• Aug 17, 2009
Hyundai Equus – Click above for high-res image gallery

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.

Photos copyright ©2009 Jonathon Ramsey / Weblogs, Inc.

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.

Photos copyright ©2009 Jonathon Ramsey / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see no reason why you should get racist treatment to hyundai.

      1. I don't see rear design is copy from them.

      2. and front grill design.

      Tell me the Grille doesn't look similar to an MKS
      >> Well, Equus's vertical grill design is more earlier than MKS.

      MKS production date was since 2008 ? OK?
      However, Equus production date was since 1999.


      They use this vertical grill design more earlier than MKS.

      And, its 1st generation Equus exterior designed by Mitsubishi.

      Your claim is nonsense to me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm not gunna go as far as to say it's ugly but it isn't good looking either. It's kinda bland. Of course that tends to be par for the segment and the car does have some features that make it look not totally boring.

      I don't like the interior. The wood paneling has a fake wood look it and there is just way too much of it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "If we didn't want to lose a fortune on repairs, we had to start making quality cars."

      Interesting. It's oddly refreshing to hear an automaker own up to the fact that but a few years ago they were selling crap by the boatload.

      As for the Equus (or whatever it's going to be called), the walkaround photos are fairly handsome, but the nose is a bit too fussy for my tastes. I'll be interested to see what adjustments are made for the US market.
        • 5 Years Ago

        The only difference is that GM has yet to follow up on its promise and as an owner of an 06 Sonata, I can very safely say that Hyundai is packing serious quality now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Uh, sorry Russ but the facts very much do support my thoughtless statement. While it is true that Hyundai has made tremendous improvements in recent years, their more distant history is pretty bad. Their first US offering, the Excel, was a disgrace. The early generation Sonatas were average at best. And the XG350 was, charitably, a subpar placeholder until the Genesis hit the showrooms. Since you're apparently fond of quoting Wikipedia, I thought you would have known all of this by now.

        Besides, if you'd like to take issue with a statement, why not direct your one-line replys toward Jim Trainor. He's the one that admitted that Hyundai had to start making better cars in the first place.
        • 5 Years Ago
        facts does not support your thoughtless statement.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks hot, but it also looks really huge. I look forward to seeing it in person.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have this car, almost exactly the same in Korea. I don't drive it but I ride in the back seat. It is actually a pretty darn good car. It is very spacious, very smooth, and well made. The rear monitor has Digital TV and Audio controls, IPOD Integration, Internet connection, and a killer audio(Lexicon that doesn't really kill. Its okay not great.
      The seats have recline, footrest and massage. It is oriented for the rear right seat but, my driver tells me it is good for driving as well. My other car is a Mercedes S550, so he is comparing to that.
      Only complaint is ride quality is not as good as MB's ABC suspension. Although Equus is not bad, there is no comparison to the Mercedes. S class with ABC brings the best ride quality I have seen yet.

      • 5 Years Ago
      That is the ugliest rip-off of a MKS grille, totally botched up side, and Lexus LS rear end (with Yaris looking tail lights) I have ever seen!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bring it!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think it's beautiful. Everything about it is more appealing to me than its rivals. Lexus and Mercedes are the only other two I would consider, but this car will come in much lower priced than those. I would def. consider this car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      wow, look at all the hyundai fanboys lol
      • 5 Years Ago
      equus is nothing more than a rip off of better cars. It looks like a damn LS460 - and even has "460" on the back. Thats a goddamned shame.

      Its got "the spirit of Ecstacy" on the hood for godssake's.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Agreed, there's just way too much going on in the front fascia. Genesis looks way more luxurious than this.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey, they make a nicer Lincoln grille than Lincoln.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What the hell are you smoking
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