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    Three Stylish Cars, But Only One Knocks Your Cap Back

    autoStyle. They say we gays know it well.

    I recently tested three cars that are loaded with style, each in their own way. The ELR is Cadillac’s first plug-in hybrid; the Volkswagen Beetle R-Line goes for turbo sportiness, and the Hyundai Genesis brings its own element of surprise.

    First, the ELR. Cadillac gambled that it had built up its brand equity to command an eye-watering $81K for the test car, and the fact that the ELR is selling less than 100 per month means that hasn’t. The fact that “Tesla” came up whenever I said the price also means that it hasn’t. The ELR is a car to wait out until its asking prices align with its perceived value.

    car1If the ELR were priced at $50K, it would be a common sight. Its styling and interior quality are rich, and it handles well. Just don’t expect much from the battery-only mode in hilly SF. I went only 17 miles until depletion, while a journalist cohort in Palm Springs claimed 40 miles on a charge in that hot and flat clime.

    The ELR’s styling was compelling enough to have attracted more hot men to my test car than any in recent memory; its sharp lines electrified everyone around it. The ELR places Cadillac closer to the cutting edge than it’s ever been, but it is confined for now by its overreaching price.

    The $31K Beetle R-Line is full of good looks and masculine tendencies. If you’ve driven a turbo VW in the last decade, then you know this car, with its smooth shifter, compliant clutch, strong brakes and gel-like suspension feel. You have to throw a lot at the Beetle before it trips up. That depth of response is always nice.

    car2Not so nice is that this fancy R-Line rang up at $31K, with still with no USB or backup camera. The R-Line’s bold wheels and sharp body detailing look good, but one can appreciate the goodness of the Beetle while still opting for a lower-spec trim in the mid-$20K range, which is where I’d buy it.

    The redesigned Hyundai Genesis 5.0, on the other hand, feels worth every dollar of its $55K test price, and maybe more. It is striking: the Genesis grabbed both gay and straight gazes as it rolled through the Castro.

    You can limit yourself to Audi, BMW and Mercedes in your premium sedan choices, but you’re missing out if you pass over this Hyundai, because it frankly alarms you with its supple combination of comfort and strength. Outside, the Genesis’s lines are tightly limned; inside, it’s beefy and textured. Engine thrust is almighty, and handling is confident.

    Given the heritages of these brands, it’s ironic that it’s most plausible to pay $55K for this Hyundai than to pay $81K for the Cadillac or $31K for the Volkswagen. All three get attention, but the Hyundai knocks your cap back. It reminds you that the element of surprise powers the most unforgettable styles.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant at www.gaycarguy.com. Check out his automotive staging service at www.carstaging.com