A year after its first showing on U.S soil and at the very same venue, Hyundai will officially unveil the production version of its flagship luxury sedan at the New York Auto Show. Hyundai has not said as much, but the full-sized luxury car is expected to keep the Equus name. What it will be missing, however, is that big hood ornament, although Hyundai is likely to offer it through dealers.
As a competitor to the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class, the Equus is based on the Genesis platform, itself a supposed rival to cars like the BMW 5 Series. While Hyundai can’t reasonably expect to take on the Germans (not yet, anyway), the Equus is likely to steal away a few Lexus LS customers. And with the LS priced around $63,000, you can be sure the Equus will come in under that.
So what do you get in a Korean luxury car? Well, we think it’s quite handsome, plus it’s also very large. At 74.8-inches wide, it’s thicker than an S-Class or Lexus LS. The wheelbase is relatively short for this type of vehicle at 119.9-inches and with an overall length of 203.1-inches (just slightly longer than the long wheelbase LS460), don’t expect stellar handling. Under the hood the Equus gets the same 4.6-liter V8 found in the top-level Genesis Sedan. Making 380-hp it should deliver a 0-60 mph time of just over six seconds, with a quarter mile time in the low 14s.
Inside is where the real treats are, with every imaginable luxury available. On a Korean-spec model we had a chance to experience last year, there were massaging and reclining rear seats, seat-back mounted flip up tables, LCD screen DVD players and even a fridge. The Equus also had heated and cooled seats and privacy shades for the back and side-rear windows. One feature we particularly liked was that the side window shades pop up by pulling on the power window switch a second time – which reduces the overall number of buttons and switches in the cabin. In fact, we were surprised by the limited number of cabin-cluttering switches. Another notable feature is the fact that the front passenger seat can be adjusted from an armrest console in the rear – presumably for the comfort and convenience of executive types riding in the back. The interior materials are definitely high quality, although not quite what you might find in a Lexus LS. Then again, the interior of the BMW 750 isn’t quite what you’d find in a Lexus either. The excessive amount of wood trim certainly isn’t one of our favorite parts, but the genuine Suede headliner is.
Equus drivers will be able to appreciate high-tech features like a back-up camera (and front-facing camera), a blind spot monitoring system, active cruise control, a 528-watt 17-speaker Lexicon audio system and an adjustable air-ride suspension. Hyundai marketing boss Joel Ewanick said that by the time the Equus makes its way to the U.S. the suspension will receive a few tweaks. Normally this means “softening,” but Ewanick surprised us by saying that it will actually be made slightly stiffer than what is offered in Korea.
GALLERY: Hyundai Equus
For more on the upcoming 2011 Hyundai Equus see our video interview with Hyundai Motor America’s VP of Marketing Joel Ewanick after the jump: