If you still associate the name, Kia, with econocars and quirky, low-priced models like the Soul, you’re likely to go into sticker shock when you get a look at the new Kia K900.
This first look at the large luxury sedan was accompanied by an unusually terse press release revealing little more than the fact that the Kia K900 will officially be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.
The Korean carmaker also revealed the premium luxury sedan will go on sale “next year and (will)) be available with either a V-6 or V-8 engine.”
But a significant number of details have already begun leaking out about the K900 which is already on sale in the home Korean market under the nameplate Kia K9.
The K900 will leapfrog the current Kia flagship, the recently redesigned Cadenza – as well as the similar Azera model offered by sibling Korean carmaker Hyundai. In fact, it also pushes past the Hyundai Genesis, which will undergo a complete remake next year.
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What Kia has come up with is, in fact, its own take on the big Hyundai Equus, a premium luxury sedan meant to go up against the likes of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. For a brand that was historically associated with econoboxes, the K900 could require a significant leap of faith by potential buyers. Then again, Hyundai has scored a much bigger hit with the Equus than many skeptics had originally anticipated.
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As with other Korean products, the Kia K900 will still be targeted as something of a value proposition, at least compared to German and Japanese alternatives that can push into the six-figure range. That said, the maker has been hinting that the K900 won’t come cheap, with a price tag expected to nonetheless push as high as $70,000 or so when well-equipped.
Don’t expect quite the range of features found on the new 2014 Mercedes S-Class, such as its “Magic Ride Control” suspension, or all the many near-autonomous safety features. But, like the Equus, the Kia K900 will likely offer enough high-tech content – as well as plenty of traditional luxury features, such as leather and wood – to make a case for being in the premium segment.
The strategy, Kia officials recently suggested, is to offer “a (BMW) 7-Series value for a 5-series price.”
Among the many questions Kia may answer at the L.A. Auto Show is whether it will adopt some of the unique selling practices that have played so well for Hyundai’s Equus. The larger of the Korean makers will go as far as having a sales associate meet with a potential customer wherever they’re most comfortable, rather than forcing shoppers to come to the showroom.
Another question is just how ambitious Kia will get with the K900. Hyundai initially held down its aspirations for the Equus, and has been happily delivering between 2,000 and 3,000 a year, a sales pace that makes the unusually sales and service approach manageable. But the smaller Kia seems to have some outsized ambitions, and reports suggests it may push to sell as many as 5,000 of its own premium luxury model each year.
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As for the revelation that the K900 will be available in V-6 or V-8 form, that’s no surprise as Kia shares powertrains with its big brother brand. Look for the top-line Tau 5.0-liter V-8 as well as the smaller, 3.8-liter Lambda V-6.
Kia is expected to start marketing the K900 during next year’s Super Bowl, around the same time the first K900 sedans roll into U.S. showrooms.