2014 Hyundai Equus
2014 Hyundai Equus
2014 Hyundai Equus. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

It’s fair to say the Hyundai Equus was met with a fair bit of skepticism when launched in 2011. This rear-drive luxo-barge from the Korean automaker had the audacity to present itself as an alternative to the Lexus LS460 and, gasp, the established big-wigs from Germany.

It sure had price in its favour, and it certainly walked the walk – big grille, big wheels, big headlights and a regal disposition. With no visible Hyundai badging, you at least had a fighting chance of securing that coveted valet spot in front of the Four Seasons. At least until a Mercedes-Benz S 550 muscled in.

The 2011 Equus proved to be an impressive car, underpinned by a world-class drivetrain. Hyundia’s very own Tau 4.6L CVVT DOHC V8 put out a turbine-smooth 385 hp and 378 lb-ft, and its in-house eight-speed auto operated with equal sophistication.

For 2012, the Tau in the Equus was bumped to 5.0L, making 429 hp and 376 lb-ft.

Yet, the Equus wasn’t quite there. The interior trailed the quality look and feel of its competitors. The ride, while mostly magic carpet smooth lacked the body control of Europe’s best. And there were a few oversights, like no powered trunk lid.

So, did you think Hyundai was going to sit on its laurels while the premium full-size luxury game marched forward? ‘Course not.

Enter the refreshed 2014 Hyundai Equus. If Equus v.1 was a warning shot across the bow of the four-ringed, tri-starred, roundel-badged establishment, v.2 comes across as more secure in its positioning.

That said, even Hyundai ain’t kidding itself. People who want premium European sedans buy premium European sedans. They want the badge and the pedigree. Saving a few bucks (okay, many) on a knock-off, no matter how good it is, is not in the cards for most players.

As such, Hyundai cites the Lexus LS460 and Cadillac XTS as their major competition.

Looking at the past couple of years, Hyundai has moved about 120 Equi through the select 27 Canadian Hyundai dealers that made the cut (and financial commitment) to sell the flagship car.

Customer service is a big part of the Equus experience. In fact, you never, ever have to set foot in a Hyundai dealership if that’s what floats your boat. Through Hyundai’s “Your Time, Your Place” valet program, prospective buyers can have the car brought to their house for a test drive, and an Equus-trained salesperson has paperwork at the ready.

2014 Hyundai Equus2014 Hyundai Equus2014 Hyundai Equus
2014 Hyundai Equus. Click image to enlarge

For service, the Equus is retrieved from your premises and a green 1984 Hyundai Pony is left in the driveway, with the promise of unlimited use. (Note: a portion of the previous sentence is untrue.)

The 2014 Hyundai Equus starts at $64,799 for the comprehensively equipped Signature. My tester was the $72,299 Ultimate that adds an extra layer luxury and technology.

Visually, the 2014 Equus has a more refined look. Much of the previous car’s chrome bling (wheels, bumper accents, window surrounds) has been substituted with a more subdued matte metallic finish. Less “new money” and more Newport Beach.

Hop inside and your nostrils take in the aroma of rich leather. The dash has been completely redone and it shows exquisite detailing and unassailable quality. No more excuses in here – it holds up to anything in the market. The design is elegantly simple with large, easily decipherable controls that work with expensively damped precision. The wood veneers and metal accents? Lovely.

In the Ultimate, the analogue instrument cluster is ditched for a reconfigurable 12.3-inch TFT (thin film transistor) LCD display that changes appearance depending on the driving mode selected (normal, sport and snow).

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