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Just because you don’t have $50,000 to spend on a new executive sports sedan doesn’t mean you are destined to be stuck with either one of those “low lease rate specials” or a car that handles corners about as well as maple syrup. Really, don’t go try and hang yourself with your tie.

The reason for all this hope is the simple fact that 2010 is one of the best ever years to be an “entry-level” luxury car shopper. Not only are there the usual suspects from Audi and BMW but Acura has unleashed a high-power V6 variant of its TSX while Hyundai (yes, them) has also dipped its toe in the shark infested waters of the new luxury car market. Now, who makes the most fun to drive, high value luxury sedan in 2010?

2010 Hyundai Genesis V6
The mere fact that the Genesis is being mentioned in the same breath with these world class luxury machines is complement enough. For a first time engineering effort the Genesis is truly exemplary thanks to clean (albeit totally unoriginal) styling and an impressively smooth engine/transmission combination.

Yes, luxury sedan buyers may want leather, navigation, premium audio and but that doesn’t also mean they don’t know a bargain when they see one. Starting at $33,000 for a base-level 3.8 liter V6 290 horsepower model, you can still add quite a few thousand to the Genesis base price by optioning navigation, Lexicon audio, opulent leather lined dash or even a V8.

A pretty well loaded V6 Genesis with all the essential options will probably set you back at least $35,000 but that isn’t bad when you consider how Lexus-like this luxury sedan is in feel and the fact that it has a ten year/100,000 mile warranty on the powertrain. While the interior is refreshingly free of clutter and was designed with really easily readable dials and gauges, Hyundai still has a little way to go before it masters the art of realistic-looking wood trim.

While this next characteristic may appeal to a certain demographic of driver (Lexus owners) who prefers the feel of low effort power steering, the steering rack of the Genesis sedan package is where it falls somewhat flat. Despite what some may say you CAN engineer steering with lots of feel AND low effort for supermarket maneuvers. The Acura TSX V6 proves that theory.

The last problem is truly an unfortunate one as the Hyundai Genesis really is a great luxury sedan. The problem will always be that the Genesis is still a Hyundai and you will have to service it at Hyundai dealers used to Elantra owners. These things mean something to a lot of the luxury car buying audience. When they buy a luxury car they buy into the brand, as well. Sadly, I think what the Genesis needs most is a new badge on the trunk.

2010 Audi A4 2.0T
While the 2010 A4 may sound like a bargain with a starting price at a bit over $31,000, if you really want the best Audi for your dollar you will have to cough up some more coin for Quattro all-wheel drive, navigation, the sport package with leather/alcantara seats and much more. There are infinite ways to specify your A4 and thanks to that fully loaded models do get pricey.

The 2010 A4 is powered exclusively by a recently updated 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder that now pumps out 211 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque. No matter what the specs tell you, the A4 never feels anything less than blisteringly quick and nimble when optioned with either a manual transmission (standard), six-speed double clutch auto (Quattro models) or CVT automatic (front drive models only and best avoided).

The A4 also has one of the most gloriously tactile luxury car interiors on the planet. Yet to truly enjoy it fully you do have to option it liberally. That means your entry level A4 can easily crack $40,000 on its way to $45,000. But the minute you sit inside your brand new 2010 Audi A4 you will realize that each and every penny was worth it.

2010 BMW 328i
In a sense, this lesser powered brother of the 300 horsepower 335i may actually be the purer BMW thanks in part to it probably being one of the last non-turbocharged models from this automaker. It may have a horsepower rating of “only” 230 horses but that is more than sufficient to keep any owner of this entry level Beemer grinning for years.

The turbo in the 335i also somehow blunts the unique melody that the standard inline-6 engine makes when being pushed to the rev-limiter by a snickety-smooth manual transmission or lightning quick automatic. Unlike most engines, the 6 in the 328i is never harsh and somehow sounds a bit like the orchestrated music that you hear on the classical channel of XM. That is, if you pay attention hard enough.

Starting at $33,150, the 3-Series styling may be starting to look a bit old-hat now but that still can’t take away from the fact that this rear-drive sports sedan is a hoot to drive. Steering, while heavy at low speeds, is laser precise and the handling is simply divine. If you are looking for fun and don’t need your luxury car to be insanely practical (thanks to a slightly cramped rear seat), you could do a lot worse than the 328i. Beware, however, the options list is massive and 328i models can turn expensive on you real fast.

2010 Acura TSX V6
When the $34,850 Acura TSX V6 was first released it was only made available with (a still rather revvy and powerful) four cylinder engine option. Apparently that is a no-no to the buying public unless you add a turbo, so Acura kindly took the V6 from big-brother TL and shoe-horned it into the engine bonnet. And voila! You have car making magic.

While that may not seem like the most romantic recipe for automotive magic there is something about the Acura TSX V6 that elevates it above its like-priced competition. The TSX V6 not only has a 3.5 liter 280 horsepower V6 that is smoother, reviver and more powerful than the competition but it also is far more lavishly equipped as standard. Acura dealers keep it simple and sell their cars one way: fully loaded.

More specifically Acura lets you choose colors and whether or not you want the “technology package.” While adding that package does elevate the price to a little over $37,000, it does add the world’s easiest to use in dash navigation system with real-time traffic and weather as well as a 415-watt ELS audio system that will simply blow your mind.

Stylistically the TSX is one of Acura’s finest looking examples to date thanks to its creased lines and pert rear trunk line. Interior space is ample, controls are easy to understand and manipulate and the build quality is exemplary. This is the luxury car to buy if you want to keep it for ten years.

The reason? Not only will you fall in love with the TSX V6 for its utilitarian and stylistic virtues but you will also love the way it steers, handles and drives. The 2010 Acura TSX V6 is simply the best entry-level luxury car on the market today when you consider all of this as a whole.
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