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2015 Kia K900 Debut

Volkswagen Phaeton redux or the start of something truly innovative?

2014 Kia Cadenza Research Click to hide

What's New

Korean people are proud, to say the very, very least. They want their products--be they tires, cell phones, refrigerators, or cars--to be the best in the world, or at least thought of in the same light as American and European wares.

To do that, they've been going gradually upmarket. On the Hyundai side, that's included the Genesis sedan and Equus flagship. But on Kia's side, the affiliate brand of Hyundai, that's meant adding a $37,000 Optima Limited, a $42,000 Kia Cadenza, and now this, a full-size, rear-wheel-drive flagship sedan that's going to cost upwards of $50,000 and probably well into the 60s, if not low 70s. Called the 2015 Kia K900, it's the Americanized version of the Kia K9/Quoris that's been on sale overseas for nearly two years, and it's coming to the U.S. to do battle with the likes of the Lexus LS and BMW 7 Series whether you're ready for it or not.

Who It's For

Judging by the amalgamation of styling cues that look to have been borrowed from the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, and Lexus LS, we're going to assume that's where Kia is aiming this car. Most of those offerings cost well above were we anticipate the K900 price will be, so assume that this car will also target the next rung of players down like the Cadillac XTS, Acura RLX, and BMW 5 Series as well.

As with the Hyundai Equus, we expect that this car will be for value-minded shoppers, and we're eager to see how Kia markets this car and what incentives it provides to get people into the same showrooms as Kia Rio owners. When Volkswagen tried selling a $65,000 luxury car in the form of its Phaeton, the market scoffed. Will Kia repeat the same mistakes VW made, or will it be able to attract affluent, yet value-minded, shoppers?

Key Features

Just because it's cheaper than much of its competition doesn't mean it's any less lavishly equipped. Features include:
  • Kia's first use of active cruise control with automatic brake assist.
  • A 3.8-liter V-6 or 5.0-liter V-8. The V-6 will be good for 311 horsepower, and the V-8 antes up 420 horsepower.
  • A massive panoramic sunroof.
  • A premium version of UVO that uses a scroll wheel similar to BMW's iDrive instead of a touchscreen
  • Full LED headlights on all but the standard model. Once again, Premium and Technology packages will be offered, as well as a VIP package.

What We Think

We've known about this car for some time, and we've known it was coming to the U.S. for some time. That said, we're still not sure if it'll be a success here. Is the U.S. ready for a $60,000 Kia?

The 2015 Kia K900 has a lot going for it, including its looks, technology, and its anticipated price. It even has a front passenger seat that can fold forward at the request of the rear passenger to allow for more space--optionally, of course. But it doesn't have the panache of many of its competitors, or at least what we assume will be its competitors. Without official pricing, we're left in the dark, but we've heard rumblings of a price similar to that of the BMW 5 Series with the space of a 7 Series. This car is as much a leap of faith as any in recent memory, and we know that the Korean managers of Kia are nothing less than ambitious when it comes to expanding their company's image and sales numbers.

Just in Korea, where Hyundai and Kia have an almost captive market, shoppers 1) will never drive their own car--they have chauffeurs--and 2) don't see their home-market cars the way we do. To us, Kia is seen as a spunky, youthful brand, like Mazda. We have hamsters as spokespeople for our Kias; the Koreans have violins and elegant advertisements. There's a disconnect, and it's one that we wonder if Kia can bridge by the time the K900 goes on sale here. We'll surely find out soon enough.

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