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Hyundai Motor America says the production version of its upcoming large rear-wheel-drive sedan will begin under $30,000 when it goes on sale next year in the U.S.

Hyundai dealers are excited about the vehicle’s impending arrival, saying it further will push the brand up market and build on the success of Hyundai’s current flagship model in the U.S., the Azera.

“We’ve already captured a market of luxury buyers who are tired of paying $695-$795 a month (car payments with the Azera),” says Jeff Zulli, sales manager at West Palm Hyundai in West Palm Beach, FL.

“There are people doing lease returns on Lexus and replacing their leases with Hyundais, believe it or not. They’re starting to appreciate what we have to offer.”

Rob Poliquin, business development center director for Carolina Hyundai of Fort Mill, SC, supports the assertion that luxury buyers are beginning to place Hyundai on their list.

“It’s taken people a little while to catch on to the fact Hyundai does build a quality product,” he says. “I think people are starting to realize Hyundai can build a really nice car that can compete with the (Toyota) Avalons and Lexus and Acuras out there.”

The concept version of the upcoming RWD production model, codenamed BH and the same size as the Dynasty sold in South Korea, will make its debut April 4 at the New York auto show.

Early details from Hyundai note the car will be powered by a new all-aluminum DOHC 4.6L V-8 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic from Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

The engine, dubbed Tau, was developed with variants in mind, such as a larger-displacement V-8 or forced induction, the auto maker says.

“With Genesis, we’ve got a unique product position – an all-new, highly capable, rear-wheel-drive platform; a high-performance powertrain; and premium, progressive design – all at a price starting well under $30,000,” John Krafcik, vice president-product development and strategic planning, says in a statement.

HMA officials have made no secret of their desire to attract a more well-heeled, performance-oriented clientele, with Krafcik telling Ward’s last summer Hyundai was on the hunt for a halo car.

“Do we have the opportunity to stretch the brand and help get the attention, for example, of the enthusiast press in a more strident fashion?” Krafcik said of a tack Hyundai was considering.

Hyundai says the engine in the Concept Genesis delivers “well over” 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. (407 Nm) of torque, with a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of under 6 seconds for the car.

Like most new Hyundai’s, the vehicle is equipped with electronic stability control, as well as eight airbags and antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution. Advanced adaptive cruise control also is featured, Hyundai says.

Stacked up against the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Hyundai says the Concept Genesis’ chassis is stiffer and lighter, with 12%-14% greater dynamic torsional rigidity due to the application of ultra high-tensile steel in key areas.

Hyundai also claims bragging rights for the concept car’s front and rear suspensions, both 5-link designs, with the former having upper and lower arms connecting the car’s front wheels and chassis.

“This artfully articulated arrangement creates a virtual king pin axis, which dramatically reduces unwanted kickback through the steering wheel as well as improving responsiveness,” Hyundai says, adding drivers will be able to select their desired level of ride and handling responsiveness.

Dimensionally, the Concept Genesis is 197 ins. (501 cm) long, about 5 ins. (12.7 cm) longer than the Azera. It has a wheelbase of 115.6 ins. (294 cm) compared with the Azera’s 109.4-in. (278 cm) wheelbase.

Technological gadgetry on the concept car includes heated and cooled seats, push-button start, navigation system with backup camera, Bluetooth capability and an Infinity Discrete Surround Audio System.

Hyundai uses adjectives such as “progressive” and “strong” to describe the design of the Concept Genesis.

Joel Piaskowski, HMA chief designer, told Ward’s in February South Korean and U.S. versions of the production RWD car will be mostly identical, save for a leather-wrapped instrument panel available in the Korean model.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com