Once derided as a budget brand, Hyundai has been campaigning a relentless march up-market over the past few years with the likes of the Genesis and the Equus. Beneath them sits the Sonata – an impressive new vehicle to be sure – but there exists a wide gulf between these models, and it's the Azera's job to fill that gap with a larger-than-Sonata front-wheel-drive sedan.
Now in its fourth generation, the current Azera – also known as the Grandeur in some overseas markets – looks rather dated and unremarkable nestled in between its flashier stablemates and has been on the market since 2005. We've seen spy shots of its fifth-generation replacement undergoing testing, but Hyundai has now released the first batch of official images showing us what to expect from the new model.
As you can see for yourself in the gallery below, it looks promising, applying the Korean automaker's "fluid sculpture" design language to a new shape that's expected to arrive sometime in the new year as a 2012 model. Accompanying announcement after the jump.