Showing posts with label Hyndai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hyndai. Show all posts

Monday, 18 April 2011

Review: 2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan V6

Automakers have been carving the luxury segment into finer and finer slices for generations. Territory that once belonged solely to the likes of Mercury, Buick and Oldsmobile is now the fertile hunting grounds of brands from Acura to Infiniti. Thanks to these relative newcomers, buyers without the cash to jump into Bavarian marks like BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi can still plant their derrières on supple leather thrones without having to sell the family farm in the process.

Three years ago, Hyundai leapt into the low-buck luxury fray with the company’s Genesis Sedan – a vehicle that was intended to prove the Korean automaker could strut its stuff up market without the burden of launching a separate dedicated luxury brand just for the occasion. We were impressed with the big Hyundai when it touched down three years ago as a 2009 model, but domestic automakers like Buick and Chrysler have since sharpened their game in a big way. We jumped behind the wheel of the 2011 Genesis Sedan to find out how the vehicle’s first generation has held up before the updated second one arrives as a 2012 model.

Hyundai decided to wade into luxury waters just as the automotive market’s well began to run dry, and in 2009, the company managed to move around 20,000 Genesis Sedan and Coupe units combined – about half its initial sales projections at the time. As industry-wide numbers have begun to clamber back to their pre-fall heights, Genesis sales have increased accordingly, though we have a feeling the figures still haven’t managed to snag that magical 40,000-50,000 unit mark originally imagined by the Hyundai hive-mind.

That’s likely no fault of the vehicle’s styling, though. There’s no denying that the 2011 Genesis Sedan still carries the same high-brow presence of its forebearers thanks largely to one massive, stylized rib-cage grille. Hyundai still hasn’t set about slapping a big H on the hood, and from the front, uninitiated onlookers may have a hard time discerning the vehicle from the Lexus GS bloodline. From the side, the vehicle borrows cues from BMW’s styling department with wrapped headlights and taillights as well as a shark-fin antenna. Large ovular exhaust exits dominate the lower rear fascia and a single Hyundai badge on the rear trunk deck is the only indication that this beast comes from anywhere other than Japan.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan side view2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan front view2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan rear view

When the Genesis Sedan debuted, it came packing an interior that was several light years ahead of what Hyundai had turned out in the past. Dominated by plenty of excellent stitching, perforated leather and attractive wood accents, the cabin made it clear that the Korean sedan wasn’t playing around. Since then, the cockpit has received few updates, and while still a nice enough place to spend time, interiors from both Buick and Chrysler have finally gotten a chance to play catch-up.

Both of those automakers have suddenly taken this whole auto manufacturing thing seriously, and as a result, vehicles like the 2011 Buick Lacrosse and Chrysler 300 are now available with cabins that can easily eclipse the Genesis in terms of design and quality, at least for a price. And that’s one point that the Genesis Sedan still has on the lower-luxury domestic marks. The Korean four-door comes standard with heated and cooled leather seats up front, slightly raised seating out back with plenty of legroom and wood grain trim throughout as well as tech treats like adaptive cruise control and dual-zone automatic temperature control for a mere $33,000 plus an $850 destination charge.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan interior2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan front seats2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan gauges2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan dash trim

If you want those goodies in either the Lacrosse or the 300, expect to pay similar money. Opting for the leather-clad nicety of the TriShield will see you staring at an MSRP of $33,765 plus destination for the Lacrosse CXS, while the 2011 Chrysler 300 Limited comes to the dance wearing a price tag of $31,995 including destination. Don’t expect to find heated or cooled seats or dual-zone climate control from the 300, though.

The only place that the Genesis sedan really shows its age is in its dated interior lighting and flimsy switches, most notably for the heated and cooled seats and window mechanisms. Whereas both Buick and Chrysler have made sure to incorporate solid-feeling interfaces, the Hyundai simply doesn’t pack the same feel of quality.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan instrument panel2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 6 DVD changer2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan shifter2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan multimedia system controls

Our tester came with the company’s lively 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission that shuffles power to the rear wheels. With 290 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque on hand, the six-cylinder has no problem moving the vehicle’s 3,748-pound curb weight along, especially given the EPA’s fuel economy rating of 18 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway. During our time behind the wheel we saw around 23 mpg combined.

