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Hyundai’s Crown Jewel?

The new Equus sedan is hidden in plain sight in New York!

by on Apr.15, 2009

A bold new grille for a bold entry into the luxury segment?

Equus has bold new grille signifying a contemplated bold move by Hyundai into the luxury segment?

Of the 30-something introductions of new models and concepts at the New York International Auto Show, the one vehicle that could be another Car of the Year award winner for Hyundai was on a turntable on the far side of its display.

This was Thursday afternoon and the last formal presentation of the show. The few remaining out-of-town journalists who hadn’t already gone home were about to split for planes home. And those from the New York metro area were anxious to split for the second night of Passover’s Seder or go home for early Good Friday.

I was staying until the bitter end, and luckily saw Hyundai’s director of public relations from Seoul, Oles Gadacz after leaving another presentation. After exchanging pleasantries, Gadacz commented he was in New York, “to test the waters for their new global luxury flagship, the Equus … that may or may not come to the United States.”

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comGuiding me to the non-functioning display, I saw the gleaming, shimmering  Equus — the result of a three year design and development program, dubbed the VI project, which cost around 500 billion Korean Won or roughly $338 million.

This is a stunning, obviously luxury car front-to-rear and top-to-bottom. Gadacz said, “It will be competitive with the BMW 7-series, Lexus LX460 and Mercedes-Benz S-class and will replace the ten year old previous Equus model.”

The Equus was not a running prototype but looked production ready. The question is the U.S. market ready for a Korean luxury brand?

The Equus poses the question: is the crowded U.S. market ready for a Korean luxury brand?

At 203 inches in length and 75 inches in width it certainly compares in size, but dimensions alone do not a luxury offering make. A long-wheel-base version is in the offing too. Tech features include a 4.6-liter V8 engine – one of Ward’s Ten Best for 2009 — a 6-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive and a 52%:48% weight distribution, HID headlamps, nine airbags, acoustic tinted glass, rear and front cameras for backing and turning, and 19-inch wheels.

There’s an extensive list of amenities, accoutrement’s and accessories including, a great looking instrument cluster, front and rear consoles, heated seats, front and rear, a heated steering wheel, sun screens in the rear and side windows, reclining and adjustable back seats, ditto for front, techno-tchotchkes everywhere and lots of leg room for a luxury car – front 42 inches, and rear only slightly shorter at 40 inches. Oh, and there’s lots of supple looking leather, wood and shining stuff to delight the visual and tactile senses.  

Initially, the car will be sold in Korea, and possibly China and the Middle East, with first year sales projected at 19,000 units.  Price is up in the air; in Korea, a little north of $50,000 is the goal.

John Krafcik in the regular Hyundai reveal of the new Nuvis concept did comment, “The new Equus, the best in the Hyundai product line is also on display at the NY Show, but we don’t know yet if we will bring it to America.”

Wanna bet?

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One Response to “Hyundai’s Crown Jewel?”

  1. JB says:

    MARTY! My sentiments exactly. Silent…but deadly!