2014 Hyundai Centennial | road test

Posted on May 12, 2014 by
2014 Hyundai Centennial
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  • Centennial
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  • Last modified: December 10, 2014
  • Exterior
    Editor: 80%
  • Interior
    Editor: 90%
  • Quality
    Editor: 90%
  • Features
    Editor: 85%
  • Performance
    Editor: 85%
  • Value for money
    Editor: 95%

Review Summary:

The is Korea's epitome of luxury. It is what the Rolls-Royce is to the British and what the S-Class is to the German's. But unlike the aforementioned vehicles which fall way out of the budget for majority of us, the Centennial is affordable.


* Extremely well priced for the features it packs in.
* Interior materials are of top-notch quality.


* Shocking to discover the brand's flagship sedan lacks Daytime Running Lights, a panoramic roof and a massage option.
* Sports Mode is about as sporty as a game of X and O.
* Overenthusiastic sensors beep intermittently resonating through the cabin like a dial-up connection is being made.

Introduction & Summary

The Hyundai Centennial is a full-size luxury sedan that serves as the brand’s flagship model and faces competition from numerous vehicles including its Japanese cousin, the Lexus LS. Currently in its second generation, the Centennial is the most expensive model in the brand’s line-up and is the epitome of Korean luxury.

2014 Hyundai Centennial

With the keys to Korea’s finest vehicle in our hands, we decided to stay off the highways, steer away from malls and do something a little different. Touring the Emirates and exploring parts of this land we call home, was how we spent our weekend.

Styling & Design

You can walk around it once, twice, or even thrice if you please, but if you’re looking for a Hyundai demarcation, you’d be sorry to know, there aren’t any. Instead, there’s Hyundai’s version of the Spirit of Ecstasy and when finished in Onix Black paint with 19 inch turbine wheels as our test car was, the Centennial does one thing very well; making people take an about-turn in their seat as you drive past and leaving them with not much more than the most baffled of expressions on their faces.

2014 Hyundai Centennial

Measuring in at 5,160mm, the Centennial is significantly longer than its Japanese rival, the Lexus LS. Using its dimensions to their advantage, the designers have created ripples and streaks that radiate a sense of royalty and based solely on the rarity of the Centennial, it scores a lot more points than its competitors in terms of road presence.

Within the cabin, it’s a unification of materials as plush leather from the seats and armrests, suede from the headliner and pillars, and plenty of wood trim from the door panels and dashboard, come together to create something that would have never been expected from the brand ten years ago.


Tailored for VIP’s and CEO’s, the rear seats in the Centennial are akin to that of First Class cabins in major airlines. Reclining seats that cool and heat, reading lights that have been integrated into the suede roof liner, electric curtains along the windows and two 9.2 inch LCD’s that control everything from the 17 speaker Lexicon sound system to the navigation system, are just some of the toys rear passengers get to indulge in.

2014 Hyundai Centennial rear console

Ensuring the driver stays focused at all times, the 2014 Hyundai Centennial packs in a brilliant Heads-Up-Display unit that not only projects the speed, but information pertaining to the blind spots of the vehicle as well. By doing so, the driver never needs to take their eyes off the road and is always aware of the vehicle’s current speed and blind spots at any given moment.

Unlike most vehicles that require you to stop, dig out the owner’s manual, consult your tech savvy friend and finish a diploma in wireless technology before you understand how to connect your phone to the Bluetooth system, the one fitted in the Centennial is ultra-simple and definitely one that can be operated by those belonging to Generation X.

2014 Hyundai Centennial

But that’s not to say the full-size Korean sedan doesn’t have its issues. Due to the physical distance between the rear A/C vents and the rear seats, it’s always a lot warmer in the back than it is in the front. And though you can effortlessly increase the strength of the A/C from the rear console, it is done at the risk of giving your chauffeur and the front seat passenger a frost bite.

Additionally, you have to question why the Korean’s omitted fitting the Centennial (their flagship sedan) with features such as a panoramic roof and a massaging seat when they could very well be found in the parts bin of other Hyundai models.

Performance, Ride & Handling

Under the hood of the luxury sedan resides a rather special power plant, a 5.0 litre engine that has earned its place on Ward’s 10 Best Engines list for three consecutive years. Whipping out 420 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 495 Nm of torque at 5,000 RPM, power is channeled through an eight speed shift-by-wire transmission and is delivered in a linear fashion to the rear wheels, irrespective of whether Normal, Sport or Snow driving modes have been selected.

2014 Hyundai Centennial

Eliminating imperfections in the road and gliding over speed humps is definitely a requirement in the luxury segment and it just so happens, that it is also one of the Centennial’s strongest points. Though equipped with a multi-link suspension set-up at the front and rear, you’d be forgiven if you were to remove the wheels, grab a flashlight and check if it used packs of butter instead.

Hopping the Emirates with the adaptive cruise control system on, the Korean sedan felt very much at home, be it on the highway or patches of unpaved road, and kindly bartered 100 kilometers in exchange for 16 litres of fuel. But here’s the good part, because one tank of Octane 98 delivers an average 700 kilometres, it is unlikely that you’ll be pulling into the ever so crowded pumps all that often.

2014 Hyundai Centennial

Keen to put the Centennial through its paces, we decided to venture to Ras Al Khaimah and scale Jabal Al Jais, a road that features more twists than a twisted marshmallow and a road that is probably more befitting a bright red Italian racehorse that can be heard from miles away. With Sports mode activated and the instrument panel flaunting a red hue, we set off. Although power was being sent to the rear wheels, there was none of that hooliganism associated with rear wheel drive vehicles. Sure, gears were held on longer than usual and power was aplenty, but it still wafted around the corners and refused to kick its tail out.

Comfort & Practicality

As far as comfort goes, Hyundai has really gone to town with the Centennial. While the driver is gifted a 16 way power adjustable seat that is completely electronic (headrests included), rear seat royalty is bestowed with a reclining seat that almost goes flat and a refrigerator to keep refreshments cool during the summer.

2014 Hyundai Centennial interior

As a result of improved wheel rigidity and redesigned wing mirrors, the Centennial possesses the ability to eliminate one of your most used senses; hearing. Wind noise, road noise, transmission noise, engine noise; none of these are terms found in the luxury Korean sedan’s vocabulary.

Measuring in at 473 litres, the boot is capacious and though not as spacious as the Lexus LS at 509 litres, it is definitely big enough to carry a month of grocery shopping, or a couple of bad debtors, if you get our drift…

Price & Verdict

You’re probably sick of hearing the Hyundai Centennial being referred to as a knockoff BMW or a wanna-be Mercedes and you should be, because we’re sick of reading it. Over the years, Korean automobiles have built their own identity and based solely on the value they offer, they’re thrashing competitors left, right and centre all over the world.

2014 Hyundai Centennial

At the end of the day, if Mitsubishi can go from shipbuilding to automobile manufacturing and Lamborghini can go from building agricultural equipment to supercars, there’s no reason why Hyundai can’t go from building Econo-boxes to some brilliant luxury vehicles too. More importantly, when the Koreans offer the same features for half the cost of its Japanese rivals and one-third the cost of its German rivals, what’s there to complain about?

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