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2012 Hyundai Genesis R Spec: Hyundai Builds A Sport Sedan

Posted in auto industry, Design, Hyundai by Kurt Ernst | July 29th, 2011 | 12 Responses |

2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

Hyundai’s Genesis sedan is only three years old, but it’s already on it’s second refresh, which is business as usual at the Korean automaker. As someone once said, “the Koreans are the only people on the planet who can make the Japanese look like slackers,” and nowhere is this more evident than in the regular updates of their vehicles. Most automakers wait three to five years between model updates, with only minor changes year to year. Hyundai, on the other hand, will incorporate fairly significant changes from year to year, based on the accomplishments of their engineering and manufacturing teams.

2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

For 2012, the base Hyundai Genesis sedan gets a greatly improved 3.8 liter V-6, now equipped with gasoline direct injection and good for 333 horsepower. That’s up by nearly 15 percent over last year, but fuel economy also grows by 1 mpg city and 2 mpg highway. The GDI helps contribute to the fuel savings, but I suspect the bulk of the improvement comes from the new eight-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission, used across the Genesis model line.

2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

Exterior styling gets a few updates for 2012 as well. Front and rear bumpers are new, and a beefier rocker panel gives the Genesis a sportier look. Window trim is toned down, and now consists of brushed aluminum instead of chrome trim. There are new 17-inch and 19-inch wheels, and the headlights get LED accents for the first time.

2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

Image: Hyundai America

The real story, though, is the launch of the 5.0-liter, 429-horsepower Genesis R-Spec sedan. Heavy rains and flooded street prevented me from pushing the handling limits of the R-Spec, but I can tell you this: acceleration is grin-inducing, and Hyundai says the R-Spec will get from 0 to 60 in 5.1 second. It actually feels even faster than that, and I would be surprised to see magazines and websites start clocking times in the sub-five-second range.

2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

Image: Hyundai America

Even on wet pavement, the traction control isn’t overly intrusive. It allows for some wheelspin before the brakes clamp down and turn that into forward progress. The steering calibration and suspension are unique to the R-Spec, and my initial impression is that Hyundai’s engineers put a great deal of effort into finding the perfect blend of comfort and handling. The ride in the R-Spec is firm but never harsh, and it feels much like a BMW 3 Series with the factory sport package.

2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

Image: Hyundai America

I’d like to have the opportunity to wring out the R-Spec on the track, and I think it would prove to be every bit as well balanced as the BMW 335i and the Infinity G37. It’s no M3, but that’s not the market that Hyundai was going after; in fact, Hyundai has the car positioned against the substantially more expensive Infiniti M56 and BMW 550i. I’m not sure I agree, since the Genesis feels smaller and more nimble than either competitor.

2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

Image: Hyundai America

With Hyundai’s recent success across their product line, this much is clear: BMW and Infiniti had better be working on a response as we speak. Even if the current Genesis sedan doesn’t beat them in all categories, the Koreans won’t stop tweaking it until it does.

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12 Responses

  1. James says:

    very nice car I was thinking about getting one

  2. Bill says:

    Very nice. Is that stock? I’m currently looking and I’ve been considering this for a couple of years now. Back then I said I’d wait for the upgraded engine, now I’m waiting for AWD…come on Hyundai, give it to me!

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Bill. that is indeed a stock Genesis R-Spec.

      I see minor changes coming for the R-Spec over the next few years, like paddle shifters and more trim for R-Spec models, but I seriously doubt you’ll see a version with AWD. With today’s traction control and stability control programs and a set of good winter tires, you really don’t even need AWD.

  3. steve says:

    Just ordered the Genesis 5.0 R Spec

    As an E60 M5 owner and BMW enthusiast – I did my homework before deciding on the R Spec

    Value for Dollars : You can’t beat this car
    the BMW 550i fully optioned cost over 20 grand more than the R spec

    A few subtle changes – throw in a free
    flow exhaust, and a revised intake
    and you’ve got 440-450hp – EASY

    Warranty : hands down – a rock solid warranty

    Even without the paddle shifters – the car is a solid performer

    I have no doubt they will supercharge this engine and produce an M5 fighter in 3-5 years

    Remember – I AM an E60 M5 owner

    and I can see Hyundai duking it out with BMW in 5 years

    Definitely in 10 years – you can bank on it

    Audi, BMW, Mercedes……

    you’ve been put on notice with the 5.0 R Spec

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      steve, I’d love to hear some feedback after you take delivery of the car. I agree with your forecast for Hyundai as well; the Japanese didn’t take them seriously, and now they’re scrambling to catch up. The Germans seem to be ignoring Hyundai at their own risk.

