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by George Skentzos

Only a few years ago, the prospect of a luxury Hyundai was almost laughable, lacking the badge credibility buyers had come to expect from the premium market.

A lot has changed for Hyundai in recent years and this transformation has allowed the Korean car maker to establish a new flagship in the luxury sedan market to take on the best from Germany and Japan with the all-new Equus.

As a replacement for the first-generation Equus, this new model is the culmination of extensive design and engineering spanning over three years at a cost of more than AUD$513 million.

Initially, it will be available solely in the Korean domestic market, with Hyundai projecting sales of at least 13,000 units in the first year, growing to 19,000 units by 2010.

Hyundai also plans to enter overseas markets such as China and the Middle East with its all-new Equus, starting in the latter half of 2009.

The Equus is available with the choice of two engines – the Lambda 3.8-litre V6 and the award-winning Tau 4.6-litre V8, both featuring an all-aluminium construction, continuously variable valve timing and variable air induction systems.

The Lambda V6 engine boasts peak power of 213kW and 358Nm while delivering impressive fuel economy of 10.8-litres per 100km.

Meanwhile the Tau V8 produces 269kW and 439Nm with only a marginal disadvantage in fuel economy, using just 11.4-litres per 100km.

Both models feature a six-speed automatic transmission, multi-link suspension front and rear, and an Amplitude Selective Dampers (ASD) system developed in partnership with ZF-SACHS.

The new Equus also boasts added conveniences usually only found in German premium models such as an electric park brake, electro-hydraulic power steering system, lane departure warning system, pre-Safety system and third generation smart cruise control (SCC).

The list continues with video cameras front and rear to eliminate blind spots, integrated with a new parking guidance system and high intensity discharge head lamps with adaptive front lighting system.

During winter, a warm touch comes through the steering wheel, seat cushions and backrests while in summer owners have been catered for with the seat cooling system and glove box drink chiller – a massage system in the rear seats ensures extra passengers are also taken care of.

The entertainment system uses and advanced driver information system accessible through a touch-screen menu or toggle wheel, displaying maps, Bluetooth phone menu and acting as the central control of the 17-speaker Lexicon sound system.

Korean buyers can select from four trim levels priced from AUD$65,500 for the entry level VS380 model and will top out at approximately AUD$108,000 for the VS460 Prestige.

A long wheelbase edition which will be powered by a 5.0-litre V8 ‘Tau’ engine will also be added to the range later this year.




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