2012 Hyundai Genesis. Click image to enlarge
The major difference between the two, and why I’d buy the V6, is in the suspension. Hyundai may have nailed engines, transmissions and interiors, but the underside could still use some finer-tuning, especially if the company is planning on trash-talking with the German automakers. The V6’s steering is a little lighter – dare I say Lexus-like? – than I prefer. I’d like to transfer the V8’s weightier and more communicative electric-hydraulic steering to the V6 model. Both suspensions have been stiffened up, but while the V6’s comes across as pleasant, especially for a daily driver, I don’t care for the heavier-duty job that’s been done on the V8. It’s fine on smooth roads, but when you get into anything other than glassy pavement, it feels harsh and skittish. It has adaptive damping, but it doesn’t feel like it. I expect a firmer ride in a sportier model, but this seems like the engineers simply beefed it up and then screwed everything tighter.
The R-Spec designation lacks focus, at least right now. The trim line contains a ton of luxury-car features but doesn’t have a luxury sedan’s ride. If the badge is meant to designate the sport-tuned division, as it seems to be, then more aggressive brakes, a throatier exhaust and paddle shifters should be part of the package. Other than the engine, there isn’t enough positive differentiation between the V6 and V8 models at the moment.
If you’re looking at the V6 model, though, there’s an awful lot to like. Hyundai has been on a roll with its latest introductions, and the tweaks to this engine have made a good thing better. Start with the base model, a buck under 40 grand, and you get dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats with driver’s memory, pushbutton start, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, puddle lamps, iPod interface, sunroof and Bluetooth. The Premium adds xenon headlamps, back-up camera, navigation, power sunshade and a superb Lexicon audio system; the Tech package piles on more speakers, lane departure warning, navigation, adaptive headlamps, smart cruise control, exterior auto-dimming mirrors, leather-wrapped dash and that cooled driver’s seat, and it’s still below $50,000. And while it is a mishmash of styles shamelessly stolen from other companies, it looks really good.
When I drove the previous model, I made a game out of putting friends in the back seat and having them guess the brand. I got Lexus, Mercedes, Infiniti and BMW; nobody guessed correctly. Those other manufacturers may still not be too worried, but with a little more focus, some fine-tuning and some time, that might very well one day turn around. Going forward, this could well be Hyundai’s bread-and-butter in the upscale sedan market.