2015 Kia K900 V-8

2015 Kia K900 V-8 2015 Kia K900 V-8
First Drive Review

The 2015 K900 could be the car that changes Kia forever. The car that elevates what has been a value-oriented brand to the top tier of luxury automakers. In a few short months, as the V-8–powered K900 hits about a third of Kia’s 765-ish U.S. showrooms, the Korean maker’s name may begin to be spoken in the hushed tones now afforded to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce. It could happen. But it probably won’t.

It’s not that the large, rear-drive K900 isn’t a good car—it is good, and a good luxury car—it’s just not that good. This is Kia’s next step up the prestige ladder, but it’s not a leap to the top. Kia still isn’t an “aspirational brand,” but it’s no longer a brand for which one must settle. After selling cars in America for 20 years, Kia is a car company that buyers can rely on. And now they can rely on Kia to sell them a big luxury sedan.

At 200.6 inches long, the K900 is 4.3 inches longer than its close corporate cousin, the outgoing Hyundai Genesis. (Hyundai just introduced an all-new 2015 Genesis.) More relevant, the K900’s 119.9-inch wheelbase is exactly the same as that of the even larger Hyundai Equus, although the K900 is 2.5 inches shorter overall. The K900 is closer in size to a BMW 7-series than it is to a 5-series, and at $66,400 for the V-8 model, it’s priced in the vicinity of a 550i.

The K900 isn’t, strictly speaking, Kia’s version of the Equus. But it’s close. Close enough that they share engines, transmissions, and much of their chassis design and suspension components. Only V-8–powered K900s will be available when the car launches this spring. A V-6 model, Kia promises, will follow a few months later.

The K900 looks like a slightly overinflated Cadenza, which itself has the appearance of a thick-shouldered Optima. The K900 is handsome, and many details like the LED elements residing in the headlight buckets are interesting. But there’s a heaviness to how it’s sculpted that seems to fight against the more established—and more playful—Kia design elements.

It Has Luxury Stuff

It takes a firm heave to open the driver’s door simply because there’s so much steel in it. Inside, the cockpit is finished in acres of supple nappa leather, and as in virtually every other current luxury car, the K900 carries a thick load of gadgetry that runs from a heated steering wheel to an LCD that constitutes the instrumentation. A 9.2-inch navigation screen dominates the center of the dash. The cabin is attractive and seems well assembled, although there’s nothing in the design that seems particularly distinctive.

The center screen displays a neat bird’s-eye mosaic of what’s surrounding the car when it backs up (similar to Nissan’s system), the car emits a pleasant chime as it starts up or shuts down, and the rear seats—when equipped with the full-boat VIP package—are roomy, offer power recline, are heated and ventilated, and flank a rear center armrest dotted with various environmental controls. The front seats are power-adjustable thrones. Accommodations are what this car does best.