Kia’s all-new luxury flagship sedan goes on sale in Korea today, powering the brand into an entirely new segment of the global automotive landscape.
We are, of course, talking about the recently revealed Kia K9
, which shares its platform with the equally-luxurious Hyundai Equus and was styled by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer.
To differentiate it from its Hyundai sibling, the K9 forgoes a V-8 and relies instead on a 3.8-liter V-6 rated at 285 horsepower.
A more powerful version of this engine, based on the direct-injected unit found in several Hyundai models and rated at 330 horsepower, will be offered when the K9 reaches global markets early next year.
Every K9 comes with Kia’s all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The wide spread of gear ratios guarantees brisk acceleration and high-speed refinement, while shift-by-wire technology with a joystick control promises fast, smooth gear changes. Four driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow) enable the driver to choose a preferred set-up of suspension, steering, engine and transmission ideal for various road conditions or driving styles.
Kia boasts that the K9 has a near-perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution, which is joined by a stiff bodyshell composed mostly of high-strength steel. The K9 also benefits from electronically controlled air suspension with five-link front and rear suspension geometry. The body, which stretches some 16.7 feet in length, also has a relatively slippery 0.27 coefficient of drag.
When it goes on sale in overseas markets, the K9 will premiere a range of advanced luxury features and technologies for the Kia brand. Depending on trim level, available features include adaptive all-LED headlights, lane-departure and blind-sport warning systems, active cruise control and a camera-based around-view monitor. Other features, either available or standard, include a 12.3-inch central display, a head-up display, twin 9.2-inch monitors to entertain rear seat occupants and a 17-speaker Lexicon (by Harman) sound system.
If that wasn’t enough, a special ‘VIP’ option will offer twin heated and ventilated rear seats with a reclining backrest, sliding cushion and lower leg support for the ‘nearside’ seat, together with a front passenger seat that slides forwards when unoccupied.
Kia is yet to confirm if the K9 will be sold in the U.S., but considering the following statement from Soon-Nam Lee, Kia’s overseas marketing chief, “This all-new rear-wheel drive large sedan will definitely become the leading model of our lineup around the world, showcasing the best of the best of Kia,” it certainly would be strange if it didn’t. If it does land here, expect it to come in below the $58,750 starting price of the Hyundai Equus, and bear a new name.