Making its debut today at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show is the facelifted 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan, which is set to go on sale in late March with a new range-topping V-8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.

Hyundai has managed to make its multi-award winning luxury sedan even better, with exterior design improvements, new direct injection technology for its base Lambda V-6 engine, enhanced chassis tuning and the addition of the sporty 5.0 R-Spec model.

Hyundai’s most powerful engine ever
The heart of the new Genesis 5.0 R-Spec model is a 5.0-liter ‘Tau’ V-8 engine with direct injection technology producing 429 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 376 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Even with its extra displacement and performance, the 5.0-liter mill nearly matches the current 4.6 V-8 in fuel economy, returning an estimated 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway versus the 4.6’s 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

Sending drive to the rear wheels is Hyundai’s new in-house developed eight-speed automatic transmission. The two additional ratios help to enhance acceleration, shifting smoothness, and transmission efficiency by 6.0 percent over the former six-speed. The advanced transmission also gets paddle-shifters for pseudo manual control and is standard across the 2012 Hyundai Genesis range.

Eight-speed automatic standard on Genesis and Equus
Note that the 5.0-liter, eight-speed automatic drivetrain combo will be fitted as standard on the 2012 Hyundai Equus flagship sedan on sale this summer.

The Genesis 5.0 R-Spec, meanwhile, also gets more aggressive chassis tuning, with thicker stabilizer bars front and rear, custom 19 inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer performance tires, uprated brakes and sports calibrated steering.

To further differentiate the 5.0 R-Spec from the regular 4.6-liter Genesis are unique headlights with dark chrome inserts, R-Spec badging and custom floor mats.

2012 Hyundai Genesis

2012 Hyundai Genesis

Upgrades across the board
The 3.8-liter V-6 and 4.6-liter V-8 Genesis models get a series of updates as well, with recalibrated steering and suspension damping in addition to uprated brake packages. For 2012, the base V-6 Genesis is rated at 333 horsepower and returns a fuel economy of up to 29 mpg on the highway. The 4.6-liter V-8, meanwhile, delivers 385 horsepower and 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway fuel economy.

As mentioned, the 2012 Hyundai Genesis lineup gets some subtle styling updates. For the front view, the front grille has been enhanced, a more aggressive front fascia with larger intake openings was developed, and the headlights have been redesigned, adding LED accents and daytime running lights (DRLs).

From the side view, the standard 17 inch alloy wheel design has been freshened and the rocker panels have been refined. In addition, the mirrors now incorporate power-folding and puddle lamp functions, while the side window surround now receives a brushed aluminum finish. From the rear view, the tail lights have been redesigned and new exhaust tips fitted.

Stellar safety
Safety features include electronic stability control, eight airbags, electronic active head restraints, a lane departure warning system, parking sensors and a backup camera.

The new, facelifted 2012 Hyundai Genesis goes on sale in late March. In the meantime, check out our full coverage of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show by clicking here.