Today, I’ve decided to join a debate on Oppositelock that rages at least once every day. No, I’m not talking about what theme will rule over the day. Or what suspension setup is best for a Toyobaru or a Miata. Or the barrage of advice that results when someone asks what car they should buy? (In instances like those, I follow the great Doug DeMuro’s philosophy.)
Instead, I’ve ventured into the argument of what is the most underrated car on sale today.
This is a post which will undoubtedly lead to halfhearted debates (on my part) between me and much of the diehard people on Oppositelock (Opposite-lockers?) which will end up with me admitting that the Miata, a car favored by people who think they’re autocross aces, is the most underrated car. But they’re wrong.
That’s because I’ve driven the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. And my goodness, it’s fantastic. It can eat up the highway at high speeds, can summon up the torque to pass those numerous BMW 3-Series/Audi A4s/Mercedes C-Classes that clog the left lane in the Bay Area, while still being comfortable and looking classy, all for under $47,000.
A 528i is incapable of doing that. So is any Audi A6 or Mercedes E550 (which only gets 4Matic here, so it can't do smoky burnouts). A 300C SRT8, though faster and more expensive, is ticket bait, since after all, Walter White did own one. And the worst part: people know what all those cars are.
People on the highway will not know what this car is. When other motorists call you in for breaking the speed limit, they won't know how to describe your car. The guy in the E36 3-Series won't know what hit him when you merge into the left lane before he does. That woman in the S4 who thought she could beat me off the line at a stoplight looked incredulous. Try doing any of that in a Miata.
In fact, it reminded me of a Mercedes-Benz 500E. This is a comment which will go down in Jalopnik infamy. And I will defend that comment until the day I die, like my proclamation that the Jetta TDI doesn’t deserve its manual.
Like the 500E, the Genesis really isn't that much of a handler (it is a mistake to take a 500E on a winding country road, I guarantee that you won't enjoy it), but on the highway when you put your foot down, the Genesis goes with the same intensity as a 500E. And the Hyundai's build quality is definitely on par with that of the Mercedes.
Also, like the 500E, most people on the highway won't know what it actually is, just like the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. Honestly, you could park either car in the driveway and passersby would think they both were some sort of Mercedes.
And now, I will try to convince you to even consider the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec by using some tricks out of the Consumer Reports playbook. For instance, the Hyundai can run on regular gasoline, presumably to acknowledge that Hyundai customers can still be cheap. It has a fantastic sound system, heated/cooled seats, and even a Lane Departure Warning system all standard, perhaps because Hyundai still needs to be Hyundai. And you can easily find one for thousands off MSRP since no one ever thinks of the 5.0 R-Spec.
But most importantly, it has a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Absolutely no other fast car can match that. No one. Not the Germans, who would rather say "Why don't you lease the car? Your maintenance costs won't be that high." (Or in the case of BMW and VW, stress the free maintenance during the lease period.) The Japanese will promote their J.D. Power ratings and politely decline. The Americans will pull the most aggressive sale of a third-party extended warranty you've ever seen.
The Hyundai powertrain warranty is better than any warranty you can get from CarMax. You won't even have to pay extra for a warranty on top of a non-negotiable price for a CarMax vehicle. And there's no way a Genesis will introduce you to a world of wallet hurt like a V-10 M5 (even with MaxCare) will.
In the end, with the potential to be mistaken for everything else but a Hyundai, a powerful engine, and everyone always overlooking it when car shopping despite impressive discounts, the Genesis 5.0 R-Spec is the most underrated car on sale.
It's too bad nobody notices. They all buy Miatas.
Satish Kondapavulur runs Clunkerture, named because "Clunker.com" was $82 at auction and would've taken 30% out of the balance of his Eagle Vision for LeMons fund. In between contemplating cross-country runs, he spends much of his time attempting to convince others that his MkV Jetta 2.0T Wolfsburg is indeed a sports sedan.
Image credit Hyundai.