2012 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Sedan - Badge Snobs need not apply...though they may want to

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What’s in a “Badge”, ask ye of little faith?

When it comes to luxury cars, we here at “Drive…He Said” surmise ” A lot.”

The hood / grille of every Mercedes flaunts the “Three-Pointed Star“, BMW, the “Blue and White Propeller”; Audi, the “Four Inter-Connecting Rings“, Jaguar a “Leaping or Frowning Cat“, Cadillacs their French coat-of-arms, Lincolns a “Four-pointed star.” We haven’t even covered the Rolls Royces, Bentleys and other exotics of the world.

Two of the less storied automakers from the Land of the Rising Sun responded to our shouts: to Honda’s Acura we said “Give us an “A“; to Toyota’s Lexus “Give us an “L“. Nissan’s Infiniti, trying to be coy, melded an image of Mount Fuji into the mathematical symbol for limitless.

Recently, Korea’s  Hyundai dropped off its entry into the mid-size, luxo-sedan segment here at “Drive…He Said.”  Immediately, we scoured the hood of the 2012 Hyundai 3.8 sedan. There was nary an “H” or “ship” emblem or a construction crane  [in homage to the company’s heritage] to be found. The implicit message is:  “We don’t need any stinkin’ badges” to attract the savvy, well-heeled American consumer who appreciates finer things in life,” (our words).  “Yeah, right, whatever,” (our words, again).

How Did He Get In?:

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan blends into rather than crashes the party.  Common reactions for those at a loss, while hastily snapping fingers, should include: “Isn’t that that a… Mercedes Benz [with the bisected horizontal grille slats]?” or “That’s a…Lexus LS, right, [with the large lower rear valance and chrome trimmed exhaust apertures]?” and finally, “What a nice…Infiniti M, [with the last generation’s tail lights].” If your complaints are that the 2012 Hyundai Genesis is a chameleon among those fine competitors, then you are buying into Hyundai’s “Theory of Divine Badge-Less Anonymity.” After all its hard to distinguish among tuxedos.

Measures Up (on paper):

To arrive at the event, the Hyundai Genesis does so without the fellow guests’ exotic [and more costly] forced induction, all-wheel drive or active suspensions. Our Genesis tester pulled up with a bored out 3.8L version of the corporate aluminum V6 “Lambda” engine. New for 2012: Direct Injection bumps the compression ratio to 11.5:1 . Now with 333 horsepower, the 2012 Genesis 3.8 sedan now has boasting rights over the six cylinder Infiniti M37, Lexus GS350, Mercedes-Benz E350, BMW 535i, Audi A6, Chrysler 300 and Lincoln MKS 3.7. Still, torque tells the acceleration story. The 2012 Genesis makes its 295 lb-ft of torque at a peaky 5100 rpm. Hence, you don’t feel the same urgency off the line in the Genesis 3.8, as in the forced induction 535i or A6, either of which deliver their twist  at 2000 rpm. More authoritative engine sounds might have changed our impression.

Also new for the 2012 Genesis: an in-house made 8-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission. Left in auto mode there is the occasional gear hunting for lower fuel consumption. Slide the shift lever into manual mode, stomp on the accelerator, and the engine will nonchalantly enter the red-line zone. With a tall 3.9:1 final drive ratio expect sub 6 second 0-60 runs in the 3900 lb. Genesis 3.8 sedan. Three over-drive gears ensure that the 2012 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 sedan returned an acceptable 22 m.p.g. of fuel economy in combined conditions driving at our feet, despite plenty of pedal mashing.

The 2012 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 sedan to have all the essential ingredients for a well sorted out chassis. A fully-independent multi-link suspension, front and rear, featuring  frequency sensing dampers, anti-roll bars with intensive use of aluminum can make for a good balance of handling and ride compliance. Speed sensing variable assist for the steering is tried and true hydraulic powered which delivers linear response. Our test Genesis was shod with 235/50 Michelin Energy all-season touring tires on 18″ alloys.  Brake specs are also impressive.  Up front, 13″ ventilated rotors clamped down on by 4 piston calipers. Out back, discs are still sizable at 12.4″ but are the solid type. As a result pedal effort is pretty easy to modulate in anything less than flat-out gonzo stopping efforts.

