Genesis-topping flagship on way from Hyundai

  • 22-Apr-2010 05:39 EDT
Taking a page from the Lexus playbook, Hyundai's first entry in the prestige sedan segment could easily be mistaken for one of the established entries.

While everything about Hyundai’s Equus flagship premium sedan is conventional except its owner’s manual—an Apple Co. iPad, that conventionality may well mark a success for an upstart contender in the luxury-car market like Hyundai because there are no obvious shortcomings or corners that were cut to produce the car’s aggressive $55,000 (approximate) price tag.

The Equus is built from the same body architecture as the Genesis sedan, but stretched another 7.2 in (183 mm) to 203.1 in (5159 mm). The company points to high-strength steel that improves rigidity of the body structure.

The corporate Tau 4.6-L V8 engine is carried over from the Genesis, but is estimated to produce an additional 3 hp (2 kW) when using regular fuel for a total of 375 hp (280 kW). The company will also certify the engine’s rating on premium fuel and currently predicts it will achieve 385 hp (287 kW), topping the premium-fuel ratings of the Audi A8, Lexus LS460, and Mercedes-Benz S550. The ZF six-speed automatic transmission carries over from the Genesis.

The Equus rides on an electronically controlled air suspension, letting drivers choose between the comfortable standard setting or the more controlled, precise sport setting.  Additionally the shocks feature Hyundai’s Continuous Damping Control that adjusts settings based on conditions. Chrome-plated 19-in wheels are standard fitment.

The Equus includes the expected raft of luxury, safety, and entertainment technologies that are the norm in the flagship segment. Electronic stability control, nine air bags, active head restraints, land departure warning, seatbelt tensioners, and smart cruise control head the list of safety features.

The lane-departure system has graduated levels of warning, with a warning light and chime after a 1-s lane departure and haptic feedback through the seatbelt after 3 s. The forward-looking radar for the smart cruise control hides behind a tinted panel in the front fascia, which is less obvious than some of the grille-mounted units. The system acts on both the car’s throttle and brake systems to maintain speed.

Rather than offering an automatic parking system of debatable benefit, Hyundai instead offers an optional forward-looking camera mounted on the car’s grille to supplement the standard rearview camera’s aid to the driver to park the car manually.

Like the Genesis, Equus features a Lexicon sound system, in this case a 17-speaker design based on a 13-channel 608-W digital amplifier with 7.1 surround-sound audio. The radio includes XM satellite radio, HD terrestrial radio, and Apple iPod integration through a USB port.

Finally, in the biggest departure from convention, Hyundai eliminated the traditional, typically unused, owner’s manual in the glovebox. Instead the company will load an Apple iPad with all the information that the company hopes will be more accessible and engaging for its customers.

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