Moving on to the feature list, one can easily get lost in the extensive array of convenience and safety items included even in base trim with the 3.8-litre GDI V6 that starts at $39,999. Basics like alloy wheels, disc brakes with ABS and brake force distribution, stability and traction control, eight airbags, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, fog lights and automatic headlights are only the beginning. Genesis ups the luxury quotient with automatic headlights, puddle lamps on the mirrors, interior accent lighting, acoustic laminated glass, dual zone climate control, proximity entry with push button start, power sunroof, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power heated front seats with two memory settings, leather, active headrests (for whiplash prevention), auto dimming mirrors, Bluetooth handsfree phone system and a seven-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary inputs with iPod cable included (although, again, the system would not recognize my iPhone).

Test Drive: 2012 Hyundai Genesis R Spec car test drives reviews luxury cars hyundai
2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec. Click image to enlarge

If you’re exhausted by this list, take a breath and prepare for more, or skip a couple paragraphs ahead if you already have the Genesis’ feature list down. I wouldn’t normally include all these features, but it is truly amazing what this car delivers at $40,000 that would cost an extra ten grand on many $60,000 vehicles, and fully loaded at $54,000, with features you’d have to add package by package on $80,000 competitors. Skipping the details of the premium and technology trims on the 3.8, the 5.0 R-Spec includes all of the following for the $53,499 list price: HID headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, chrome accents, adaptive cruise control parking sensors (front and rear), back-up camera, adaptive headlights, lane departure warning, navigation system with 6.5-inch touch-screen and multimedia controller, 17-speaker Lexicon sound system, LCD trip computer in the gauge cluster (which annoyingly reset after every trip), cooled driver’s seat, power rear sunshade, leather-wrapped dash and a thick, meaty heated steering wheel wrapped in wood and leather.

Call me ridiculous for listing almost every little feature, but there are actually more, like ambient lighting and door scuffs that very few people would factor into a purchase decision. Key purchase factors like expected reliability (Hyundai is in the top 10 in JD Power’s 2012 Dependability Study), safety (IIHS Top Safety Pick) and value — that exhaustive feature list comes at a price that overlaps with many luxury brands’ entry level offerings — make the Genesis a sound purchase.

Test Drive: 2012 Hyundai Genesis R Spec car test drives reviews luxury cars hyundai
2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec. Click image to enlarge

However, Hyundai does the Genesis no favours by cloaking it in an anonymous design that invites brand confusion, sometimes elevating and sometimes knocking it down a peg or two. Case in point: when I first pulled up to the curb to pick up my wife from work, she said, “Ooooh fancy, but at first I thought it was a Pontiac.” Ouch. A couple days later, when pointing it out to the gas station attendant to pay to fill the huge tank, and simply describing it as the black car, he queried: “The Mercedes?”

Its sheet metal is attractive and contemporary but almost completely lacking any distinction to make it memorable, and the absence of a big stylized H logo on the grille (and only recently added to the trunk) mean that this flagship does little to promote the brand in driver’s minds. And from the other end, the masses of converts that have come to respect and admire the Hyundai brand for its excellent value, improved reliability and dramatic styling in other segments might completely pass it by for its lack of brand identity; all in all, a strange omission on a flagship luxury sedan.

The Genesis R-Spec is an impressive machine, with good looks, credible performance and excellent value as a luxury cruiser, though a little short on sport. If you want a car with all the amenities and most of the moves, but without the pretension and price tags (and prestige) of the well-established German and Japanese luxury brands, the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec delivers.

Pricing: 2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec



About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.