Those numbers put the Genesis Sedan 10 horsepower ahead of the 3.6-liter V6 found in the Lacrosse CXS and just two horsepower behind the same displacement V6 in the Chrysler 300. Interestingly enough, fuel economy for all three vehicles is nearly identical at 22-22.5 mpg combined.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan engine

With that in mind, it’s easy to get the impression that all three of these vehicles are neck-and-neck contenders, but that reality fades from view after a little time behind the wheel. Hyundai still has an excellent driver in the Genesis thanks largely to the vehicle’s front-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration. Plop your foot on the accelerator and the big four door moves forward without any of the scrambling drama of the front-wheel-drive Lacrosse.

But make no mistake, this isn’t a sports sedan by any stretch of the imagination, although acceleration is more than ample and handling is predictable without being twitchy. Jump onto the interstate and the Genesis delivers a quiet cabin free of engine, tire or wind noise, and the six-speed automatic transmission has no problem landing on the correct gear for hard-throttle passes.

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan rear 3/4 view

Hyundai curiously provides flappy paddles for making your way through the six cogs in the gearbox should you get bored letting the vehicle’s ECU do all the work. The transmission delivers fairly rapid shifts, though the trickery doesn’t do much to lend the sedan any of the sporting tones of its two-door twin. We’re guessing that the paddles are significantly more at home with the optional 385-horsepower V8 engine and ZF six-speed transmission.

Despite showing a few gray hairs here and there, the 2011 Genesis Sedan is still more than capable of holding its own in the budget luxury market. While its heaps of standard equipment and nicely appointed interior are all strong points on its résumé, the Genesis still holds one massive trump card over its competition – a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty. While we can’t wait to drive next year’s Genesis R-Spec with its 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, the current model is a no-worry ace.

[Source: autoblog]

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Review: 2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate

My roommate – bless her heart – is about as much of a car enthusiast as the BMW X6 is a coupe. She puts forth an honest effort to hold conversations with me about autos, but 90 percent of the time, it just doesn’t work. You have to understand, in her eyes, a Cadillac Escalade is the pinnacle of luxury, the fastest car in the world has to be a Ferrari and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is fitted with “those squeezy seats.” She’s still amazed by the power of Bluetooth and always gets wide-eyed whenever I plunk a car into Reverse and a rear-view camera comes on.

That in mind, it will come as no surprise to learn that when the 2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate arrived at my door, she beckoned from the other room, “Hey, I think your Lexus just showed up.”

It’s like she had already drank the proverbial Kool-Aid. Hyundai wants everyone to believe that its new luxury flagship is capable of doing everything that a Lexus LS does, but at a much lower price. And while there are a few swing-and-miss things to note about the Equus experience, what Hyundai has done here is create a truly bona-fide luxury car capable of standing toe-to-toe with its Japanese competition and coming pretty darn close to the likes of its lofty German rivals.

But will we simply boast that the Equus – Hyundai’s most expensive car to date – is a good value, or does it possess enough content and engineering prowess to truly stand out amongst its highly regarded classmates?

“That’s a big Hyundai.”

The Equus uses a stretched version of Hyundai’s rear-wheel-drive BH platform – the same one that underpins the smaller Genesis sedan. At 203.1 inches long, the Equus adds 7.2 inches to the length of a Genesis, riding on a wheelbase that’s been stretched by 4.3 inches. Width hasn’t changed in creating the longer-wheelbase flagship, but the Equus is 0.4 inches taller than its little sister and rides on 19-inch chrome rollers as standard stock.

From the side profile, the Equus is a relatively modest-looking, yet attractive sedan. There’s a strong horizontal character line that stems from the front wheel well and fades just before the C-pillar, where an arched line draws your eye up over the rear wheel, accenting the upward slant of the greenhouse.

