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Before 2008, the phrase "Korean luxury car" would have been a punchline, but the Hyundai Genesis managed to elevate Hyundai from also-ran foreign manufacturer to a legitimate contender in the public's eye.

Three years on and the Genesis is due for an update, and Hyundai has gone beyond the usual tweaked tail lights and new wheel designs. The big news for the 2012 Genesis is a power bump, with the base Genesis V6 now making 333 horsepower, up from 290. At the other end of the spectrum, a new Genesis R-Spec model with a stiffer suspension, tighter steering and a more aggressive wheel and tire package comes equipped with a direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 making 429 horsepower. The former top-dog Genesis with the 4.6-liter V8 remains in the lineup with the same 385-hp, although fuel economy has been improved by one click on the highway for a new 17/26-mpg rating.

During the technical briefing, Hyundai was quick to boast that the 5.0 is the most powerful motor ever developed by Hyundai, but equally coy when asked about expected sales numbers for the R-Spec, or what percentage of Genesis customers would opt for the $46,500 high-performance model. Clearly, this is a demonstration of what Hyundai can do rather than a volume model, but that didn't stop us from making a bee-line for the R-Spec, even when conventional logic dictates that we'd only be set up for disappointment upon switching into the V6 model.

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