Two years ago, Hyundai introduced the Genesis to take on the BMW 5-series, the Mercedes E-Class and the Lexus GS. And the Genesis was named North American Car of the Year. Now, Hyundai has taken that basic Genesis platform, lengthened the body by more than seven inches and added a stunning amount of luxury features, to go after the top-of-the-line BMW 7-Series, Mercedes S-Class and Lexus LS. And since Hyundai knows that few customers will pay $94,525 — that’s the price of a Mercedes S550, the least expensive comparable S-Class — for the 2011 Hyundai Equus, the company has priced it at $58,000 for the base Signature model, or $64,500, plus $900 for shipping, for the Ultimate model.
The test vehicle was the Ultimate, and yes, that name is appropriate. The Signature has most every feature you can imagine, including the 4.6-liter, 385-horsepower V-8 (or 378 horsepower if you use regular gas instead of premium); a 608-watt, 17-speaker sound system; laminated window glass and an iPad that contains the electronic owner’s manual. So what is left for the Ultimate? A rear entertainment system with an eight-inch monitor, heated and cooled front and rear seats, a rear-seat refrigerator, massaging seats and a “forward-view cornering camera.”
The Signature’s rear seat offers plenty of room but is conventional. The Ultimate turns the threepassenger rear seat into a two-seat arrangement that looks and feels like a first-class seat on an airliner, with a center console taking the middle-seat position. Understand that in Korea, the Equus — that’s Latin for “horse” — is often a chauffer-driven limousine, so rear-seat passenger comfort is paramount.Up front, the Equus is pretty accommodating, too. Front leather-trimmed seats are plush, though a little more BMW-like support would be appreciated. The instruments and controls definitely have a German feel. The steering and suspension, though, could use a little more of that German influence. Even with the pneumatic suspension dialed to the “sport” setting, cornering is a little sloppy, and you feel every one of the Ultimate’s 4,600 pounds, though the big 19-inch Continental radial tires help the handling. Hyundai also has work to do on the electric-boosted power steering, which lacks road feel. For just plain cruising, though, the Equus is the match of the BMW, Mercedes and Lexus. The ride is exceptionally smooth and quiet. Brakes are excellent. The engine has plenty of power, and is appropriately matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Rumor is that even more power is coming from a larger engine, as well as the addition of an all-wheel-drive version to this current rear-drive model. Outside, Hyundai got the styling right. At auto shows, the chrome-laden Equus looked a little flashy on the elevated turntable, but on the road, the car has a premium presence, and drew its share of admiration and questions from onlookers. Inside, the leather, wood and aluminum trim is a match for any manufacturer.Bottom line: Hyundai’s first effort at an ultra-luxury car is a success, and very likely worth the $65,000 price.
To scheudle a time to see the first Equus that is coming in please call:
Shane Housholder, Sales ManagerGlenbrook Hyundai 4801 Coldwater Road Fort Wayne, IN 46801260-484-9531 or toll free 1-800-Hyundai
A $65,000 Hyundai? Yes, and it’s good!