We must say, though – there’s a whole lot going on from the dead front view. The hood and grille shape references that of the smaller Genesis, but the bug-eyed HID headlamps, large LED turn signal strips and added chrome trim are a bit off-putting at first. After a while, you get used to the flashy face. It’s an interesting contrast to the car’s rear, which is sedate yet handsome, with LED taillamps, chrome strips to match the ones up front and large exhaust ports that are nicely integrated into the lower valence.

2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate side view2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate front view2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate rear view

Interior refinement on the Equus is exactly what you’d expect for a proper luxury flagship, though there are a few small omissions. We aren’t talking about big stuff here – little amenities like power lumbar adjustment for the front passenger seat, side bolster adjustments for the front chairs or a one-touch close feature for the sunroof, for example. Still, our Ultimate-spec tester’s cabin arrived positively lousy with bells and whistles – niceties like a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled seats all around, a refrigerator in the rear console, power sunshades and a rear entertainment system.

What separates the Ultimate from the base Equus is its rear seating configuration, ditching the three-passenger bench seat in favor of two chairs with a fixed center console. The rear passenger-side chair – the one we’ve named the “executive throne” – even has massage and recline functions. If you ever have the chance to sit in a four-passenger Equus, we highly recommend spending no less than five minutes exploring the features of the royalty seat. Be warned, though – even with the Equus’ longer wheelbase over the Genesis, those rear seats don’t offer as much legroom as you might think.

The thing we like best about the Equus’ interior is that it isn’t as overwhelming as some of its competitors. There’s no second-guessing of buttons, there’s no scanning for control knobs and there aren’t so many different levels of functionality that the whole setup needs to come with an instruction manual. Take the infotainment system, for example – it is controlled by a single knob on the center console, sort of like BMW’s iDrive or COMAND from Mercedes-Benz, but because of the added layer of buttons around the large dial, it’s easy to operate. Still, the graphics look a little outdated to us, especially when you consider the beautifully colored displays from Audi or BMW.

Fit and finish is superb, though the Equus often feels more like a big Genesis than a wholly different level of exclusivity. Sure, the Genesis’ interior is plenty good, but the cabin – especially in front – still has the feeling that it was designed for Korean tastes and not American sensibilities. The switchgear is exactly what you’d expect to see in every other Hyundai, and other minor details like the relatively flat-bottomed seats and thin steering wheel are more proof that the automaker targeted cushier bogeys like the Lexus LS and not sportier offerings like the 7-Series.

2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate interior2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate car settings2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate multimedia system control knob2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate rear seat center console

The only available engine for 2011 is Hyundai’s 4.6-liter Tau V8, pumping out 385 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque in this application. It doesn’t quite put its power to the ground with the same level of grace or involvement as the European-engineered cars, but unsurprisingly, driving the Equus is similar to the experience you get in a Lexus LS. It’s buttery smooth, refined and is more concerned with being comfortable than engaging.

Things will likely change once the Equus receives Hyundai’s new 429-hp, direct-injected 5.0-liter V8, but even with the current 4.6-liter powerplant, we never once wished for more grunt. The Equus is indeed at a disadvantage against its German rivals, only because the majority of them now use turbocharged eight-cylinder setups that are super-torquey down low.

2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate engine

Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of numbness when it comes to steering and braking. When moving the tiller from side to side, we wish there were a lot more on-center feeling that doesn’t correlate to the random bouts of heaviness felt as you really pull into a turn. It’s very non-linear in this regard, and if Hyundai wants to truly compete with all of the globe’s luxury sedans someday, it had better work on improving this behind-the-wheel experience.

For the majority of non-enthusiastic drivers, the Equus motoring experience will be pleasant. It’s eerily quiet while moving down the road, the six-speed automatic transmission does a fine job of firing off shifts with a sense of urgency and the suspension damping is soft yet appropriate in this sort of barge. The adjustable air-assisted suspension is one of the best parts about the Equus experience – not only because it does things like automatically tweak the suspension damping based on road condition or lowers the car when cruising over 70 mph, but that you don’t have to push any buttons for the adjustments to happen.

