Hyundai Centennial

Luxury now within your means

Excuse my honesty, but those who read this piece will understand what I am talking about. I have a friend that is huge car fanatic, and in her opinion, the BMW X6 is a coupe. She always tries to start a conversation with me about cars, but 80% of the time, it just doesn't work. I comprehend that from her point of view; a Cadillac Escalade is the peak of luxury; the fastest car in the world has to be a Ferrari with a horse badge on it; and the Subaru WRX has been fitted with squishy seats. She is still amazed by Bluetooth technology as I speak inside the car, and still shouts "WOW" whenever I put my car into reverse and the rear-view camera comes on. When I showed her the pictures of the all-new 2014 Hyundai Centennial that I drove over in Dubai, her response was kind of witty and humorous. She told me, "Issam, what a gorgeous Lexus!"

What's Hyundai's goal for such a vehicle?
Hyundai wants everyone to trust that its new luxury flagship is capable of doing everything that a Lexus LS does, but at a lower price. And while there are a few swing-and-miss things to note about the Centennial driving experience in Dubai, what Hyundai has done is create a luxury car able to stand head-to-head with its Japanese competition and coming pretty close to the German rivals.

What's new on the 2014 Hyundai Centennial?
The Korean carmaker apparently did a mid-cycle refresh and hasn't changed much. The front end has been emboldened with a shinier grille, hood ornament and all-LED headlights, but the styling is still just as generic as before. The big changes are on the tech front. The analog gauges give way to a thin film transistor (TFT) LCD display, which can be reconfigured to suit three driving modes (Normal, Snow, Sport). For infotainment, the center console gets a 9.2-inch display and rear passengers get their own monitors. There's also a full set of controls in the rear center armrest, along with a cooler. The rear seats also recline and feature power lumbar support.

Driving Impressions
The new 2014 Hyundai Centennial is more a luxury car than ever before, with a significantly enhanced interior, the addition of a range of cutting-edge features and the introduction of two new, high performance GDi engines. With a choice of 3.8 V6 GDi or 5.0 V8 GDi engines, drivers will certainly not be left wanting for power and performance.

Hyundai's flagship car has already enjoyed significant success in the GCC and Levant countries, where sales grew 147% in 2012.

My drive in Dubai was pretty nice. As you know such a car is chauffeur driven, so sit back and relax. I felt that the ride was super comfortable. The electronically-controlled multi-link suspension has been fine-tuned, while an air suspension option is also available. At the same time, improved tire wheel rigidity, newly designed wing mirrors for less wind noise, quieter engines and improved transmission mounting bracket rigidity helped to make our journey as quiet as it was smooth.

Drivetrain
For the first time, the new 2014 Centennial is equipped with Hyundai's acclaimed GDi engines. The top-of-the-range powerplant is the award-winning TAU V8 5.0 liter GDi unit, which delivers maximum power of 430 hp, a top speed of 240 kph and 0 to 100 kph in 5.8 seconds. A 334 hp Lambda V6 3.8 liter GDi engine is also available, and both units are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Interior
Alongside a number of subtle design upgrades to the exterior, the dashboard has been totally redesigned and incorporates a new premium clock created in collaboration with luxury lifestyle design firm, Innes & Lister Inc., while the new center console sports a cleaner feel thanks to the introduction of a new Shift by Wire gear lever. The cabin exudes quality, with high class leather and wood trim all around. As befitting a luxury car of this nature, the new 2014 Centennial provides the highest standards of comfort and convenience. The rear seats have been completely redesigned for greater comfort, while the front seats have also been adapted. Passengers in the back can now enjoy new dual 9.2inch LCD rear monitor entertainment screens and control their travel experience via a new DIS system.

Features
Hyundai has made available a number of the latest features on its flagship model for the first time.  For improved safety, a Heads-Up Display projects speed and navigation information on the windscreen, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road, while a Blind Spot Detection system alerts the drivers of any vehicles or objects that are in the car's blind spots.

A smartphone touch screen-style user experience is provided by the innovative Haptic Steering Wheel, while an All Around View Monitor utilizes small front, side and rear-mounted cameras to project a 360° view of the area surrounding the vehicle onto the driver's information screen, making parking easier.

An upgraded smart cruise control system can be specified on the new 2014 Centennial, as well as an enhanced, top-of-the-range information and entertainment system, with a choice of a TFT Cluster with 7 inch screen or a Full TFT LCD Cluster, providing enhanced vehicle information and featuring superior styling and an all-new 9.2inch screen.

To ensure that customers receive unbeatable levels of service throughout the buying and ownership experience, Hyundai has introduced well-appointed Premium Lounges into showrooms across the region, while the new Premium Assurance Plus Program offers buyers a range of benefits and peace of mind thanks to features such as the guaranteed buy-back value, free maintenance for five years or 100,000km and a five-year/unlimited kilometer manufacturer provided warranty.

Verdict
The Middle East is the first region outside of Hyundai's Korean home market to receive the new model, and prices in the GCC will start from around USD 60,000 for the 3.8 V6 GDi, and around USD 70,000 for the 5.0 V8 GDi, depending on exact specification.

It is Hyundai's most expensive car to date, and it is a bargain compared to the similarly-sized BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class and a direct competitor with the Lexus LS. Does it have good value, or does it possess enough content and engineering to truly stand out amongst its highly regarded rivals? You should answer these questions yourself; go take a look at one.

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