Many good things in life fly just under the radar. Like the other day when I went to lunch at work, and noticed a bright blue Hyundai Elantra parked out front. The color caught my eye, but I figured it was just another Elantra. Then I noticed the wheels, the slightly aggressive body styling, and the dual exhaust tips protruding from the diffuser-looking rear valance. I thought to myself, “Damn, Hyundai is really trying to make the Elantra look like a performance model.” I saw the word “Sport” displayed on the back, and the subtle “Turbo” badge on the front grill. That prompted me to get out my phone and Google the Elantra Sport over lunch. What I found out was very intriguing.
Hyundai has transformed itself over the last decade, going from the stereotype maker of cheap jalopies to a company that is now taking on the biggest names in the luxury market. The Equus you see here is the culmination of those efforts, a car that claims to strike directly at the standard of the world, the Mercedes S class.
It is really crazy to think that the same company which makes the economy-minded Elantra can also produce this posh luxury bruiser. Other companies, like Honda and Toyota, created whole new brands (Acura and Lexus) for their upmarket efforts in the US, but Hyundai has decided to keep everything under one flag.
This does beg some questions: Can the Equus really work as a Hyundai in a country where people are obsessed purely with their own self image? And furthermore, if we put the Equus up against its claimed competitors, will it stand up to the challenge?
Hyundai has no secrets in its intentions. Since 2009, this company has managed to make itself look leagues better than almost everyone. When one company screws up in the news, Hyundai has a positive headline on the same page of the local newspaper. Somehow, they can make the entry-level Accent and Elantra and sell them in the same dealers as the high-end Genesis sedan, as well as the subject of this review, the flagship Equus. No other car company can sell a range as diverse as this under the same franchise roof. Hyundai bills the big Equus as a car to fight the S-Class for a much lower price. On paper, that’s quite a clear truth, but I had to drive it to see if that advertising line lives up to its billing.
The Hyundai Veloster brought a nice bit of flavor to the economy car market back in 2011. Its unique three-door design with funky styling set it apart from the cookie cutter options offered by other carmakers. However, the Veloster was all show and no go because underneath it was still just an economy car. For 2012 Hyundai brought out the Veloster Turbo in an effort to make the car’s go-go power match its wild appearance. The result is a very interesting car. One that competes in the marketplace well, and becomes extremely convincing once you consider all that it has to offer.
Ten years ago if someone had told me that Hyundai would soon be making sports and luxury cars I would have laughed in their face. Hyundai was basically the poster child for offensively cheap cars that people would only buy because they couldn’t afford a Honda or Toyota. Over the next decade though, Hyundai would make one hell of an effort toward improvement, becoming one of the best real values on the market. I have been a huge fan of Hyundai in recent years, applauding their innovation and commitment to quality in their drive up market. The Genesis Coupe you see here is one of the cars that helped vastly step their game up, a fast sports car from a company with little racing history. It couldn’t possibly be that good, could it? Continue reading Test Driven: Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track (9/10)
In the world of small, economical cars it is hard to find something that is remarkable. Most cars offer basically the same package as all of their competitors, making any differentiating factors superficial at best. Hyundai has changed this game with the Veloster dramatically. Everything from its design, to its features, to the driving experience, the Veloster has charged into the market with a new and unique package, and it is selling like hotcakes. Continue reading Test Driven: 2012 Hyundai Veloster (8.5/10)