2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate grille2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate wheel detail2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate badge2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate exhaust system

There’s a Sport mode, activated by a button just to the right of the gear lever, but its adjustments to the transmission’s shift schedule aren’t great for around-town cruising. Even on the highway, when left to its normal devices, the six-speed tranny has no problem kicking down for high-speed passing.

“So, what is it, like, 80 grand?”

Far, far less. Even in the fully decked-out Ultimate trim, the Equus’ price tag will go no higher than $65,400, including destination and delivery charges. You want a Lexus LS 460? Add over $5,000 to that tag. And if you insist on shelling out for German engineering, be prepared to spend anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 more for comparably equipped cars.

2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate rear 3/4 view

What’s more, we can’t overlook the benefits of Hyundai’s exclusive dealership (or lack thereof) experience for Equus owners. When routine maintenance is needed, reach for the included Apple iPad in your glove box, queue up the service app and wait for technicians to collect your Equus from your home or office, leaving you a different Equus or Genesis sedan as a loaner car. When the work is done, the dealership will swap the cars back again. None of the competitors – German or Japanese – offer that.

If Hyundai continues on its current pace, it will only be a matter of time before it is widely regarded as highly as other major automakers in every segment in which it competes. Will my roommate ever tell me that my Hyundai has arrived when a Lexus LS shows up at my door? Probably not. But as long as non-enthusiasts can be convinced that the Equus is up to snuff to take on the Japanese big guns, Hyundai’s path to righteousness will continue to be paved.

[Source: autoblog]

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Frankfurt 2009: Hyundai ix-Metro concept

Hyundai ix-Metro concept

Hyundai returned to Frankfurt a far bigger player than it was two years prior. The Korean company has leapt up the sales standings to become the world's fourth largest automaker, eclipsing such major players as Ford and Honda. And its product line has long since expanded from diminutive hatchbacks to include crossovers and luxury sedans. What better way, then, to mark its newfound stature than to unveil... a diminutive hatchback/crossover thing?

Of course, Hyundai also unveiled the new ix35 Tucson, but presented along side was the automaker's vision for a compact hybrid. Called the ix Metro, it may be about the same size as the Geo that once bore the same name, but packs more curves and creases into the same plot of real estate than a linen mill. Curiously, Hyundai hasn't provided any details on the electric component of the hybrid drivetrain, but the conventional side of the equation boasts direct injection, variable valve timing and a turbocharger in a tiny 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, driving through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.


Hyundai's Eco-Technologies and Products on Display at 2009 Frankfurt Show

Frankfurt, Germany, 09/15/2009
• ix-Metro, a daring new Hybrid Electric CUV
• i10 electric zero-emissions vehicle
• European debut of ix35

At the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show today, Hyundai Motor Co. unveiled two important eco-friendly cars in a display of its commitment to improve energy efficiency and to lower greenhouse gas emissions of its vehicles.

Making its world debut was the ix-Metro, a daring new Hybrid Electric CUV for the European sub-B segment. Emitting just 80g/km of CO2, the ix-Metro is powered by an inline three-cylinder petrol engine displacing just one-liter. Direct injection, dual CVVT, and turbocharging are combined with a six-speed dual clutch transmission to make for a highly potent compact package. It's the fifth in a series of concept cars to be created by the Global Design Team in Namyang, Korea.

The other global premiere was the i10 Electric, a production-ready zero emissions vehicle. Powered by a 49kW motor and a 16kWh battery, the i10 Electric promises a driving range of 160km and top speed of 130km/h. It features x-by-wire systems for steering, air conditioning, water pump and the brake vacuum pump. The i10 Electric will see limited series production start in Korea in 2010 for pilot fleet demonstration purposes with government ministries, utilities and related agencies.

