First Look: 2012 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

If the prospect of a Hyundai Genesis sedan with a more efficient and powerful V-6 engine doesn't get you going, maybe the semi-premium sedan's new R-Spec trim will. The 2012 Genesis R-Spec introduces a third engine to the car's lineup: a 5.0-liter V-8 pumping out 429 horsepower.

Debuting at the Chicago Auto Show, the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan is prepared to battle competitors from above, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and, more directly, the Chrysler 300C. Whether you choose the V-6 or one of the two V-8 models, the Genesis uses a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

In addition to the transmission, direct-injection technology increases the power and efficiency of the 3.8-liter V-6 Genesis. Power is now 333 horsepower (43 more ponies than before), and torque has risen from 264 pound-feet to 291 pound-feet. Hyundai expects highway fuel efficiency to increase to 29 mpg, though city fuel economy probably won't stray far from the 2011 model's 18 mpg. With power on the 4.6-liter V-8 remaining at 385 horsepower, this makes the V-6 model more of a value than before. Don't be surprised if the 2012 Genesis 3.8 accelerates as fast as a 2011 Genesis V-8.

The real news for the 2012 Genesis is the R-Spec model. Its 5.0-liter V-8 makes 429 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 376 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm. This latest version of Hyundai's Tau V-8 has a revised bed plate to improve block rigidity and lower NVH-both important considerations since the engine also replaces the 4.6-liter V-8 in the larger 2012 Equus.

For the full R-Spec package, we'd recommend upgrading to the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer performance tires. Larger front and rear stabilizer bars should also help improve the driving experience, and form the backbone of what the automaker calls "aggressive chassis tuning." The R-Spec adds a little flash with dark chrome inserts in the headlights and unique 19-inch alloys. The steering has been tweaked, too, though we'll have to wait until we get some seat time before determining whether it's a true competitor with sportier entries in the segment.

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