Special Coverage

2011 Chicago Auto Show

Hyundai takes the wraps off its refreshed ’12 Genesis sedan at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show and reveals its upcoming Veloster coupe will compete in rallycross racing.

The ’12 Genesis, going on sale in April, features the newest iteration of Hyundai’s Tau V-8, a 429-hp 5.0L direct-injected variant making 376 lb.-ft. (510 Nm) of torque. It was named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines for 2011.

The 5.0L DI V-8, with an 11.5:1 compression ratio, up from the 385-hp 4.6L V-8 Tau’s 10.4:1, is exclusive to the R-Spec version of the ’12 Genesis. The R-Spec also gets larger wheels and tires (19 in.) and sport-tuned suspension, steering and transmission.

The R-Spec Genesis features a new Hyundai-developed 8-speed automatic, as well. The auto maker claims the new gearbox increases the ability to transfer power by 6% vs. the Genesis’ existing 6-speed automatic and is the first 8-speed auto available in a non-luxury-brand vehicle.

Despite the increased horsepower of the 5.0L DI V-8, Hyundai claims fuel economy is nearly matched, at 16/25 mpg (14.7/9.4 L/100 km) city/highway vs. the 4.6L’s 17/26 mpg (13.8/9.0 L/100 km).

Direct injection also is added to the ’12 Genesis’ V-6 engine. The 3.8L Lambda V-6 goes from 290 hp to 333 hp as a result, Hyundai says. Torque also rises, from 264 lb.-ft. (358 Nm) to 291 lb.-ft. (395 Nm), as does highway fuel economy, from 27 mpg to 29 mpg (8.7 to 8.1 L/100 km).

The new DI V-6 carries over dual continuously variable valve timing, variable induction, aluminum block and heads, steel timing chain and iridium-tipped spark plugs. Added is a variable vane oil pump, which the auto maker says precisely matches oil pressure with lubrication needs to maximize efficiency across the entire engine speed range.

The 3.8L DI V-6 sees a compression ratio bump, from 10.4:1 to 11.5:1.

Hyundai’s new 8-speed automatic becomes the standard transmission for the V-6 Genesis, as well as the Genesis with the existing 4.6L V-8.

After much internal debate, Hyundai decided the 5.0L will replace the 4.6L V-8 in its just-on-sale Equus flagship large sedan, rather than be an addition to the line. Equus units with the 5.0L arrive in U.S. showrooms this summer.

In addition to the changes under the hood, the Genesis for ’12 boasts chassis and exterior upgrades. The 3.8L and 4.6L models get revised suspension damping calibrations, a bigger rear stabilizer bar and larger front brake rotors, plus changes made to refine handling and ride comfort, the auto maker says.

Hyundai calls the ’12 Genesis’ front grille “more aggressive” than the ’11 model’s, thanks to larger intake openings and redesigned headlights. The new model includes light-emitting diode accents and daytime running lights.

Standard 17-in. alloy wheels are “freshened” and rocker panels “refined,” the auto maker says.

Exterior mirrors now have optional power-fold and puddle-lamp functionality, taillights are redesigned, and the side-window surround boasts a brushed-aluminum finish.

A newly developed lane-departure warning system is available on 4.6L and 5.0L R-Spec Genesis models, as well as 3.8L cars equipped with the optional technology package.

Meanwhile, the new ʼ12 Veloster will compete at the Summer X Games of the 2011 U.S. Rallycross Championship Series. Driver Rhys Millen fabricated and will race a 500-hp, all-wheel-drive Veloster in the series.

Hyundai says 12 Rhys Millen Racing employees stripped a production Veloster “to bare metal, and the chassis spent five days in an Alkali bath removing all rubber and adhesives. The chassis was also stitch welded for added structural rigidity.”

The production Veloster’s stock hood, doors, front fascia, rear fascia and quarter panels were swapped out for 75% lighter carbon/Kevlar panels.

A custom-fabricated 8-point safety cage and firewall was added for Rhys Millen’s Veloster, as were braces on the A and B pillars.

The car also gets a custom suspension, 18-in. Hankook Racing tires and 14-in. Alcon brake rotors.

A 2.0L 4-cyl. is mated to a HKS ball bearing turbocharger and X-Trac 6-speed sequential transmission, Hyundai says, resulting in 500 hp and 600 lb.-ft. (813 Nm) of torque for the Rhys Millen Veloster.

That’s up from 138 hp and 123 lb.-ft. (167 Nm) in the production car, which uses a 1.6L direct-injected 4-cyl. engine

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com