In his address to the audience which gathered to catch the unveiling of the two concept cars, Hyundai Vice Chairman Euisun Chung said: "Blue Drive is all about bold new thinking, about listening more carefully to what consumers are saying and what they really want. Our declared goal is bold: It's to be the industry's eco-leader."

These and other new eco-friendly models were on display in the Blue Drive Zone at the Hyundai booth. The Zone also included the Elantra LPI Hybrid and the Blue Will Plug-In Hybrid Electric concept vehicle. The Elantra LPI is the world's first hybrid electric vehicle to be powered by liquid petroleum gas (or autogas). Emitting just 94g/km of CO2 (European combined mode), it's also the first production car in the world to be powered by advanced lithium ion polymer batteries. A new Blue edition of Hyundai's highly popular i30, designed in Germany and built in the Czech Republic, was another highlight of the Blue Drive Zone. Featuring fuel-saving stop-and-go emissions reduction technology, the ISG system contributes towards a reduction of 7% in fuel consumption and vehicle emissions on the official combined cycle, compared to the standard cars. Tests have revealed a drop in CO2 emissions of up to 15% in heavily congested traffic.

Visitors to the Hyundai stand at Hall Six in Frankfurt Messe were the first to get a closer look at the ix35, the European version of the all-new Tucson which made its debut in the Korean market last month. Designed in Europe and to be built in Europe, the ix35 is the first production vehicle expressing Hyundai's new "fluidic sculpture" design language. It's fitted with the all-new R 2.0 diesel and six-speed automatic transmission.

Also on display was the updated Santa Fe which will provide fresh momentum to the CUV sector. It is fitted with a 2.2 version of the all-new R diesel and comes with the option of the new six-speed automatic.

Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Co. has grown into the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group which was ranked as the world's fifth-largest automaker since 2007 and includes over two dozen auto-related subsidiaries and affiliates. Employing over 75,000 people worldwide, Hyundai Motor sold approximately 2.8 million vehicles globally in 2008, posting sales of US$25.6 billion on a non-consolidated basis (using the average currency exchange of 1257.5 won per US dollar). Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 6,000 dealerships and showrooms. Further information about Hyundai Motor and its products are available at

Frankfurt 2009: Hyundai Tucson ix35

Hyundai Tucson ix35

The new Hyundai Tucson ix35 may look good with a Britney Spears soundtrack playing in the background. It may even look good out on the road. But under the bright lights here at the Frankfurt Messe, it looks pretty much like every other compact import crossover on the market. Which is to say, attractive, but rather cookie-cutter.

The new Tucson is being offered overseas with 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines burning either gasoline or diesel (with 166 and 184 horsepower, respectively) and driving either the front wheels or all four through a six-speed automatic slushbox. Among the latest features, Hyundai included are Downhill Brake Control and Hill-Start Assist Control, which almost makes us mistake this for a real sport-utility vehicle.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Hyundai Genesis Sedan - The most awarded car of 2009?

Hyundai Genesis Sedan

When the Hyundai Genesis Sedan hit the scene, it was hard to know exactly what to think of the handsome-if-anonymous looking luxury intender. After all, Hyundai hadn't ever had a presence in our luxury car market, and attributes like rear-wheel drive and V8 engines weren't exactly a Hyundai staple. Over the past year, however, the Genesis' well-judged appointments and recession-friendly pricing Genesis Sedan won us over, and our contemporaries in the motoring press seem to feel the same way.

Hyundai says that the Genesis Sedan's considerable trophy case makes it the most awarded car of 2009 – and since we have no methodology by which to cross-checking such a high-falutin' claim (scientific or otherwise) we're going to give the Korean automaker the benefit of the doubt. The Hyundai Genesis Sedan began 2009 as the North American Car Of The Year and the well-heeled sedan has continued to build momentum with an impressive 21 awards. Among the Genesis Sedan's many honors are nods from Motor Trend (America's Top 40 New Cars),, J.D. Power, NADAGuides, and AutoPacific.

