New For 2011
Hyundai surprised the automotive world when displayed the 2010 Hyundai Equus at the 2009 New York Auto Show. A super-luxury sedan boasting a price tag near six figures and the sort of luxury amenities expected of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Equus has been sold in Asian markets for several years. But the company now has plans to sell it in the U.S.
The success of the Hyundai Genesis sedan, however, has the Korean automaker thinking big. If Americans will embrace the Genesis as a Hyundai luxury car with a price tag as high as $40,000, some ask, what’s to stop them from embracing a more luxurious model a step up the food chain wearing a Hyundai badge?
What the Auto Press Says
When Hyundai first announced it would build the entry-level luxury Genesis, most in the automotive press assumed the automaker was preparing to spin off a separate luxury brand, much as Toyota did with its Lexus nameplate. Many were skeptical when the car appeared at Hyundai dealerships.
Several months, thousands of successful sales and one North American Car of the Year award later, the gamble seems to have paid off. The Genesis offers some equipment found only on $50,000 luxury cars in a $32,000 to $40,000 price range. American are buying it despite the lack of a luxury badge. The Genesis appears to be convincing skeptical auto writers and skeptical car shoppers that Hyundai can build a bargain luxury car.
The Equus strikes many in the press as another big gamble. In Asian markets, this car is sold as an alternative to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS – a super-luxury car with a sticker price approaching six figures. Would Americans accept a six-figure Hyundai?
Perhaps we won’t be asked to. Rumors say Hyundai may try to bring the Equus stateside in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.
That would make the Equus the next logical step after the Genesis. The Genesis succeeds by offering a BMW 5-Series-like experience for the price of a 3-series. Might the Equus pull of the same trick a step down, bringing 7-Series size and luxury into the 5-Series price range?
Here is what the press has to say about the coming Hyundai Equus:
- “In Korea, Equus is powered by a Lambda 3.8L V-6 (290-hp/264 lb-ft) and Tau 4.6L V-8 (375-hp/333 lb-ft) and features a handsome design. Its exterior is matched with many highly advanced creature comforts and safety options as well. There’s even talk of a bigger 5.0L Tau V-8 coming to the model range for added performance.” – Motor Trend
- “In addition to the big mills, it’ll get an 8 speed automatic transmission, Lane Departure Warning System, Vehicle Stability Management System and Pre-Safety Seatbelt System.” — Jalopnik
- “The cabin where the Equus shows that it’s truly meant to do battle against the likes of the Mercedes S-Class, Lexus LS and BMW 7 Series. All the toys are present: push-button start, a console-mounted control interface for the in-car systems, classy wood accents, upmarket switchgear, and even Grey Poupon snack trays for the rear passengers. Oh, those rear passengers get massaging back seats, as well. It’s very impressive looking and it stinks of quality. If Hyundai ever decides to gamble and attack the next price segment up from the Genesis sedan, they clearly have the ammo to do so. The Equus is the real deal.” – Autoblog
- “In Korea the car starts at the equivalent of $96,000, and taking on the Benz S-Class in America is not what Hyundai has in mind. At least not yet. Hyundai hopes to get the price down to near $50,000 in the States, where it would give Genesis sedan owners a car to move up into.” — Edmunds
The Korean-market Equus is offered with a version of the 4.6-liter Tau V8 that has impressed reviewers in the top-of-the-line Genesis, as well as a version of the Lambda 3.8-liter V6 found in the less-expensive Genesis model. Most auto writers believe the V8 will come stateside, but many doubt the V6 will. Instead, a larger 5.0-liter V8 is reportedly in development.
All engines will use an electronically-controlled 8-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted.
The Equus, like the Genesis, is not yet offered in all-wheel-drive. If it hopes to compete for BMW and Lexus buyers, that may be a deficiency Hyundai needs to address.
Inside, the car is designed to look and feel like a six-figure super luxury sedan, even though it may ultimately carry a pricetag barely more than half that amount. It features soft-grain leather throughout (the same as that found on upgrade packages for the Genesis), the same 17-speaker Lexicon sound system, massaging seats at all four seating positions, polished walnut trim and even an iDrive-like driver interface to control climate and entertainment functions.