CORNWALL, N.Y. — It is a car made for U.S. Route 9W, which runs north and south through New Jersey and New York, ascending northward alongside Storm King Mountain, bending and curving just before reaching Crow’s Nest to give you a spectacular view of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
It is the kind of car that enhances scenery by feeling the road, viscerally and literally, flowing, sweeping curves and occasional cracks and potholes.
You try to avoid the bad stuff. But you don’t mind it much when it happens. The 2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec, a full-size, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan, which arguably redefines notions of luxury and value, recovers nicely.
An aside: If there remain among us people who do not understand, accept or otherwise believe that Hyundai is intent on displacing its Japanese and European rivals in consumer preference rankings, recalcitrant doubters should drive the 2012 Genesis R-Spec. Then, price it.
In my real-world experience, spectators repeatedly priced the Genesis R-Spec $10,000 to $20,000 above its actual base price of $46,500. That means Hyundai has accomplished a kind of reverse badge engineering here. Instead of pricing a car based on the prestige of its badge or brand, it has burnished the appeal of the Hyundai Genesis badge with solid, unassailable value.
It is remarkable — first-class luxury, first-class performance and safety, first-class exterior and interior styling at a considerably less than first-class price in comparison with rivals.
The car speaks for itself. Start with Hyundai’s new 5-liter, gasoline-direct-injection V-8 engine — 429 horsepower, 376 foot-pounds of torque. It moves you — quickly, smoothly, minus all of the macho-boy exhaust noises some manufacturers find mandatory in the production of performance automobiles.
The Genesis R-Spec, by comparison, is smooth, powerful and quietly authoritative. There is a practical value to its demeanor on heavily policed highways, such as nearby Interstate 87, where New York State Police delight in pulling over motorists who mistakenly think it’s a good idea to make high-decibel exhaust note performance statements.
Power in the Genesis R-Spec is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually. Eight gears generally are better than six or five in the pursuit of better fuel economy — which isn’t all that horrible in the Genesis R-Spec.
You get 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway using premium-grade fuel, which Hyundai’s engineers recommend for “best performance.” Those mpg numbers aren’t great. But you don’t shop for fuel economy in a 429-horsepower car.
The overall Genesis R-Spec package is well worth the price — lots of power exquisitely delivered, deft handling that rivals anything in its class, a beautifully appointed passenger cabin of supple leather and wood-grain accents gifted with every conceivable electronic amenity, all at a base price below $50,000,
That’s remarkable, simply remarkable.