The Hyundai Equus measures up, spec for spec, with some seriously luxurious, prestigious sedans. It doesn't match them in handling, but it's every bit the equal in refined acceleration, even in steering feel.
Hyundai's targeted the likes of the BMW 7-Series, the Lexus LS and the Mercedes S-Class with the Equus. At launch it was powered by a 4.6-liter, 385-horsepower V-8, shared with the smaller Genesis sedan, and good for 0-60 mph times in an estimated 6.4 seconds. To give it distance from the Genesis, Hyundai's already upgraded the engine in the Equus to a new 5.0-liter V-8 that reels out an impressive 429 horsepower, pushing acceleration times down by a few tenths and gaining two more gears with its eight-speed automatic. The drivetrain hustles the big sedan to highway speeds quickly, with barely a ruffle of noise.
The Equus' ride and handling pit it firmly against the Lexus LS, while it's more softly sprung and less nimble than the German sedans in the class. We've felt the Equus as it progressed from prototypes we drove in Korea, to the production cars on the streets today, and there's been notable progress in ratcheting up the Equus' responsiveness without losing its well-controlled ride. Based on the most recent examples we've driven, the Equus can rifle off switchbacks as well as or better than the Lexus, with some of the taut ride control of the bigger BMW and Mercedes sedans, thanks to a well-tuned air suspension.
The Equus' electrohydraulic steering is pretty lovely, too--it's the ideal blend of motors where they save energy and hydraulics where linear, consistent feel are required. The steering now feels less vague than Korean prototypes we'd driven last year, and much of the time, it contributes greatly to that appealing driving "smallness" you'll find in German cars. It doesn't get harsh, even with 20-inch wheels and tires. The brakes seemed up to the task of slowing the hefty Equus, but they didn't have the soothing bite of the best brakes you'll order from BMW (or really, Porsche).
There's a Sport button on the Equus that's supposed to sharpen its steering feel, transmission shift points and throttle mapping, but it doesn't seem to alter its behavior as much as intended.