      • Steve says:


        took delivery of the 5.0 R Spec

        my initial impressions :

        The ride is very smooth, not harsh like the E60 M5
        a defitine sleeper –
        more than enough power

        the only let down is te new 8 speed transmission –
        it doesn’t like to be rushed
        is slow to react – and hunts gears once in a while

        popping a K&N air filter under the hood is also a good idea = along with a freeflow exhaust
        ( magnaflow will have there’s out in a few months )

        my guess is – with the Magnaflow under the car – I should be putting down at least 440hp to the crank

        not mind blowing – but not too shabby either

        BMW are in for a serious wake up call

        my prediction –

        Hyundai will have an M5 fighter by the time the next generation M5 rolls off the assembly line – if not before

        it will be a 5.5 liter twin turbo Tau V8 pushing 600hp or close to it

        they could supercharge it – but I’m enclined to think they will mate the new 10 speed auto with a new turbo engine design.

        for the emmediate future – they will supercharge their current engines – starting with the new R Spec coupe

        this supercharged V6 will produce at least 400hp
        but I don’t think they will supercharge the Tau 5.0 for the R Spec sedan for marketing reasons – as well as engineering/cost reasons

        although I must admit – I am hoping they will supercharge the 5.0 anyway

        BMW doesn’t see it coming….

        But we do

        • Steve says:

          oh….sorry about my poor spelling

          I need to hit the spell checker more often……lol

        • Kurt Ernst says:

          @Steve, excellent write-up and thanks for giving me your impressions on the car. I spent some time with Ricky Lao, Hyundai’s manager of product planning for the Genesis, and explained the improvements needed on the transmission. Ricky gets it, so let’s hope he can convince the powers that be. I’ve even asked for a six speed manual variant, although I seriously doubt that’s going to happen.

          Just in case you were wondering, the weight distribution on your R-Spec is 53.5% F and 46.5% R, Not too shabby…

          • steve says:


            A big thank you for mentioning to Ricky Lau about the 8 speed transmission – it needs some revamping for sure
            Glad to see he’s on it – he’s a sharp guy and an asset to Hyundai, and to the Genesis brand.

            it looks like they are making a 10 speed transmission.

            I am willing to bet the next generation R Spec will have the new transmission and a monster engine.

            I hear the tuner version of the new Genesis Coupe is on display – and it’s pushing out 450hp

            With that in mind – I firmly believe in 6-10 years Hyundai will have an M5 fighter in production.

            People laughed at Nissan and Toyota years ago

            Now we have the LFA & GTR

            no one is laughing now


          • Kurt Ernst says:

            Steve, Hyundai has become, for better or worse, the new Honda. The difference is that Hyundai accomplished this in half the time it took Honda, Toyota and Nissan.

          • steve says:


            What do you think of this possibility :

            Hyundai bores out the Tau V8 to 5.4 liters and gives it another 44hp – along with the new 10 speed with rev matching

            say….by 2014 – 2015 for the next R Spec

            By 2018- 2020 – Hyundai usse the 5.4 with a twin turbo set up – to rock BMW with a 600 hp rocket coupe / sedan

            The Hyundai Nemesis –

            I like the sound of that

          • Kurt Ernst says:

            @Steve, I’d love to see it, but wouldn’t hold my breath waiting. Hyundai is still on the fence regarding sports cars of any kind. I think we’ll get a better idea when they launch the next Genesis Coupe in 2012; if it’s available with a supercharged (or turbocharged) V-6, or the Tau V-8, then there’s a chance we’ll see a hotter Genesis R-Spec sedan in the future. If they keep the coupet status quo, with modest horsepower gains from the 3.8 V-6 and 2.0 I-4, I’d say we’re out of luck.

            The Veloster is another good example – that car, with the 274 horsepower I-4 from the Sonata Turbo and AWD, would be impressive. Instead, it’s just another good hatchback with a stout chassis in search of a motor.