Driver's Seat: Despite drawbacks, these are fast, sporty fun

The Hyundai Genesis R-Spec Sedan borrows styling cues from Mercedes and Lexus.
The Hyundai Genesis R-Spec Sedan borrows styling cues from Mercedes and Lexus.
Posted: August 02, 2012

2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec sedan; 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Premium: Two-headed monster.

Price: R-Spec, $46,535. 2.0T Premium, $29,625. No options on either.

Conventional wisdom: "Most dependable midsize premium car," J.D. Power and Associates said of the 2012 sedan.

Marketer's pitch: Knocking pricier premium cars off their pedestals.

Reality: I guess I still think 46 grand is a "premium" price. I paid that much for a house once.

Two directions: The two versions of the Genesis that I tested work from such different playbooks one wonders why Hyundai gives them the same model name.

So is one fronted by Peter Gabriel and other by Phil Collins, you ask? Or does one tell the story of The Fall and the other Noah's ark?

No, the R-Spec sedan is a midsize premium family mover that goes super fast; the 2.0T is a smaller coupe that goes rather super fast.

Obviously, the common ground is: They go fast.

To further confuse things, an R-Spec Coupe is available, but it only offers a 3.8-liter V6.

Big V-8, four-cylinder turbo: Both the 5.0-liter V-8 and the turbo that is two-fifths the displacement can shake things up pretty quickly. The R-Spec approaches Boss Mustang territory when accelerating, which is not surprising, considering the V-8 makes 429 horsepower.

The Coupe offers 274 horsepower with premium fuel or a respectable 260 with regular, but the R-Spec drinks only the best liquids.

Rear-wheel drive gives them a sportier feel, as well.

On the curves: The R-Spec is built for straight-line acceleration. Winding back roads are acceptable, but not as fun.

On the other hand, the Coupe shines when the going gets windy.

Shifty: I'm a driver. I love to shift. And I almost started to think that ShiftTronic automatic shifting had regular clutch-shifting beat.

But in reviewing my notes, I found identical scribblings: Sliding through eight gears is just too many choices. Especially when you have to check the dash to see whether the vehicle chooses the gear you want after making a turn. Sure, they both downshift if you press the throttle hard, but there are just too many variables to make this fun. If all that doesn't faze you, it's worth noting the shift is responsive.

Inside: The R-Spec sedan has generous leg room in the rear, crossing into Volkswagen Passat territory in accommodating long legs.

The Coupe has adequate leg room for the rear two seats, but something about the size and shape of the seats made the lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and Sturgis Kids 1.0 and 4.0 look just awkward inside. And the lovely MPS will suffer in the name of automotive review, but she does not do awkward.

Outside: The sedan takes a page from the Mercedes-Lexus playbook, with the slanted grille and steep slopes in front and back. The Coupe reminds me of the final generation of Celica or the old Mazda MX-5, both of which I thought were attractive.

Up top: Of course, the sedan has plenty of headroom all around.

But the Coupe takes a page from the Veloster playbook. Tilt your heads forward, people.

Driver's seat: This spot in both vehicles felt just fine. Sorry, family.

Tiny speedo: The Coupe, especially, suffered from a tiny dial trying to impress drivers with its ability to speed. Sure, it showed me it could go up to 160, but I could hardly tell when it was at 60, because it was so small.

Fuel economy: 22.5 mpg for the R-Spec sedan; 24.5 for the Coupe.

Where they're built: Ulsan, South Korea.

How they're built: As J.D. Power said above, the 2012 sedan is the most dependable in its class. The jury is still out on the 2013 Coupe, and Hyundai's track record has been about in the middle. But a nice, long warranty helps.

In the end: Both vehicles have their drawbacks, but they both deliver as promised: Fast movement and some sporty fun.

The Coupe is especially lively beyond the straightaways and, if your family fits inside, not a bad choice at all for a relative bargain price.

Contact Scott Sturgis at 215-854-2558 or

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