Hyundai Azera

Overlooking the competition

"The Azera fits in between Sonata and Genesis"

"The best part of Azera is its futuristic design in and out"

"It's a fun drive with family and friends with loads of character to add ambience"

"The cool thing is the panoramic sunroof that runs almost the entire stretch of the cabin"

There's a thin gap between the midsize sedan and the upscale luxury sedan segment. Quickly, I couldn't figure out the whole lot but here's a list: Chevrolet Impala, Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera. I am going to talk about Hyundai Azera. In Hyundai terms, the model fits in between Sonata and Genesis. To be honest, we had to wait until 2012 when the fifth generation Azera came out with the Sonata type 'fluidic sculpture' design; whereas, it was a mediocre design until then. Our tester was a 3.0 liter V6 variant in black color. The other variant has a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine.

Exterior
The best part of Azera is its futuristic design in and out. It's got a chic look due to the combination of a beautiful front grille and contemporary lines over the body. One of the pleats on the body starts behind the headlamps, flowing though the fender and all the way to the front door.  The continuation can be spotted from the rear door handle, flowing upwards, then across around the back. The side mirrors go along with the fluid flow with built in turn-signal indicators. We have Xenon headlamps in the front followed by a set of fog lights. LED tail lamps are neatly placed in the rear and in the bottom you've got a dual exhaust system with chrome tips. The whole set up runs on a set of beautiful 18" alloy wheels

Interior
Moving inside, we are greeted with a lighting system - a cool blue ambiance. The next cool thing is a panoramic sunroof that runs almost the entire stretch of the cabin and a folding front half. Heated and cooled seats are standard options with seat adjustment controls seen on the door, like in a premium German breed. What's more - lumbar support for a driver, Integrated Memory System (IMS) along with seat massage for driver. Power steering with electronic tilt and telescopic option, power windows, smart key with button start, smart cruise control, auto light system, tire pressure monitoring system are the other features inside. Apart from the driver information screen on the instrument panel, we have a 7 inch touchscreen on the central console with very few buttons around. Navigation was easy. Seats were leather stitched as was the steering wheel and we noticed wood grain strips across the very distinctive two-tier layout of the dash board. There's a lot of room for front passengers and for passengers behind, there's enough headroom for adults with a lot of legroom. To keep the climate in check, Hyundai has got dual zone fully automatic A/C with a rear duct. Yes, we also have the regular additions: Radio, CD, MP3 players, Bluetooth connectivity and decent Infinity surround system

Drivetrain
There's a V6 under the hood with a Lamda 3.0 MPI Dual VVT engine. Maximum power of 250hp and a torque ticking 282Nm stay still par with the segment standards. The front wheel drive set up runs on a six speed automatic transmission which also includes a Shiftronic manual mode. Safety features are mandates and it's a list of inevitable now days. Here we have ABS, ESC, electric parking brake with auto hold, airbags, rear view camera and blind-spot mirrors

Driving Impressions
Engine was smooth and responsive and that's because of the six-speed automatic transmission which has a tendency for quick shifts more often throughout the drive. When compared to Avalon and Impala, the power might take a step behind but to be honest, an ideal buyer of this segment won't be that bothered as the design and gadgetry part would pay the compensation. The overall action was refined.  Though with an initial lapse, the car took pace as we move forward with a polite handling attitude. I felt as if comfort was a priority apart from the design. The steering was touchy and direct but sometimes the sheer size of the car took its toll - no, I mean rarely in tight maneuvers. It's a fun drive with family and friends with loads of characters to add ambience, be it the mood light or the massive panoramic sunroof. Comfy levels were above par and there were storage options inside to add more.

Verdict
In a segment with strong contenders who fairly have an edge on power specs, Azera will look to dominate the rest which includes refreshed design, cool gadgetries, comfort and the price value. As the segment has a very thin slot in the market, I am sure the next Hyundai focus is going to be adding more horsepowers. With that done, I can tell you they are surely raring to overlook the competition.

Pros: Refreshed style in and out, price value, comfortable drive, panoramic sunroof
Cons: Needs more power
Rivals: Toyota Avalon, Chevrolet Impala, Nissan Maxima, Kia Cadenza
Engine: 3.0 liter V6 engine, 250 hp, 282 Nm
Transmission: 6 speed automatic, FWD
Performance: 0-100 kph: 8.2 sec, 10 L /100 km, Top speed: 240 kph
Curb Weight: 1675 kg 

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