Kia’s K9 barks at the premium brandsComment on this story
Despite the fact that it's called the K9, Kia's all-new flagship sedan appears to be anything but a dog.
Lacking originality if anything, there's more than a few hints of BMW's 'Hofmeister kink' in the rear doors, and its front and back ends may lead to the onset of déjà vu for 5 Series GT owners, but this Kia's imitation is probably more flattering than fugly.
The K9 has just gone on sale in South Korea and along with that Kia has released some detailed information about the car, which will reach export markets later this year. However Kia SA says it has no concrete plans to bring it to South Africa, but the company is “looking at it”.
Either way, the 'canine' will need to be renamed for foreign markets and Kia has even asked the public for name suggestions via its Facebook page.
Measuring 5.09 metres in length and 1.9m in width, the K9 is roughly the size of a standard-wheelbase BMW 7 Series, although V8 power is not part of the equation for now.
Initial versions will be powered by a 213kW 3.8-litre V6 engine, with a 246kW direct injection 3.8 set to join the range next year. Power is channelled to the rear wheels via an all-new (for Kia) eight-speed automatic transmission that's said to deliver fast and smooth gear changes via its shift-by-wire technology and 'joystick' control.
The big Kia's arsenal of luxury and safety equipment includes Smart Cruise Control (which we assume is radar-based), Blind-Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, an Around-View Monitor with four cameras and a 17-speaker Harman sound system.
While none of this stuff is new among the German brigade, Kia is at least offering some of the features that buyers at this level would expect - and Kia is not shy about competing here.
“K9 is a clear signal of our intention and determination to compete head-to-head with the European luxury brands,” says Kia's chief design officer Peter Schreyer.
“The class-leading long wheelbase, the prestige distance, large wheels, sharply upright short overhangs and a long sweeping shoulder line all work together in a harmony to give K9 a sporty, athletic proportion and a confident stance quintessential to a premium large rear-wheel drive vehicle,” Schreyer explained.
Surprising as some of the Korean carmaker's latest models have been, we have to wonder whether the Kia badge can really compete anywhere near this level. What do you think?