There’s no denying that Hyundai’s product line has done an about face maneuver over the past several years, with commitment to creating engaging, more luxurious models while keeping the overall value in check. With each new product launch, Hyundai brings themselves just that much closer to achieving global domination (add maniacal laugh here). It seems that each model in the lineup has received prestigious honors from just about every reputable automotive body, and the new Azera is no exception. In a bold attempt to claim the top spot in the near-luxury large vehicle segment, Hyundai has really outdone themselves on the Azera – and its competition – when it comes to sheer content, style, and luxury. But the question remains: Is it enough to drive customers into showrooms?
Back when Hyundai first introduced the XG300, it was, admittedly, slightly misunderstood. The Hyundai that we all thought we knew showed us their more personable side – more importantly, it showed us that maybe Hyundai had an appreciation for the finer things in life – wood grain, leather, an Infinity sound system… etc. Back then, everyone was getting their Hyundai for a nice price (and we still are, all things being relative) – but “Nice Hyundai” hadn’t made its way into anyone’s vocabulary. That wouldn’t happen for a few more years, until a total rebirth of the brand was announced and launched back in 2008 with the Genesis sedan. Hyundai was about to bestow us with some really nice cars that featured an unbelievable amount of content given their price point and competition. And every vehicle that our favorite South Korean chaebol has launched or redesigned since then – namely, the Equus and now the new 2012 Azera – simply ooze luxury for their respective price.
Back in January when we first posted about the new Azera (read that post here), we knew it would be several months before we’d get to experience one here at our dealership. Our hopes were high, but as usual – Hyundai delivered. Perfectly proportioned in every conceivable way, the new Azera is utterly stunning in person. The leather is rich and supple and every last detail is intricately executed. What’s cool about this is how the features of this car harken back to what we saw at the Hyundai Press Conference back in November of last year. Just a few months ago, when we got to see the new Azera for the first time, Hyundai Vice Chairman E.S. Chung gave us a glimpse into the philosophy behind “Modern Premium” when it comes to the content that Hyundai chooses to outfit their vehicles with. He points out that it means “to give the customer what they want and nothing more.” After seeing the car in person, you begin to realize that this car has everything you’d ever want – and nothing you don’t.
While the Azera is quite handsome to look at from the outside, the real story is inside the car. There are high-grade soft touch materials everywhere, all the buttons and controls feel really good (for those of us who notice what kind of feedback/resistance/weight buttons tend to give and impression of), and the overall layout of the instrumentation is well thought out and very elegant in execution.