Let's face, when it comes to adding a sporty spiff to an imported luxury car, no one does it better than Mercedes-Benz and AMG. Sorry BMW guys, but that's the truth.
Now Hyundai is edging in that direction with the R-Spec version of the Genesis. That move would be thanks to the most powerful engine Hyundai has done to date, a direct-injection 5.0-liter version of its V-8 boasting 429 bhp and 376 lb.-ft. of torque, with 300 lb.-ft. ready at 1500 rpm. Backing the V-8 is an 8-speed automatic. Hyundai is claiming a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds, which slots it roughly between Infiniti's M56S and Mercedes E550, both of which are significantly pricier that the R-Spec with its starting price of $46,500 freight.
To go with the AMG-izing of the Genesis, Hyundai has upped spring rates, gone to firmer Sachs shocks and added a 19-mm rear anti-roll bar. Steering effort has also been upped and you can feel all this when rushing the R-Spec down a road...though we were in federal parks and weren't sure where Smokey might be lurking, so we want to see the Hyundai on our skidpad and slalom and then open roads. If there's a problem, it's that the R-Spec is somewhat too smooth and rounded off. It needs more growl, a rough-but-tamed edge to it.
It's always nice to see an automaker point one of its premium products at performance. Love that Cadillac CTS-V. So we applaud the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. Still, it needs a bit more pizzazz, starting with more visual distinction than just a small badge at the back. How about fender flares and a distinctive grille?
It might be tough, of course, to meet that impressive price, but that's what it takes. Along with the knowledge that Mercedes and AMG have been at this for a long time, as have BMW and M. It's part of their DNA, like racing and time in grade.
In addition to the R-Spec, the 3.8-liter V-6 version of the Genesis gets direct injection and an increase to 333 bhp and the 8-speed automatic.