Preview of Hyundai's Crown Jewel: 2011 Equus
Special to The Auto Channel
By Marty Bernstein
AIADA Contributing Editor
The New York Auto Show was marked by the introduction of 33 new vehicles, but for many the most interesting and potentially exciting was the Hyundai Equus.
First introduced in Seoul last month with little media fanfare, Hyundai’s newest luxury vehicle received a similar reception at the New York Auto Show when Hyundai America’s Acting President and CEO John Krafcik made a brief mention of the vehicle during an afternoon media presentation. At that point, many out-of-town journalists had left for the long Easter weekend, missing the comment as well as the vehicle’s low-key display.
Fortunately, Oles Gadacz, Hyundai’s head of communications, was on hand to provide details on, as he puts it, “What may be coming to the U.S. as a new luxury sedan.” Hyundai has restyled the Equus for the first time in 10 years. “The Equus is going to be the very best in the Hyundai lineup and is going to challenge other luxury brands sold in Korea—from Germany and Japan—as the market leader,” said Gadacz.
He went on to explain that the redesigned Equus was developed in secrecy over a period of three years under the codename “VI Project” and represents a total investment of 500 billion won. Hyundai expects its new luxury flagship to post modest sales of 13,000 to 15,000 units at the offset. Gadacz also indicated that a long wheel base version could also be in the package.
The company has plans to initially distribute the vehicle in Korea, China, and the Middle East. Hyundai indicates that at this point the Equus could come to America, which, for many, amounts to industry code for, ‘place your bets because it’ll be here sooner than you think.’
Here are a few features and attributes of the Equus:
Two engines: The Lambda 3.8 V-6 and the award-winning Tau 4.6 V-8 which was named by Detroit-based Ward’s Autos as one of 2009’s Best Ten Engines.
Front and rear, EQUUS rides on 5-link suspension featuring lightweight aluminum control arms. Hyundai worked in partnership with ZF-SACHS to develop Amplitude Selective Dampers (ASD) which features an innovative, exclusive relief valve. This is air suspension that is electronically governed to minimize body roll, nose-diving, and other undesirable characteristics.
A vehicle stability management which integrates the lane departure warning system, pre-safety system, smart cruise control, and other sub-systems for active and passive safety. Another new safety improvement is the addition of a Knee Air Bag for the driver for a total of nine airbags. There’s a new electric parking brake which is automatically released once the vehicle is put into the drive gear.
Video cameras in the rear and front eliminate blind spots during parking and backing up maneuvers, reducing the risk of accidents while the new parking guidance system provides a computer graphic overlay on the display screen to assist the driver. HID head lamps have a lighting system to vary the angle of the light beam according to the steering direction for safer driving.
Care, Comfort, and Convenience
The interior is a stunning combination of visual and tactile expressions combing soft leather, burnished wood, brushed metals, and sophisticated lighting. It gets cold in Korea so heating is found in unexpected places—steering wheel, seat cushions, and backrests.
On hot summer days, the seat cooling system and glove box drink chiller will be appreciated. There’s a massage system in the rear seats that relaxes and refreshes, too. Infotainment abounds in the new Equus with state-of-the art “techno-tchotchkes” to enhance the driving experience whether as the driver or passenger.
Given the success Hyundai has enjoyed with the Genesis sedan, and potentially with the new Genesis coupe, could the Equus be another car of the year winner for Hyundai? Stay tuned.