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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 January 2021

Road testing the 2021 Hyundai Azera: Why this flagship sedan could rival Mercedes or BMW

Hyundai’s latest offering manages the rare feat of living up to a carmaker's impressive boasts

When mention is made of a car being, say, the most luxurious, technically innovative or roomiest vehicle a certain manufacturer has ever produced, it’s not unusual for the eyes of those on the receiving end of this information to rise heavenwards. These kind of hyperbolic claims are common in the automotive world and often used in reference to improvements that are minimal at best.

With the 2021 Hyundai Azera, though, this trio of positives is actually true and distinctly noticeable as soon as you take a closer look. It’s the company’s latest flagship sedan, and a model only surpassed in basic splendour (and price) by the handful of vehicles produced by Genesis, the manufacturer’s posh spin-off brand.

The Azera can count itself as a contender for many other vehicles currently on the market, not least its Japanese counterparts produced by the likes of Nissan and Toyota. Now, however, Hyundai’s latest offering may provide an alternative to more expensive vehicles produced by, say, Mercedes and BMW. And, whisper it, Genesis.

Looks-wise, the Azera is a definite contender. It’s as pretty as any of its brethren, with a fearsome, diamond-patterned front grille that can only be described as a signature feature.

Inside, you get definite feelings of being in a far more expensive vehicle. The leather upholstery is impressive. There are two 12.3-inch screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other for all your entertainment needs. You also get another one for climate control. It’s all very neat and attractive.

Lots of driver aids in there, too, all coming under what Hyundai calls its Smartsense technologies.

In this one, the power is strong, as Yoda might say if he was looking for a nifty sedan. The 3.5-litre V6 engine will get you from a standing start to 100 kilometres per hour in 7.4 seconds, and it does that in a manner that can only be described as relaxed.

One of the key differences between sedans at this price point and more expensive models is that the cheaper versions can rattle just a little bit more when you put your foot down. It’s often barely perceptible, but noticeable if you’re paying attention – and that’s the kind of thing you pay the extra money for.

There’s none of that with the new Azera, though. No drama as you zip up through the gears, and more importantly, no worries that you might be lacking in thrust at any given moment.

The Azera also rolls along tidily at far lower speeds which is, most likely, what a solid commuter vehicle of this sort will spend the majority of its time doing. The car still feels capable at less-than-breakneck pace, too.

So, in short, the Azera is a rather superior vehicle to what you might have been expecting. The vehicle being tested here is a full spec model, which costs extra, but this line-up starts at just north of Dh131,000, which is respectable for a car with this much kit.

Hyundai as a brand may not have the kudos of some others, but there comes a time when you have to decide how much a badge means to you, and how much comfort you’ll lose because of it.

Updated: December 31, 2020 11:48 AM

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