Luxurious, Technically Speaking:

Outside of North America, meaning in Asia, the Genesis is oft chauffeur-driven, playing the role of executive shuffling chariot. Could this be why the rear center seat position rises as does a camel’s hump and offers on par comfort?  Larger and more leisurely driving chauffeurs should feel right at home with the multi-adjustable power driver’s seat which is big on lumbar support but short on lateral support.

Techies should be pleased that nearly every major desirable gizmo is available on-board the 2012 Hyundai Genesis, except for active parallel parking assist. Notably present are Lane Departure Warning (sans steering correction), whiplash strength Adaptive Cruise Control for time you get cut off on the interstate, and hill stop hold, hands-free communications, streaming audio via Bluetooth  and Navigation featuring a 8″ screen whose menus and sub-menus are accesses via a rotary controller. Audiophiles ought rejoice that they are no longer obliged to buy a $380,000 Rolls Royce Phantom to experience the wide DVD-Audio sound stage presence courtesy of Lexicon, designer of professional sound reproduction equipment. The 7.1 Discrete Logic7, 17 speaker, 528 watt surround audio system is offered in the Hyundai Genesis sedan as part of the Technology package.

The “Devil is in the Details”:

1) Premium fit, sometimes: the mesh grille covering the center channel speaker atop the dash fits like a wavy potato chip, the trunk compartment lining and spare cargo floor cover were on the flimsy side; and the fuel filler door release button seemed loose.

2) Premium finish, attempting: the matte silver painted plastic interior door releases do a poor aluminum imitation (as do the center stack climate buttons), what little real aluminum cabin trim exists (around the rotary controller) seems paper thin,  and the digital clock makes us long for a more elegant analog clock; the rotary dial controller for the navigation / infotainment screen lacks the fine-machined feel that competitors have endowed similar devices with. Any tree can prove that the faux dark wood-grain trim looks nothing like the real thing.

3) The upward cant of the 8″ navigation / infotainment screen towards the windshield invites more than a little sun glare;

4) We would not have minded the fact that the center console rotary controller for the [Tech Package] navigation screen accomplishes less than in competing systems, while still requiring additional movement, had the voice command system recognized and executed most our of our SHOUTED commands. However, it did not. Thus, we did mind – both.

5)  You can’t even get cooled front passenger and rear seats which are available on a$10,000 less expensive  Hyundai Azera

6) Hyundai’s advertised specs for the Genesis’ trunk say 15.9 cu. ft. We have seen trunks advertised with lower volume having greater stowage. Nor  does the rear seat fold down. Apparently the chauffeured executive sends any meaningful luggage by way of another vehicle.

The Long Road to Luxury Sport:

7) The engine idle could be described as lumpy.

8) The steering is slow to react to inputs, all the more a let-down since the 3.8’s rack is pure hydraulically assisted, devoid of any electrics. Understeer is noticeable at anything approaching the limits.

9) The suspension is barely adequate to quell body roll and dive in quick transitions. Impacts over severe frost heaves produce body quiver that is felt in the seats. To inspire the kind of spirited driving that the Teutonic competition does, spring rates and bushings may have to be revisited.

“Rookie Moves?” We hope so. Priced as our fully loaded tester was at just over $43,000, there is Costco level value here. For now, we can give the 2012 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 sedan a pass on most of the niggles. The Genesis sedan should stay and mingle awhile at the luxo-sedan party, keeping its eyes peeled and ears open.  Secret Badge Snobs take comfort: you can always slap onto the hood of your Genesis sedan the  [Bentley-esque] winged hood badge from the Korean domestic market. (They are widely available on the internet.)

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