BMW and Audi, THIS is how to do a big grille.
While Hyundai has come to excel at pumping out accomplished SUVs - and even sportier hatchbacks in the case of the Veloster N - the brand's few large and luxurious sedans haven't quite hit the same sweet spots. This could all be set to change thanks to the first glimpse we've had of the facelifted, full-size Azera sedan (known as the Grandeur in other markets), with a design said to be inspired by the marque's Le Fil Rouge concept car.
It's a welcome departure from the previous Hyundai Azera which exited the US market a couple of years ago - that car was burdened with typically generic Korean car styling. The new Azera couldn't be further removed, both inside and out. Like the Le Fil Rouge, the headlamps are strikingly integrated into the diamond-studded grille design. The brand seems to be quite proud of that face, as there's a conspicuously large iteration of the Hyundai badge in the center of the grille.
When the headlamps are switched off, they blend in perfectly with the grille, a so-called 'Hidden Lighting Lamp' design. The detailing is also less brash and more cohesive than what Audi and BMW are doing with their giant, chromed grille designs. The side profile is a bit less successful, with a rather heavy-looking rear three-quarter view and slabby sides. Length has increased, with the large sedan now stretching to 196.4 inches. The brand's new 'Sensuous Sportiness' design language makes more of an impact at the back, which almost matches the facade for visual drama.
The taillights stretch across the entire width of the rear in an uninterrupted swoop, although we'd love to see what the effect looks like in daylight. There's a lot happening in the cabin, too, and it seems Hyundai has borrowed some cues from more esteemed marques while giving the interior its own character. The dual 12.3-inch screens are pure Mercedes, while metal-look strips running through the air vents remind of the Lexus LS. A leather-wrapped center console and a Shift by Wire (SBW) transmission are other unique touches, creating additional storage solutions beneath the console.
All in all, the updated Azera looks like a super effort from the Korean brand, easily banishing memories of the competent but staid previous-generation model. The question is: will we get to experience the Azera on home soil? As this is a comprehensive facelift and not an all-new model, it's unlikely. So far, the only clue is that the brand filed a trademark for the Grandeur name with the US Patent and Trademark office last year. Either way, if the Azera drives with the same authority as its arresting design dictates, it's Hyundai's best shot yet at making an impact in this class.