If you want a large, plush family saloon with all the trappings of a premium car but for a lot less money, there are quite a few great options on the market today. From the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima to the Chevrolet Impala and the Kia Cadenza, the segment is brimming with brilliant models. Hyundai’s contender in this class, the Azera, had grown long in the tooth amid vastly improved competition. This week, the Korean carmaker unveiled the Middle East version of the latest iteration of the Azera.

Into its sixth generation, the large saloon is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor. But the highlight of the version launched here is that it comes with a larger, more powerful engine than is available anywhere else in the world. The 2018 Azera is being sold everywhere else with a 3.0-litre V6 making 261 horsepower, but the Middle East version gets a 3.5-litre V6 that’s good for 290 horsepower, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

“When we look at buyers in this segment, we see clear demand for extra power in the Middle East when compared with other markets internationally. Hyundai has taken this feedback very seriously, and our engineers have provided a unique specification that will give the Azera even more appeal to the region’s customers,” says Mike Song, Hyundai’s head of operations for Africa and the Middle East.
The Azera now sports the brand’s new signature design with the ‘Cascading’ grille up front and taillamps that spread across the width of the rear. Hyundai claims the bodywork is stronger, with advanced construction methods increasing torsional rigidity by 23.2 per cent, and overall chassis rigidity by 34 per cent, compared with the outgoing model.

It’s also packed with all the latest tech features including Android Auto and Apple Car Play, wireless mobile phone charging, a head-up display, automatic dehumidification and fog detection, and a high-performance filtration system to prevent dust particles from entering the cabin.

Safety is also given priority with nine airbags protecting both front and rear occupants, along with a rear impact reduction system for the front seats and features like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Keeping Assist System, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and Around View Monitor. Look out for a test drive in one of the coming issues.