2011 Hyundai Equus Signature: Broke Its Back
March 16, 2011
Not really. Thought I did, though. Kept pressing the Back button on the multimedia button pad as though it were a Home button (it's not) until it got stuck. Once parked, managed to jam a credit card into a gap and pry it back to its normal springy position. A small reminder that the Equus, nice as it is, isn't primetime luxo just yet.
The button and the action feel a little cheap to begin with, as do many of the dash, console and panel materials. It's all in the right place, the presentation works, and the rotary multimedia controller -- falling right to hand as your wrist dangles off the armrest -- is really the only way to fly. But everything just looks and feels a bit too knocked-off. Nothing is quite shiny, polished, smooth, brushed or thick enough.
But it's so close. Hyundai is probably only one producer (in this case, maybe an interior designer) away from releasing its masterwork. Only one Rick Rubin or George Martin away from its landmark Sgt. Pepper's or OK Computer. So close.
For one thing, the Equus hauls. The 385-hp V8 brings its mass to bear in a hurry: 6.7 seconds to 60 mph in our tests. And you feel it. Not in a lumbering, uncoordinated way, but more like a rolling boulder picking up steam. A solid metal mass in motion. You could let off the throttle and this horse would probably coast to Colorado.
And dead quiet. This car is so acoustically-treated, so well-damped from the outside world, that it reminds me of riding a Japanese bullet train. You get the same sensation on the shinkansen: just the slight hum of machines at work under thick layers of rubber, air, and acoustic isolation. Slight wind whistle off the windows. A quiet, dreamy hum punctuated by the occasional rising pitch of acceleration.
Which makes the Equus not for everyone, particularly drivers who rate sensory engagement with the road as one of life's pleasures. This likely includes you. That said, if you already own THAT car and simply want a pillowed path through the highway drudgery, the Equus can hang with nearly any of the top novocaine cruisers.
What you save on sticker, you'll pay for through inferior fit and finish, sure. And at $60,000, I don't think I'd want reminders of that every day. Especially priced so close to an M56, or with a new XJ within sight. But not counting Hyundai out at all. It's already changed the family sedan game. The more discerning luxury segment is obviously another nut.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor