Fast Take: 2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec

The Genesis 5.0 R-Spec wears special 19-inch wheels and looks a little menacing, too.
The 2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec wears special 19-inch wheels and looks a little menacing, too.

WHAT IS IT: The 5.0-liter V-8 bigger brother of the standard Genesis sedan.

Bigger, as in 429 horses vs. the stock Genesis’ 375hp, 4.6-liter V-8. For two grand more you’re not just buying a motor. There’s also an R-tuned suspension, which translates as weightier feeling steering, and greatly reduced lean into corners. The R-Spec is fast, and an eight-speed transmission helps keep the muscle coursing through the rear wheels as it bombs to 60 mph (and well beyond) in just a little more than five seconds.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec $46,800 $47,695 429/376
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 16/25

If you’re waiting for a but, you won’t really get to one. Or not a full-throated one, anyway. This car is a steal; the sticker on our loaded tester came to $46,800 and you’re left wanting absolutely nothing in the way of options. The leather seats are as comfortable as any German car might offer, the fronts are heated and cooled, and the rears get their own heat and air controls and as much or more knee room as you’ll find in more expensive alternatives (with the same muscle) in the Audi A6, Benz E-Class or BMW 5 series.

Hyundai's pushing styling to the fore and they're really turning heads. Just this very subjective detail shot tells you this isn't another brand's design, and that's a very good thing.
Hyundai’s pushing styling to the fore and they’re really turning heads. Just this very subjective detail shot tells you this isn’t another brand’s design, and that’s a very good thing.

WHAT’S BEST: As a long-haul mileage eater, or a car for entertaining clients, or a family car with far lower than Euro-parts costs for repairs, the Genesis R-Spec makes a ton of sense. It’s comfortable, but not squishy; don’t think boat, think composed and quiet, but very fast, and plenty stable enough for 80 mph interstate blasts. And, yes, it’ll bust loose around freshly blacktopped country lanes, though it feels like it’s holding its breath, girding for the job. Pound through corners and you feel the car’s size, the special 19-inch 45R rubber clawing for purchase.

IS THAT OKAY? Yes. Because while Hyundai would probably like to think its 5.0 R-Spec is a rival to supercharged Audis and V-8 Benzes, if it has real competition it comes from Japan, and in particular from Lexus’s rebooted F-Sport GS.

Oh, sure, there’s nearly two inches of additional legroom in the second row of the Genesis, and the Hyundai also cruises around with over 100 extra horses under the hood, but the Lexus scoots to 60 mph nearly as quickly and even the AWD F-Sport gets 19/26 fuel economy vs. just 16/25 for the R-Spec.

Really, the reason why the comparison holds up is because Lexus is truly a viable target for this Hyundai, a stupendous achievement by a carmaker that just a half decade ago was hardly taken seriously by any industry watcher.

Buttons, dials, more buttons! Is it a car or a starship?
Buttons, dials, more buttons! Is it a car or a starship?

WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE? Some of what’s here, however, isn’t Lexus-like. True, the interior trim is well executed; there are zero gaps in fit, and although austere you could accuse BMW and Mercedes of the same sin (and to a lesser extent, Audi as well).

But where you’ve seen Audi, Lexus, Acura and even Infiniti take reasonably strong steps toward reducing the button clutter of their instrument panels there are over 30 buttons, toggles and dials in the central waterfall of switches between driver and front passenger. This doesn’t count the steering wheel controls, door controls, and yet more switches adjacent to the driver’s left knee.

All might be forgiven if the mouselike dial in the center console operated intuitively and bypassed additional toggling, selecting, and not looking at the deer standing 200 yards down the road in your lane…. But alas that’s not the case. You can (and should) use voice commands to keep your eyes up, and off the nav screen. Just say “FM” or “satellite” to switch the incoming audio source (piped through a fairly great 17-speaker sound system by the way).

Speaking of operations that could go more smoothly, and eight-speed autobox is a pretty remarkable device, but this one’s slow to upshift. On the highway cruising at 75 mph we had to toggle over to manual mode repeatedly to have it finally grab the lower-rpm final cog, and in said sport setting (remember this is the sportier R-Spec machine) it will unfortunately upshift at redline rather than hold that gear and bounce it off the rev limiter as you’d hope.

None of these are unforgivable sins, however. As I’ve said, this car’s natural target is to poach potential Lexus, or possibly Infiniti or Acura intenders — and boast Audi A8 rear seat legroom for a more than $20,000 discount.

All of those targets are nailed. Handily. If there’s anything left to wonder it’s whether, when they’re good and ready, will Hyundai be able to chase the Germans, too. I’d say, don’t dare bet against them.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec a Buy It!

Here’s video of the 2012 Genesis 3.8-liter