Thursday, 14 September 2006
|0853 - Hyundai built a luxury car?|
Yes, they did. It's called the Azera. I've got a pretty well-equipped Azera Limited as my rental this week, and I've been impressed. It compares favorably to what I'm used to in my Lexus.
I'm staying in North Little Rock, and my customer is in Conway, about 25 miles northwest on I-40. It's about a 20-minute drive, going against traffic for nearly the whole way. Traffic going my way flows freely, with cruising speeds at or above the 70 MPH speed limit. The Azera feels right at home, with plenty of power and nice, stable handling. The suspension is firm enough for my taste, though some folks would call it harsh. I had no trouble at all with one bit of emergency evasion when a truck dropped something in front of me. The car simply went where I told it to, with no real dramatics. You do have to use a light touch on the accelerator when leaving a complete stop, or else you'll break the tires loose.
It's got nearly all of the features of my car, including power, heated leather seats, auto-dimming mirrors, and a power sunroof. The sunroof isn't auto-operating; it took me a bit to figure out that I needed to hold the button till it stopped moving. The seats aren't quite as deeply bolstered as I'd like, and they're quite firm - almost to the level of something you'd find in a Volkswagen or BMW. For all that, they're pretty comfortable. One nifty bit is a power-operated screen for the back window that deploys and retracts with the push of a button.
The interior fit and finish is up to par, too. There's wood grain everywhere (even if it is plastic - something my car has, too), and it's all laid out well, with controls that fall right under your hand. The only discordant note is a textured aluminum finish on the top of the center console, and that seems prone to scratching.
The biggest complaint I have is that there's more than the expected amount of road noise. This seems to be almost entirely from the tires, as everything else is pretty quiet; the tires themselves are VR-rated Michelins with not that aggressive a tread pattern, so I'm at a loss to explain it. The Infinity sound system with 6-CD changer and MP3 capability has no trouble overcoming it.
Even so, this is a car that I wouldn't mind having. I can't speak to reliability, but just from living with it for a week, I'd give it a look...especially given its room (more than a Toyota Avalon, their biggest car) and price tag ($26335 starting price for the Limited version, and the only options this car has on top of that are the sunroof and sound system).
current mood: pleased
Huh. Korean Luxury car. I wouldn't have though of that, but I guess Samsung has been in the luxury electronics business for quite awhile. It could be something in the way they setup the suspension. My 2nd gen Neon has almost no noise at all except for road noise from the tires. The suspension on the Neon is a high performance design though so it may be built less for noise reduction and more for cornering. Certain newly-paved roads make my car completely silent inside.
That last sentence describes the Azera, too. Parts of I-40 where I am are freshly paved with asphalt, and parts are older concrete; the former is a lot quieter than the latter.
The amusing part about this on the Neon is that they specifically redesigned the 2nd gen neon to eliminate wind noise from the windows... But reviewers think the 2nd gens have the same issues because they couldn't tell wind noise from road noise. It's possible that they were wrong about the problem all along.