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First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Equus

Maker’s first premium luxury sedan expected to carry a low-$60,000 base price.

by on Jul.29, 2010

Hyundai takes on the premium luxury market with the new Equus sedan.

The corners come up fast when you’re pushing 150 mph.  But with little more than a whoosh, we blast around the high-banked oval at the Hyundai Namyang Proving Grounds, the big sedan firmly locked in its lane.

Though there aren’t many places where you can expect to clock those sorts of speeds in South Korea, Hyundai has reason to show off the high speed handling of its new Equus sedan, its first to go up against the best the Germans can offer, better-known nameplates like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series.

It’s been two years since the Korean carmaker first entered the luxury market with its Genesis sedan.  The offering took the market by surprise, winning the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy and building a reasonably solid market among buyers who sought a mid-range luxury sedan without the high-priced sticker of import offerings like the Audi A6 or Lexus GS.

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But it’s another matter entirely to push into the premium luxury market, where buyers are far less forgiving of flaws and far more demanding when it comes to quality, refinement and features.  So, how does the new Equus stack up?

Certainly, there are those who will think Hyundai is over-reaching with the sedan.  There’s no question that the Korean carmaker has done a credible job improving its image with a steady string of solid offerings, but this is a rarified segment of the market where only the best can compete.  But, then again, isn’t that what we said, two decades ago, when the Lexus LS first came to market?