It's a bold move by Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. to roll out a new V-8 in a time of economic downturn and fuel conservation.

Yet, the new Tau 4.6L DOHC V-8 scores a first-time Ward's 10 Best Engines appearance for the South Korean auto maker with an impressive mix of power, efficiency and affordability.

Unanimously praised for being a ton of engine for the V-8 Genesis sedan's sub-$40,000 asking price, the Tau represents Hyundai's longing to undercut the price of established luxury-vehicle players, while also flexing its engineering muscle.

With high levels of refinement permitting creamy runs up the powerband, the Hyundai V-8 feels much like the 4.6L Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. Northstar V-8s that influenced its design.

However, variable intake and valvetrain systems, as well as other advances in internal components, allow the 375-hp Tau to outperform all of its mid-level luxury rivals, including in the area of fuel economy.

And most of those rivals, namely from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, are considerably more expensive than the $54,000 price cap afforded to 10 Best Engines entrants. Despite being a little short on emotion, the Tau is a triumph for an auto maker venturing for the first time into the luxury market.

Engine type: 4.6L DOHC 90° V-8

Displacement (cc): 4,627

Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 92 × 87

Horsepower (SAE net): 375 @ 6,500 rpm

Torque: 333 lb.-ft. (451 Nm) @ 3,500 rpm

Specific output: 82 hp/L

Compression ratio: 10.4:1

Assembly site: Ulsan, South Korea

Application tested: Genesis

EPA city/highway (mpg): 17/25