Heck, the Genesis' 375 horsepower Tau 4.6-liter V8 also made Wards Automotive's 10 Best Engines list, and after putting down nearly 2,000 miles in just such a beast earlier this month, AB executive editor Paukert concurs, praising the eight's smooth power delivery and impressive mileage. Despite a packed cabin and trunk and plenty of mountain driving and high-speed cruising, our man averaged 26.1 MPG on a circuitous route from Michigan to North Carolina – fully 1.1 MPG better than the EPA says to expect on the freeway. He also praised the car's acheless seats and pleasing Lexicon audio system as excellent long-distance travel partners.

Hit the jump to read the press release listing the Genny's awards cache. What follows is a proud parent brag-fest, but when you get it right like Hyundai appears to have done with its Genesis Sedan, perhaps a little self-promoting is merited. Maybe now they'll see fit to finally take credit for it by putting a "Hyundai" badge somewhere on the car

[Source: Hyundai]


Hyundai Genesis is class of the 2009 model year with most top-car honors

Headlined by the 2009 North American Car of the Year Award, Hyundai's New Flagship Earns More Top Recognition than Any Other 2009 Introduction

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., August 27, 2009 – Hyundai's all-new flagship, the Genesis sedan, launched to significant anticipation culminating with its coronation as the 2009 North American Car of the Year – the first time a Korean brand has ever achieved the honor. But Genesis didn't stop there, accumulating honor after prestigious honor to become the most decorated new car launch of the 2009 model year. At last count, Genesis tallied more than 20 top honors from the most prominent media outlets and automotive organizations in North America.

Genesis' trophy case includes awards and accolades from the likes of J.D. Power and Associates, Motor Trend, AutoPacific, and leading consumer publications. Genesis is built on Hyundai's all-new, performance-driven rear-wheel-drive architecture. It offers two powertrains, the Lambda 3.8-liter V6 engine producing 290 hp, and Hyundai's all-new Tau 4.6-liter V8 engine producing 375 hp. With technology rivaling more expensive luxury sedans, convenience features like push-button start and navigation system, and five-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), it's clear that Genesis is among the best new cars of 2009. But at a starting MSRP of just $32,250 and max price of just $42,000 for a fully loaded Genesis, it's no surprise the competition was left in Hyundai's rear-view mirror.

"Genesis was developed to rival the world's best luxury sedans so we knew it would be a great car, but we didn't know how it would be received by the automotive community," said Scott Margason, director of Product & Strategic Planning for Hyundai. "As the awards accumulated, we realized not only how well designed the Genesis was, but how far the Hyundai brand had come. Consumers and automotive industry influencers really embraced the idea of Hyundai producing a luxury product."
Genesis Sedan Awards

1. 2009 North America Car of the Year
2. Motor Trend – America's Top 40 New Cars
3. J.D. Power and Associates – Automotive, Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) - Most appealing midsize premium car
4. J.D. Power and Associates – Vehicle Launch Index (VLI) - Highest ranked 2009 all-new or redesigned vehicle
5. The Car Book 2009 – Best Bet (intermediate category)
6. – Best New Car
7. Kiplinger's Personal Finance – Best New Model (sedans $30,000-$45,000)
8. – Car of the Month (April)
9. – Top 5 Luxury Cars
10. – Best Car Buy - Top luxury cars under $35,000
11. – Car of the Year
12. – Car of the Year
13. On Wheels – Car of the Year
14. AutoPacific – Ideal Vehicle Awards - Aspirational Luxury Category
15. AutoPacific –Vehicle Satisfaction Awards - Aspirational Luxury Category
16. Consumer Reports – Top-Rated Vehicle (upscale sedan category)
17. Consumer Digest – Best Buy (luxury segment)
18. MyRide/Autobytel – Car of the Year
19. Ward's Auto World – 10 Best Engines (4.6 liter Tau V8)
20. Automobile Journalists Association of Canada – Canadian Car of the Year
21. Automobile Journalists Association of Canada – Best New Luxury Vehicle Under $50,000


Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 780 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, Hyundai Assurance is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Hyundai Equus is a high horse looking for its Praetorian Guard

Hyundai Equus

The Hyundai Equus is doing its homework on the American market before it arrives in the fourth quarter of 2010. We took a ride in the upscale sedan during the Pebble Beach weekend in Monterey, and from our brief time aboard, we guess that, if it's priced right, it will do just as well as its only-slightly-less luxurious kin, the Genesis.

