Hyundai has just unveiled the new Equus. Priced between about £70,000 and £80,000 in its home market, it is the most expensive car ever produced by the Korean manufacturer.

With its five-litre V8 engine, it is aimed at the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class; a special bullet-proof version will be used by the Korean president. Hyundai says that the Equus is unlikely to be imported into the UK.

Given the rapid progress being made by the Korean manufacturers, Hyundai's ability to make a convincing car for this price bracket isn't in doubt. On the other hand, experience shows that even when the mainstream car-makers produce vehicles that are as good as those from the prestige brands, these struggle to be taken seriously by badge-conscious buyers – the best recent example being the Volkswagen Phaeton.

The most expensive model in Hyundai's current UK line-up is the rarely-seen £27,000 Genesis saloon; the Grandeur, which slots into the Hyundai range between the Genesis and the Equus, isn't sold here at all. In the long-run, if it is to compete convincingly at the top end in Europe, Hyundai probably needs to create its own luxury brand – as Toyota did with Lexus – or acquire one of the existing premium manufacturers. Both of these options are expensive, but neither would be beyond the resources of Hyundai-Kia, which is now the fourth largest car-maker in the world.

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