Instead of poring over slideshows, percentages and the minutiae typical of press conferences, Hyundai Motor America chief John Krafcik invited the automotive press on 27 March to join him for a reception befitting a TV chat show.

Krafcik also appealed to epicures by enlisting celebrity chef Tom Colicchio to prepare some nibbles for the assembled scribes.

The product-centric substance of Hyundai’s press conference was a mid-cycle refresh for its Equus flagship sedan. The changes are limited largely to the dashboard and primary controls, and is the second update to the car, coming two years after the addition of a larger-displacement V8 engine.

The Equus, on sale in the US since 2010, is Hyundai’s attempt to penetrate the luxury market at a discount. While other mainstream brands have attempted similar strategies via separate sub-brands, Hyundai is unlikely to follow suit.

“There have been plenty of iconic cars out there that have had their own brand feeling, without necessarily putting the mothership badge on the car,” said Hyundai chief designer Chris Chapman, citing the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette as other examples.

The marque, which has worked to regain brand equity following reports of misleading fuel-economy claims in 2012 and a massive campaign to strengthen customer loyalty, invited owners and dealers to the floor to share their voices.

“When you think about purchase reasons beyond product itself, right below that is warranty, service and ownership experience,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, corporate and product planning.