When the Hyundai Genesis debuted a few years ago, it was an unmistakable shot over the bows of Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Out of nowhere, Hyundai had created a serious luxury sedan with a proper rear-wheel-drive layout, confident V6 or V8 power, and a spacious interior eerily like that of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class - all for tens of thousands less than the competition. Oh, and Hyundai threw in its industry-leading warranty for good measure. A star was born, as critics and customers alike sang the praises of this genuine luxury bargain.

But even the most smitten observers had to admit that the Genesis wasn't perfect. The V8, for example, provided barely more oomph than the V6. The suspension wasn't quite up to the challenge of smoothing out America's rugged urban roads. And while most rivals had long offered sport packages for enthusiastic drivers, the Genesis stuck to the one-size-fits-all philosophy.

That's where the 2012 Hyundai Genesis comes in, featuring numerous thoughtful updates that enhance its already considerable appeal. Hyundai has generally fixed what was broken and left the rest well enough alone.

Here are AutoTrader's five reasons to buy the 2012 Hyundai Genesis:

  1. New 5.0 R-Spec Model: Let's get the bad news out of the way first: the regular 4.6-liter, 385-horsepower V8 soldiers on unchanged for 2012. But if you're a fan of extra sauce, Hyundai's got you covered with the new Genesis 5.0 R-Spec, which brings a - you guessed it - 5.0-liter, 429-horsepower V8 to the table. If you're scoring at home, that's considerably more ponies than you get with the mainstream V8s from BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes. Not only that, the R-Spec also boasts a sport-tuned suspension that moves the Genesis a notch closer to the Germanic handling realm (watch out for the stiff ride, though). Happily, the R-Spec's most notable exterior styling tweak is a set of 19-inch wheels, so the Genesis's understated look remains.
  2. Revised Suspension Adds Comfort: Hyundai hasn't made a fuss about it, but it's an open secret that the Genesis's default suspension tuning has been tweaked substantially since 2009. Whereas early Genesis models had a tendency to transmit harsh impacts to their occupants, particularly in back, the current Genesis (R-Spec excepted) rides with every bit of the smoothness that luxury buyers expect. It's a comfortable car no matter what the road conditions may be.
  3. Revised V6 Adds Power and Fuel Economy: The Genesis's old 3.8-liter V6 was no slouch, but the new-for-2012 version ups the ante with 333 horsepower (versus 290 hp) and a healthy 22 miles per gallon in combined driving (versus 21 mpg). The power and efficiency gains come courtesy of direct injection, a first for a Hyundai V6. You'll have a hard time finding a stronger six-cylinder engine in any rival-even the executive-class BMW 740i makes do with 315 ponies from its turbocharged inline-6.
  4. Still a Stellar Backseat: Go ahead, test the Genesis's rear quarters against those of other luxury sedans. Unless you're ready to double your expenditure, the Genesis is likely to come out on top. Legroom, headroom, thigh support-you name it, it's ample. If pleasing rear seat passengers is a priority, the Genesis is hard to touch at this price point.
  5. Still a Great Value: Remarkably, Hyundai has more or less held the line on Genesis V6 pricing since the car's debut in 2009-this year's model starts under $35,000, which is just a smidge above a fully optioned family sedan these days. The regular V8 has become more expensive, but it's still a bargain when you look at what most competitors are charging for their V8-powered luxury crusiers. As for the R-Spec, it offers meaningful performance enhancements over the regular V8 for a mere two grand. All in all, the Genesis is still one of the best deals going.
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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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