picture post2002 Hyundai HCD-7 concept

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1986-92 Hyundai Grandeur

In 1986, Hyundai made their U.S. debut, solely offering the Excel. But Hyundai Motor Company was founded back in 1967 and by 1986, in South Korea, its domestic market, they were introducing a “luxury” sedan called Grandeur.

1992-98 Hyundai Grandeur

The first-generation Grandeur (previous image) was available from 1986 to 1992, the second (shown here) from 1992 to 1998. These two generations were co-developed with Mitsubishi which sold a version named Debonair. The arrangement, however, precluded exportation of the Grandeur.

2001-03 Hyundai XG

Hyundai’s third-generation was called Grandeur XG and development took place entirely in-house, without Mitsubishi’s involvement. Thus, exportation became a possibility. When their 2001 North American lineup was expanded from four to six models, a requisite SUV was added but so was the Grandeur bearing the name XG300 (later XG350, corresponding with an increase in engine displacement). But the XG was just the tip of Hyundai’s proverbial luxury ambition iceberg.

1997 Hyundai SLV concept

To keep things in perspective, clear up until 1997, Hyundai’s interpretation of elegance could be described politely as peculiar. Click to see the 1997 Hyundai SLV concept.

2002 Hyundai HCD-7 concept

Inexplicably, Hyundai presented this HCD-7 concept at the 2002 Chicago Auto Show. Hyundai says its body was inspired by an aircraft fuselage, its color was described as “warm silver.” While not world class in execution, the rate of design improvement was staggering. Incidentally, the name indicates it was the seventh concept to come from the Hyundai California Design Center. It was the last concept produced at the original Fountain Valley location, established in 1990, before relocating to Irvine.

2002 Hyundai HCD-7 concept

The HCD-7 concept had a 111.4-inch wheelbase and measured 195.3 inches overall. It was powered by a 270 hp, all-aluminum 32-valve V8, sent through a five-speed automatic, amzingly, to the HCD-7’s front wheels.

2002 Hyundai HCD-7 concept

Hyundai introduced it as “a concept of what might be the next step up from the company’s current XG350 sedan.” Few then could have conceived of their progress and the conception of Genesis, its premium brand. So, what became of Grandeur?

2006-10 Hyundai Azera

In the U.S., the XG350 became the massively-improved Azera but, on its home soil, it retained its Grandeur nameplate for this 2006, fourth iteration.

2015 Hyundai Azera

The naming scheme held true for its fifth generation, introduced for 2012. Hyundai can rightfully be proud of the Grandeur, even if it wears a less impressive name in the States. At least, in spirit, it should again have the distinction of being Hyundai’s flagship model, once its superiors jump ship to Genesis.