Hyundai looks to be breaking from its American past in a way that could leave future drivers incredulous when they hear about a thing called the Excel. With the Genesis and now the Equus – and what's to come after – it's like Hyundai has risen from vaudeville actor to perform Hamlet for the queen. If you told the monarch who only knew the actor as Hamlet, "You know, that guy used to wear a clown suit and get sprayed with seltzer water?," she'd laugh, thinking it was a joke.

But it isn't. When we asked Jim Trainor, Hyundai America's head of PR, what impelled the company's turnaround, he said it was the 100,000-mile warranty. "If we didn't want to lose a fortune on repairs, we had to start making quality cars."

In the Equus is contained everything Hyundai knows about quality. Said Joel Ewanick, Hyundai America's marketing chief, "The Equus is the culmination, the pinnacle of everything Hyundai knows about engineering and building cars," and that's from the manufacturing all the way through to the touchpoints.

"Lexus" could be the word that comes up most often when discussing the Equus, and there is more than one reason for that. However, for all of the styling details that the huge horse might have taken from the Lexus playbook, the Equus actually didn't remind us of the LS 460 in person – and while we waited for the Hyundai to arrive, we sat on a bench right in front of an LS 460 parked curbside. The Equus is brawnier, with deeper sides, a more pronounced shift in height from front to rear, and elements that stress its dimensional qualities. As soon as the Lexus left our sight, we never thought of it again in the company of the Equus.

The convenient hook for the Genesis was BMW 7-Series roominess and luxury, 5-Series sportiness, and a 3-Series price. The Equus simply goes for everything 7-Series, S-Class, and LS, save for price. Ultimate-in-luxury features include butter-smooth leather all over, a suede headliner, double-pane glass all 'round sandwiching a layer of glazing material (à la Rolls-Royce), an Auto Hold feature that keeps the car still until you press the accelerator (even on flat roads), a front-view camera that comes on at or below 5 mph, a lane-departure warning system that works with white and yellow lines and tugs on your seatbelt after an audible warning, the steering wheel is heated and the front seats have three settings for backside warming and cooling.

The only two questionable features that stood out for were that the front passenger seat doesn't have memory settings, and how certain plastic surfaces are textured. As for the seats, if it's any consolation, the rear seat passenger can move the front seat, surely a concession to the car's strong limousine aspirations in its home market. On the issue of plastic, we'd rather the surfaces were smooth, as they are on all of the competitor cars at which the Equus is aiming.

We can't really comment on the suspension because the car was fitted with the South Korean setup, which is much softer than what we'll get here, even when set on Sport. But as for interior tactile sensations, the car is really there, especially when it comes to the buttons and trim. The contrast of gloss black button surfaces, metal trim and leather is superb. Again, since we were in the Korean-market Equus, we weren't able to sample a lot of the buttons, but they look fabulous.

The laminated windows and bodyshell stuffed with sound deadening material makes the Equus exceptionally quiet. You can hear the car when driving, but only just. At idle, it's damn near silent – we turned the car off, thinking it was on, when we got in.

Other details will follow, including the car's official name. So where the word "Equus" is embossed in the seats, you can expect to find something, but perhaps not the word "Equus." The hood ornament wasn't going to make it over, but initial reaction has shown that potential customers have liked it, so Hyundai is considering whether to make it an option, like the Jag's leaper. As for that suspension, Ewanick said "It will be somewhere between the LS and the S-Class. We realize we're dancing on the head of a pin there, but that's what the engineers are going for."

What Hyundai is sure of is that they want to provide more car for less money. Depending on the price and that final suspension calibrations, as of now all signs are looking good for delivery on that.