Taking on the big guns
Hyundai’s amazing Centennial luxury salon wil be more than a litle worrying for the big luxury players
The old adage goes ‘if it’s cheap, it’s cheap for a reason’. In other words, if something is incredibly cheap, it’s either not real or not put together properly.
This general rule of thumb can easily be attributed to the car industry, as luxury cars cost a lot of money, because they are, well, luxurious. Anything that is cheap can make all the claims it wants, but it’ll never live up to expectations.
Well, Korean manufacturer Hyundai has blown that rule right out of the water. The company has, over the years, crept under the radar, past all the big names, to become one of the big boys, and now ranks as the fourth largest car producer in the world. But the biggest surprise is its flagship Centennial, which doesn’t even get a Hyundai badge on it.
The Centennial was initially built by Hyun-
dai to take on the old guard of Mercedes’ S Class, BMW’S 7-Series and Audi’s A8, but by definition also goes head to head with the Lexus LS460 and VW Phaeton. That’s quite a line-up and you might be right in thinking that perhaps Hyundai was setting its sights a little high, but the spec sheet says differently.
For your money, you get a 5.0-litre V8 driving the rear wheels, via an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox. The engine is good for 417 hp and 495 Nm of torque. You also get a head-up display, air suspension, power boot lid, solar glass, rear and side electric curtains, xenon lamps, 360-degree camera, rear TV monitors, rain sensors, and a reclining rear seat, where the front seat moves itself out of the way to give you more room. On top of that, you get a range of safety systems, including blind spot assist and Hyundai’s allencompassing AVSM system. Frankly, that’s a very long list of safety and luxury options that rivals all of the closest competitors.
But now here’s the key fact. Despite having a list of options as long as your arm, the fully loaded Centennial is just AED 259,900. Quite how Hyundai can build the car for that amount is anyone’s guess, but the company has and it works.
It also looks good, although the bonnet emblem (which you can specify to be just a badge, thankfully) is a bit over-the-top. The rear is neat and tidy and the front very purposeful.
Inside, it’s a sea of leather, wood and smooth surfaces, all extremely well put together. It’s clear Hyundai hasn’t cut any corners despite the low price. It all feels ‘expensive’ and very well built indeed.
On the road it’s smooth and rapid, although the gearbox isn’t as quick as some of its rivals. It also immediately under steers if you try to corner too quickly, but that’s a common trait with all large luxury saloons. Weight is weight. You can’t just pretend it isn’t there. Physics will always take over.
Tempting BMW and Mercedes buyers to trade in their S Class’ and 7-Series’ is going to be a tough call. These owners are loyal and love the badge on their particular brand. Where the Centennial will do well, is against the likes of Lexus and Volkswagen with their Phaetons and LS 460s. It may also tempt other smaller luxury saloon buyers to upgrade from their German mid-sized cars.
Either way, this is one seriously specced up car that sets a worrying trend for the luxury saloon establishment.