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2011, Hyundai, Equus

We're in equestrian territory, CA. Not horse territory, which is in the Sierra Nevadas where the Western States hundred mile ride takes place. No, this is Woodside, Palo Alto, Mountain View. This is money equestrian, with the white fences and heated barns. This is Equus country.

This is not the first Equus Hyundai ever made. The first generation Equus was launched in 1999 for the Korean domestic market, China and the Middle East. That Equus was a front-wheel drive architecture and a 4.5-liter Omega V-8.

The Equus has made the long leap to the United States. This Equus originated at Hyundai's design center in Irvine, CA. It changed design, architecture and platform. Only the name stayed the same.

Every car gets an owner's manual, but Hyundai has taken an owners manual to new heights. Not only is Hyundai giving the new owner of an Equus a wifi-enabled Apple I-pad, with the owners manual on it, when they purchase a car, there will be apps on the I-Pad that allow you to schedule service appointments.

The Hyundai iPad app is from Xtime Inc. of Redwood Shores, CA. Xtime specializes in software for auto service departments. The Xtime software will be in addition to the virtual owners' manual on the iPad. Xtime has successfully deployed Xtime’s Electronic Service Menus solution to nearly all of Hyundai's 800 U.S. dealerships.

But not to worry, says John Krafcik, President and CEO, Hyundai North America, if you take the I-pad out of the car and you still want to look at the owners manual there will be a paper version of the manual.

At around $60,000 this Hyundai has to stand out from the crowd. Equus owners will get a vehicle valet service that is usually only standard in more expensive cars, such as Rolls-Royce. A Hyundai representative will pick the car up for service from the owner's home or office and deliver it after the work has been completed.

Speaking of Rolls-Royce, Lexicon used to be only in Rolls-Royce. Until Hyundai put the seventeen speaker, 7.1 surround sound, audio system in the Equus. I was privy to a conversation with a fellow journalist that told me that Rolls-Royce was quite miffed that Lexicon was being used in the Hyundai Equus. The Lexicon representative said that they had heard Rolls would no longer use the Lexicon badge because of it.

Hyundai designed a winged logo for the Equus. This logo appears on the front of the car, on the wheels, the steering wheel, and the shifter. The Hyundai badge that you see on all other Hyundais is on the rear of the car.

This four-door luxury sedan is based on Hyundai's Genesis platform, the full-size Genesis sedan launched last year that garnered North American Car of the Year award. The platform was stretched for the Equus to luxury sedan dimensions that compete with Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, Lexus LS, and BMW 7-Series luxury sedans.

A competition that Hyundai beats most its competitors in is turning radius. Only the Lexus LS 460L (37.5) has a tighter turning radius than the Hyundai Equus. All the other cars are 40 feet and higher.

The cabin succeeds in delivering a luxury experience, using fine materials, such as walnut wood and birch burl. Hyundai didn't forget the heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, or the heated and cooled front seats. An ultimate luxury sedan would be replete without a mini refrigerator and rear seats that massage you, with powered headrests.

If you're going to copy, copy the best. And why more companies haven't copied the Mercedes-Benz power seat adjusters on the side of the door, instead of the seat, is beyond me. So logical and simple to understand, and you can see what you are doing, instead of grappling for an adjuster and breaking a nail.

Technology in the Equus comes standard. The interface controller sits behind the shifter in the center console and reminds one of BMW's i-drive system. In the rear, the center console between the passenger houses the audio controls.

Luxury and high-tech are standard and include, electronically controlled air suspension with Continental AG's continuous damping. Adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, front and rear parking assist with rearview camera, adaptive headlamps,vehicle stability control with pre-collision warning are all also on the list of standards.

Hyundai's new flagship luxury sedan will be introduced in the United States this year with just two trim levels - Equus Signature and Equus Ultimate. Hyundai has not announced pricing, but when I was speaking to John Krafcik, President and CEO, Hyundai North America, he went along with "around $60,000".

Hyundai uses their Tau 4.6-liter V-8 engine. It produces 385 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm and 333 pound-feet of torque @ 3,500 rpm, delivered through a ZF six-speed automatic. Hyundai claims average fuel economy of 16 city/24 highway mpg.

Hyundai has said they will might add a 429 horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission at a later date.

Black Noir Pearl, White Satin Pearl, Granite Gray, and Platinum Metallic

Jet Black with Walnut, Cashmere with Birch Burl, and Saddle with Walnut

The drive is what sets it apart from some of the other competitors. The normal and sport mode are tuned so differently that one wants to drive normal on the way to the racetrack and sport on the racetrack.

The Equus is optimized for challenging driving. At 4,500 pounds this car is smooth in the corners and fast on the straight-aways. When you put the car in Sport mode it holds the transmission gear a little longer giving it that sporty feel with great passing power.

When Hyundai came to market there were still echos of Yugo and other nameless brands that weren't safe or reliable. This little Korean brand took a strategic bold move and offered ten years, 100,000 mile warranty on its products. The Equus will have the ten-year, 100,000 warranty.

That offering is one of the reasons Hyundai has a 4.7% marketshare today, according to John Krafcik, President & CEO Hyundai North America.

The Equus luxury sedan starting price is $58,900, including shipping. The Hyunda Equus Ultimate starting price is $65,400 including shipping. Both will go on sale November 1st. Hyundai expects to sell 2,000-3,000 luxury sedans per year in the United States.

The Equus will do great in America, in Equus territory or on the weekend racetrack, with all horses prancing.

By Lou Ann Hammond

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Images of the 2011, Hyundai Equus

an i-Pad in every car
an i-Pad in every car
lux inside, including a Lexicon audio system
lux inside, including a Lexicon audio system
serene and sculpted
serene and sculpted
2011 Hyundai Equus sold to you at home, no matter where you live
2011 Hyundai Equus sold to you at home, no matter where you live