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First Look: Kia K9 Luxury Flagship

Is the maker barking up the right tree with its latest push up-market?

by on Feb.28, 2012

Kia will launch a new rear-drive flagship, the K9.

Kia has been doggedly moving up-market, in recent years, and with the launch of its new K9 luxury flagship it will mark a dramatic shift from the cheap-and-cheerful little econoboxes that used to define the Korean carmaker’s line-up.

The formal announcement of the rear-drive model echoes the strategy followed by sibling brand Hyundai, which scored big with the launch of the big Genesis sedan in 2007, and last year’s launch of the even larger and more upscale Equus.

While Kia isn’t releasing details on the K9, it’s believed to be sharing many of the same underpinnings – and powertrain options – of the rear-drive Hyundai line, such as the 5.0-liter direct-injection V-8 offered in both the Genesis and Equus.

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Though traditional Korea buyers might be surprised to see such a large and lavishly equipped offering at their local Kia showroom the new K9 won’t seem completely unfamiliar.  It features the brand’s stock pinched grille and fender vents.  But the overall design feel is more elegant if not exactly all-new.  There is at least one place where the maker nudges the cutting edge, opting for LED headlamps as well as taillights, technology the rest of the luxury market is just migrating to.


Kia Sketches Out New Rear-Drive Flagship Sedan

Genesis anyone?

by on Feb.13, 2012

Kia's new KH flagship will roll into the Korean domestic market by mid-year.

Like its Korean sibling, Kia is moving up-market and is offering up a first series of sketches hinting at what’s to come when its new rear-drive flagship sedan rolls into showrooms in the coming months.

The look of the new 4-door, codenamed KH, is likely to be familiar, echoing the design language that Kia premiered with the popular new Optima sedan.  But the new model, which the maker dubs “distinctive, modern and classic,” is aimed to move the brand – long known for cheap and cheerful econboxes – into decidedly different territory.

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The move is similar to what Hyundai achieved only a few years back with the introduction of its first-generation Genesis sedan, which was notably the first Korean model to win the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy.  Like other Kia products, the new KH will share its underlying architecture with Hyundai, though the brands are pushing hard to develop distinctly different styling languages.