Ottawa Citizen

Lexus ver­sus Ge­n­e­sis

Pit­ting Hyundai’s 8-cylin­der lux­ury car against com­peti­tor,

- JOHN LEBLANC

In a case of his­tory re­peat­ing it­self, two decades af­ter Ja­pan’s Lexus showed its more es­tab­lished Ger­man lux­ury brands a thing or two about value, Korea’s Hyundai dropped the same value bomb on Lexus with its 2009 Ge­n­e­sis.

Four years later, and the 2013 Ge­n­e­sis R-Spec eight-cylin­der’s mid$50,000 price is still up to tens of thou­sands of dol­lars less than ri­val V8 lux­ury sedans. But to counter its up­start Korean ri­val, Lexus has in­tro­duced a new, V6-only GS sedan, with more ag­gres­sive styling and driv­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The ques­tion is: Are the Hyundai’s two ex­tra cylin­ders enough to make it a bet­ter sports lux­ury sedan than the six-cylin­der Lexus?

FIRST PLACE: 2013 LEXUS GS 350 AWD

Lexus dropped the eight-cylin­der GS a few years ago, leav­ing a pair of rear- or all-wheel-drive gas six-cylin­der models and an RWD-only gas­e­lec­tric hy­brid for 2013. The midrange $54,900 GS 350 AWD comes clos­est to the Hyundai in price, but leads when it comes to over­all re­fine­ment and driv­ing plea­sure.

The Lexus’ 3.5-litre six-cylin­der’s 306 horse­power and 277 pound­feet of torque are no match for the R-Spec V8’s higher num­bers. And the Ja­panese car’s six-speed au­to­matic is down two gears. But the GS 350 AWD’s lighter weight (1,765 kilo­grams ver­sus 1,884) al­lows it to go from rest to 100 km/h in 5.8 sec­onds.

But the GS 350 AWD has it all over the less-than-co-or­di­nated Ge­n­e­sis 5.0 R-Spec sub­jec­tively.

Typ­i­cal Lexus buy­ers can cruise all day in sen­sory de­pri­va­tion mode, but the GS’s Lexus Ve­hi­cle Dy­nam­ics In­te­grated Man­age­ment sys­tem gains a “sport-plus” mode that se­lects a more driver-ori­ented pro­file for the adap­tive sus­pen­sion, elec­tric steer­ing and loosens the sta­bil­ity con­trol lim­its.

Set up ac­cord­ingly, the GS 350 AWD’s au­to­box fires off gear changes like a sharp­shooter at the range. And where the Hyundai wal­lows in turns, the Lexus re­mains in­cred­i­bly sta­ble, able and will­ing. The only blem­ish on the Lexus’ re­sume is its too-light elec­tric steer­ing sys­tem, some­thing the Hyundai suf­fers from as well.

In­side, we also liked the new GS 350 AWD’s in­te­rior bet­ter. Its seats are more sup­port­ive, and the qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als and build qual­ity are typ­i­cal Lexus — top notch.

Over­all, the 2013 Lexus GS 350 AWD is the bet­ter sports lux­ury sedan for the money.

SEC­OND PLACE: 2013 HYUNDAI GE­N­E­SIS 5.0 R-SPEC

No doubt, the Hyundai has the “lux­ury” part of the sports lux­ury sedan equa­tion nailed. For its all-in $53,499 MSRP, you get a long list of good­ies (a rear sun­shade, up­graded sound sys­tem, nav­i­ga­tion, adap­tive cruise con­trol, a lane-de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tem, a cooled driver’s seat, and heated rear seats, etc.) that costs thou­sands more in the Lexus, and — of course — two more cylin­ders with a lot more power.

In­ter­est­ingly, though, de­spite hav­ing a 5.0-litre eight-cylin­der that gen­er­ates 123 hp and 99 pound feet of torque more than the V6 Lexus (and the req­ui­site higher fuel con­sump­tion), the Hyundai isn’t pro­por­tion­ally quicker. Its zero-to-100 km/h run is only half a sec­ond faster. We’ll blame the Ge­n­e­sis’ ex­tra weight and its eight-speed slush­box that changes gears slower than a melt­ing glacier.

Com­pared to the pre-2012 Ge­n­e­sis V8 models, the newer R-Spec adds larger front brakes, re­tuned steer­ing, and a beefier rear anti-roll bar. The re­sult is much-im­proved body and wheel con­trol, but with a ride that never gets overly harsh.

That isn’t meant to im­ply that the R-Spec is now a bona fide lux­ury sports sedan. Sure, its steer­ing is sharper and more re­spon­sive, but it still feels ar­ti­fi­cial. Any ex­tra cor­ner­ing or brak­ing grip the Hyundai’s 19-inch rub­ber (one inch larger than the Lexus) may prom­ise is washed away by its ex­tra weight.

Just as the GS 350 AWD de­liv­ers a quiet cabin and lux­u­ri­ous ride, the R-Spec is nearly silent when cruis­ing. But when you want to hus­tle the Hyundai, its wide and soft driver’s seat of­fers lit­tle sup­port, and although its in­te­rior is nearly the match of the Lexus for fit and fin­ish, many of the con­trols seem like ad­dons or af­ter­thoughts.

Lux­u­ri­ous, the Hyundai is. But sporty? Meh, not so much. TO SEE more Lexus GS 350 AWD and Hyundai Ge­n­e­sis R-Spec pho­tos and road tests, go to

OT­TAWAC­I­T­I­ZEN.COM

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 ?? PHO­TOS: JOHN LEBLANC/POST­MEDIA NEWS ?? The Lexus GS 350 AWD has top-notch in­te­rior and seat­ing.
PHO­TOS: JOHN LEBLANC/POST­MEDIA NEWS The Lexus GS 350 AWD has top-notch in­te­rior and seat­ing.
 ??  ?? Hyundai’s Ge­n­e­sis Sedan R-Spec has V8 power but ex­tra weight.
Hyundai’s Ge­n­e­sis Sedan R-Spec has V8 power but ex­tra weight.

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