2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec car review: Subtle hotrod

2012 HyundaiGenesis R-Spec

2012 HyundaiGenesis R-Spec

Does it make sense to  hot rod a Hyundai Genesis? Not the Genesis Coupe, Hyundai’s 2+2 really-a-sports-car, but rather the Genesis sedan. Not that the Genesis sedan isn’t a very nice sedan, whether V-6 or V-8 power.  But a Hyundai Genesis R-Spec model, with a high-performance direct-injection V-8–the most powerful Hyundai engine ever–a special transmission, suspension and steering calibrations?

Ah, yes, sorta. Read on.

It’s the 2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec, and it’s Hyundai’s take on the sports sedan, Hyundai style. It shares all the basic parameters with the Genesis four-door sedan lineup, but the front-engine/rear-drive mainline sedan has been massaged and well-fettled for high-performance highway work.

The most obvious high-performance component is the engine. It’s Hyundai’s new Tau V-8, a bored-out version of the 4.6-liter V-8. The bore increased from 92mm to 96mm, enough to bring displacement to 5,038cc. More than just a bigger engine, the 5.0-liter Tau has direct injection, which does its usual job of increasing power while decreasing fuel consumption. Because of the charge cooling effect of direct injection as well as the ability to place the fuel where in the cylinder the engineers think it should go, the 5.0-liter engine had its compression ratio raised from 10.4:1 to 11.5:1.

More power means more stress on the engine block though, so Hyundai strengthened the engine’s bed plate, which also lowers NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). Hyundai engineers also fortified the camshaft carriers and roller timing chain to help keep the valve train in place. Naturally, the 5.0 liter engine keeps all the good stuff from Hyundai’s 4.6, including continuously variable valve timing on intake and exhaust sides and tuned variable intake.

Hyundai Genesis R-Spec engine cover

The Hyundai Genesis R-Spec hides its 5.0-liter V-8 under a plastic engine cover.

Despite the increased power, the official EPA estimated fuel economy for the 2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec is 16 mph city and 25 mpg highway, which falls a smidge short of the Hyundai Genesis with the 4.6 liter V-8, which is 17 city/26 highway miles per gallon.

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec gets Hyundai’s new in-house eight-speed transmission. It adds two more ratios to the transmission used by lesser Genesises for smoother operation and, according to Hyundai, it improves fuel economy by six percent over the former six-speed. All eight-speed automatics will have manual shift capability.

The Hyundai eight-speed automatic transmission is the first eight-speed offered by a non-premium badge manufacturer, however the eight-speed transmission as well as the 5.0-liter engine will also be standard equipment in Hyundai’s premium luxury sedan, the Equus.

With more performance capability from the engine in the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai pumped up the chassis tuning as well. The R-Spec Genesis will come standard with 18-inch wheels but  have the option of 19-inch wheels and Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position summer performance tires. Faster going requires faster stopping, so Hyundai increased the front disc brake rotor diameter from 13.0 inches to 13.6 inches.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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