In terms of performance, looks, fit and finish, and most of all ride quality and comfort, the Azera, just launched in SA, is as good as most of the German and British cars it's pitched against in price, and better than most of them when it comes to interior and boot space.
At a price of just under R300 000 this Mercedes E-Class sized vehicle, with its lusty quad cam 3.3-litre CVVT V6 engine developed in conjunction with DaimlerChrysler and a techno list that belies its Korean origins is ready to take on all-comers in the luxury car race.
And it's got impressive credentials. Such as a 173 kW power output coupled with 303 Nm of torque to give a top speed of 230 km/h, with the zero to 100 km/h dash in just 7.3 seconds.
Overall fuel consumption is 10.2 litres/100 km, and there's a useful 75 litre fuel tank.
Plus ABS brakes with EBD, and electronic stability programme, and no fewer than eight airbags for safety.
The list of features that includes ruched leather, wood grain finish, and aluminium trim, full dual climate control aircon, electric windows and heated mirrors - the former auto up and down for driver and front passenger.
The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, coupled with electrically operated seats with two memories and electric lumbar support adjustment for the driver.
The memories are also integrated with the steering column adjustments so it can slide in and up when you get out for easier access, then return to your personal settings, and with your mirror settings.
Steering is power assisted and speed sensitive.
Alloy spare wheel
There are 17 inch alloy wheels as standard shod with 235/55 x R17 tyres, and there's a full-size alloy spare (hurrah!). Big disc brakes are fitted front and rear, the former ventilated, but the parking brake is foot controlled, as per Mercedes and most American cars.
Other features include central locking with remote operation, rear park assist, lockable 60/40 split folding rear seats with a centre folding armrest that incorporates cupholders, lockable remote electric boot release, front and rear foglights, height adjustable headlamps, and automatic operation of lights and wipers.
Boot capacity is 523 litres with the seats in place, using the VDA measurement method.
The audio system features six Infinity speakers and consists of a front-loader CD/radio with MP3 compatibility, plus remote controls on the steering wheel, and there's speed control, also controlled via the steering wheel, which is trimmed with wood and leather.
As mentioned the engine is a smooth and powerful 24-valve V6 producing 173 kW at 6 000 r/min and 303 Nm of torque at 3 500 r/min and this is coupled with a sweet shifting 5-speed automatic gearbox with sequential manual option.
Suspension sees double wishbones at the front and a multi-link independent rear with anti-roll bar, plus SACHS gas shocks.
On the road
When you approach the car you can be forgiven for remarking that it reminds you very much of a Mercedes from some angles, a BMW from others. I think it's SUPPOSED to.
Styling is neat and modern, and it certainly doesn't look out of place outside a 5-star hotel.
The lights are slim and wide, with polycarbonate covers and headlamps that have no fewer than four bulbs in all.
At the back there's more than a touch of 7 Series in the boot line, while the rear lights and high level brakes lights have LEDs instead of bulbs.
Inside there's a feeling of spaciousness, and Hyundai claims it's bigger inside than a BMW 5 Series.
It certainly feels it, and it's also just as comfortable, especially in the back where I think there's a LOT more space than either the 5 Series or the E-Class.
The dashboard is neatly laid out, with the instrument binnacle right in front of the driver, and a centre console extending between the seats that's trimmed with aluminium.
The wood-look trim is discreet and melds well with the leather and up-market plastics.
Instruments comprise a big speedo flanked on one side by a smaller revcounter and on the other by fuel and temperature gauges. There's also a digital clock and a trip computer.
He engine is extremely quiet when pulling off, and it never gets obtrusive.
In fact that's a big plus factor in this car - NOTHING intrudes, such are the high levels of noise, vibration and harshness suppression, including extra thick windows glass.
The doors close with a discreet "thunk" and you don't have to raise your voice to be heard even at high speeds.
Handling is good, but the suspension errs more towards comfort than sportiness, with understeer the ultimate reaction to spirited driving.
An anti roll bar at the front, and a thicker one at the back, would cure it, but perhaps at the expense of ride comfort.
The Azera comes standard with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty and 5 year/100 000 km maintenance plan.
The Azera is a fine motor car, and one which will suit those who put common sense ahead of ego and the need to project their personalities through their cars.
Certainly it falls well within the perks tax limit for car allowances, while its reasonable pricing will appeal to those who don't want to pay through the nose for the privilege of driving a company car.
It's comfortable, it's powerful, and it won't break the bank.
All you have to do to convince yourself is get your bum into a seat and drive one!
Price: R299 900.