One year ago, Hyundai placed its Korean-market Equus flagship luxury sedan on its show stand at New York "to test reaction," though validating the decision to bring it here was more the case. Now, with the 2011 Hyundai Equus bound for the U.S. on display at this year's New York show, Hyundai appears to be setting out to accomplish what Lexus did 20 years ago, only this time around, Lexus finds itself a target.
Hyundai has lined up the Lexus LS 460 in the crosshairs in addition to the Mercedes-Benz S550. On paper at least, the Equus is neck-and-neck with both of its main bogeys.
It's worth noting that the Equus is not a clean-sheet design. The car has existed in Korea for more than a decade, so Hyundai has had plenty of time to get it right before launching it in America this fall. If the spec sheet is to be believed, they've succeeded in producing a vehicle that can hang with the top dogs in the segment. The Equus in most cases offers as much or more interior space than either the Benz or the Lexus, comparable power, high-tech suspension and all the requisite luxury features.Its 4.6-liter Tau V-8, for example, is slightly more powerful than the LS and the S550 with 385 horsepower at your command, though it falls significantly short on torque, with just 333 pound-feet available. With a ZF six-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels, Hyundai stakes a claim of less than 6.4 seconds to 60 mph, but that puts the big horse a full second behind its Japanese and German competition, despite the fact that all three cars report curb weights within 300 pounds of each other depending on trim.
At least Hyundai can say it's kept up on the mileage, matching the LS 460's 16 mpg city and 19 mpg highway and besting the S550.