To create the best: That was the uncompromising objective for Hyundai Motor Co.'s VI Project design and engineering team. After ten years in the marketplace, the company's flagship sedan EQUUS would be retired and replaced by a new EQUUS, an import fighter that would need to compete on an equal footing with the most storied names in the luxury car business. Much had changed in the interim requiring a rethinking of the basic assumptions. It started with the adoption of a front engine, rear wheel drive architecture, the luxury segment's de facto standard, to achieve the ideal 52:48 front-rear weight distribution needed to achieve optimal ride and handling characteristics.
"Genesis showed the world what a great car we could build, but EQUUS improves on the Genesis in every measurable way," said Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee, Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of the Corporate Research and Development Division. "The VI (EQUUS) was a fun project: It was greatly satisfying to have absolute freedom to adopt the newest and the best technologies. For once, we weren't constrained by our usual design-to-cost approach to engineering and manufacturing," said Dr. Lee.
From design to execution, absolute excellence would be required on all levels if the new EQUUS was to meet the needs and wants of the target customers, a highly demanding group of top income earners, male executives or entrepreneurs in their 40s and 50s for whom cars serve as an expression of status. A majority of Korean luxury car customers had defected to Japanese and German luxury marques over the years, and winning back their trust in Hyundai posed the ultimate test of the new EQUUS. An entirely new set of technologies would be needed to attain first-class performance, safety, comfort and convenience.
The visual statement is one of elegance and luxury. The exterior lines are progressive, faithful to the original design concept. Viewed from the front, the impression is one of strength and confident power but with luxurious refinement evident in the details of the headlamp and grill design. A study of the side profile hints at a deeper dynamic, sporty personality but without compromising the sedan's overall grace and from the rear, perhaps the most commonly viewed angle, the emphasis is on balanced proportions for visual stability. LED rear combination lamps impart a dynamic, high-tech note.
The interior design concept is, in a word, sumptuous. A classical image welcomes the eye with a simplicity of form that is in balance with high-end IT details for a thoroughly modern interpretation of luxury. From the selection of exotic hardwoods for the crash pad and centre console to the supple leather upholstery of the seats, master craftsmanship and premium natural materials soothe the senses taking luxury motoring to a new level. EQUUS customers will have a choice of three interior colors with matching hardwood accents (Eucalyptus, Walnut or Burled Birch) while brushed satin aluminum trim will add a contemporary feel.
EQUUS comes with a choice of two sophisticated engines: The Lambda 3.8 V-6 and the award-winning Tau 4.6 V-8. To maximize power while minimizing emissions and fuel consumption, both engines feature all-aluminum construction, continuously variable valve timing, variable air induction systems and are mated to six-speed transmissions. The Lambda V-6, good for 290ps (Note: Korea domestic standard, using regular fuel) and a peak torque rating of 36.5kgm, delivers an impressive fuel economy rating of 9.4km/l. The Tau 4.6 V-8, named by Detroit-based Ward's Autoworld as one of 2009's Best Ten Engines, delivers 366ps and 44.8kgm of torque with a fuel economy rating of 8.8km/l.
The 3.8 V-6 will be offered in four trim levels starting with the entry level 3.8 L. 3.8 GL and 3.8 GLS will add comfort and convenience features and V-6 range will be capped off by the 3.8 Top edition. Ruling the EQUUS stable as the most exclusive and best-equipped EQUUS of all will be the 4.6 Top.
Front and rear, EQUUS rides on 5-link suspension featuring lightweight aluminum control arms. Such a multi-link setup for both the front and the rear is uncommon in the industry but through a careful optimization of the wheel geometry and bushing characteristics, stability and ride quality were optimized. To improve shock control over the wheels, Hyundai worked in partnership with ZF-SACHS to develop Amplitude Selective Dampers (ASD) which features an innovative relief valve, a design EQUUS shares with only one other car in the world, its luxury stable-mate Genesis. The air suspension is electronically governed to minimize body roll, nose-diving and other undesirable characteristics.
EQUUS also comes equipped with an Electric Parking Brake which is automatically released once the vehicle is put into drive gear and an Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering System which reduces fuel consumption.
EQUUS elevates driving safety to a whole new level with the introduction of Vehicle Stability Management which integrates the Lane Departure Warning System, Pre-Safety System, Third Generation Smart Cruise Control (SCC) and other sub-systems to provide unparalleled active and passive safety. Using smart optics, the Lane Departure Warning System issues an audible warning if the car deviates from the driving lane without signaling. SCC uses radar waves to automatically regulate the brakes and throttle and maintain a safe distance from the car ahead. If a collision danger is detected, the Pre-Safety System automatically applies the brakes, triggers a flashing warning light on the TFT-LCD which is followed by an audible alert and a vibration in the seatbelt harness. If a collision is unavoidable, full braking force is automatically applied and front seat belts are reeled in within a split second in order to maximize protection.
Another new safety improvement is the addition of a Knee Air Bag for the driver. With two front, four side and two side curtain airbags, this brings the total airbag count to nine.
Video cameras in the rear and front eliminate blind spots during parking and backing up maneuvers, reducing the risk of accidents while the new Parking Guidance System provides a computer graphic overlay on the display screen to assist the driver. High Intensity Discharge Head Lamps with Adaptive Front Lighting System varies the angle of the light beam according to the steering direction for safer driving.
COMFORT and CONVENIENCE
Whether driving or being driven, EQUUS surprises and delights as it opens up a new realm in motoring luxury. Heating, for example, is to be found in unexpected places-steering wheel, seat cushions and backrests- providing a welcome touch on a chilly day. On hot summer days, the seat cooling system and glove box drink chiller will be appreciated while the massage system in the rear seats relaxes and refreshes while en route.
EQUUS is also equipped with an advanced Driver Information System whose menus are accessible through touch-screen menus or jog wheel which has adjacent buttons for menu short cuts. DIS displays navigational maps, personal cell phone directories (downloadable via Bluetooth) and serves as the central control of the 17-speaker Lexicon Sound System. Logic7.1 is able to transform the EQUUS cabin into a veritable concert hall with surround-sound wizardry.
A 3.5-inch display nestled between the speedometer and the tachometer provides a rich variety of information displayed in colorful graphics using the latest Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display (TFT-LCD) technology. From the tire pressure to the AV system and lane departure warning system, fifteen different vehicle functions can be monitored using this high-resolution color screen.
As the pinnacle of the Hyundai motoring experience, EQUUS, Latin for horse, retains its trademark winged emblem which captures the spirit of the fabled winged horse that has been mythologized in both the East and the West. Not only does the EQUUS name generate a high level of awareness in the minds of Korean customers but it also has strongly positive associations as a symbol of status and success. Because of the tremendous amount of brand equity accumulated in the EQUUS name over the past decade, Hyundai decided to retain the name for the Korean market but export badging remains to be finalized. Hyundai is now committed to expanding the EQUUS range to nurture it as the company's flagship model.
EQUUS has made its mark as Korea's top luxury sedan with sales of over 120,000 units worldwide since its launch in April 1999. While the first-generation EQUUS was not exported to North America and Europe it was sold in a very limited number of overseas markets (primarily the Middle East, China and parts of Asia) under the Centennial name. In view of the critical acclaim received by Genesis, feasibility studies are underway to expand exports of the new EQUUS worldwide, including North America and Europe. However, it could be 2011 or 2012 before all the necessary preparations are completed.
Built at the Ulsan Plant, EQUUS will arrive in Hyundai's Korean showrooms in March, 2009 when retail pricing and full technical details will be announced.
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