2009 Hyundai Genesis

It's the start of something, all right. The Genesis sedan marks the debut of Hyundai's first-ever V-8 engine, its first-ever rear-wheel-drive platform, and its first foray into the luxury car arena. Hyundai is positioning the car as a BMW 5-series/Infinti M/Lexus GS competitor, priced to match the rear-wheel-drive domestic-brand competition (Chrysler 300/Pontiac G8).

If you doubt Hyundai's luxury intentions, check out the car's list of available equipment, which includes intelligent cruise control; adaptive headlights; heated and cooled seats; a rearview camera; high-end audio (by Lexicon) with NavTraffic, iPod and USB inputs; Bluetooth; keyless ignition; leather seating and even a leather-wrapped dashboard.

Like its competition, the Genesis will offer 6-cylinder or V-8 power. Two V-6 engines are rated at 268 hp and 290 hp, while the all-new V-8 generates 368 hp (on regular fuel) and 375 hp (with premium) from its 4.6 liters. All engines are teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission and drive the rear wheels. (No all-wheel-drive option will be offered.) Hyundai claims the 8-cylinder version will reach 60 mph in less than 6 seconds.

The Genesis goes on sale this summer. The car will come in a single trim level. Prices for the base V-6 engine version will start under $30,000 (though probably not far under), while the V-8 should be around $35,000.

This chassis will also underpin a production version of the Coupe concept seen at the 2007 L.A. auto show, which likely will reach showrooms toward the end of the year.

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