relish and sauerkraut on so I’m getting my veggies…

  3. motorstreet says:

    I am a huge fan of the Genesis. The V8 models are just as nice as the Lexus LS460, but cost $25k less. I love the huge back seat, great quality, and leather dashboard in the Genesis. Personally I don’t mind the styling, because it’s no more bland than a LS460 or E-Class and I don’t mind understated styling. I am not a fan of the all-black interior on the R-Spec. Badge snobs won’t like the Genesis, but to me that’s a good thing. The 333hp V6 model seems like the best bargain.

  4. raschmidt says:

    It looks kind of bland, but pretty much everything in its class is pretty bland. I think the next generation will be interesting when it gets the same design as the rest of the family.

  5. Ken says:

    Interior looks very cheap with light color silver accent, the center dash looks like a toilet, my least fav Hyundai interior of all.