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2015 Kia K900 Rising Star - Pure Ambition +VIDEO

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2015 Kia K900

2015 Kia K900 Review
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

REDONDO BEACH, CA - June 6, 2014: The South Korean brand Kia is entering the luxury segment in a style that nobody would have thought possible two decades, or even just three years ago. Today’s first in depth drive of Kia’s luxury contender the K900, will you determine if it can stand it’s competitive ground in a segment historically dominated by the Germans.

The K900 a full-size luxury sedan is the new flagship and another ‘weapon’ that the South Koreans bring to the market to change the perception of the Kia brand. It is also the first model of the brand in the US with rear-wheel drive.

Notwithstanding the combination of a full size vehicle equipped with a V8-engine and a truly extensive list of standard equipment, the car maker says the K900 is not meant to go after the German brands. Kia spokesman James Hope said that; “their customers are happy and satisfied and do not want to change much so Kia is going after Lexus…”

Kia may be right in doing so, as recently, Lexus seemed to have backed off, when its US group vice president said to Ward Auto; “… Lexus won’t lead the premium sales again here anytime soon….”

The K900, sold in the South Korean market as K9, is based on the architecture of the Hyundai Genesis, just like its brother, the Hyundai Equus. They share the same 119.9-inch wheelbase, but the overall length of the K900 (200.6 inches) is 2.5 inches shorter than that of the Equus. Even though they are not identical, both models do share the engines and transmissions and several suspension components.

The K900 shares the , Hyundai-Kia family styling, initiated by Peter Schreyer, vice president of design. I like the “tiger nose” design and think it works well for the flagship’s large size. Nice also are the bold shaped adaptive head lights, each with eight LED lamps. But I have to admit Kia styling comes close to the design of BMW sedan’s front and rear end.

Time to start our drive.

Inside the roomy cabin, the atmosphere is sophisticated with Napa leather seats and trim, and a modest application of lovely walnut wood for the strips in the doors, center console and the upper part of the steering wheel.

There is another familiar feature, when I wanted to adjust my seat, the power adjustment is based in the door, just like in the Mercedes models. Also the controller and the surrounding buttons in the center console are BMW familiar; but it works well, and in my country we say: better well stolen than badly conceived.

Time to start the 5.0-liter direct-injected V8 engine, internally called Tau, which is the family name for the Hyundai/Kia aluminum 32-valve V8 power plants, featuring GDI (gasoline direct injection) and dual CVVT variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust. It is teamed to an 8-speed transmission that can be paddle shifted as well. It is a pity that the gear shift is counter intuitive: to put the transmission in reverse, you have to push the shifter forwards….

With 420 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque there is no lack of power nor push. The V8 deals with the weight of more than 4400 pounds without fail. The engine idles silently, the ride is quiet and comfortable driving through downtown LA and even relaxed (in ECO mode) while driving at speed on the freeways, but with the K900 you can also quickly “un-relax” instantly as the V8 is always ready to accommodate.

I drove with my colleague Jens Meiners on to Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica Mountains to road test the K900. First I changed the driving setting from Normal to Sport by pushing the Drive Mode button in the center console.

In Sport mode the dampers seem a bit stiffer, and the mapping of the automatic transmission is changed, as well as the sensitivity of the electric steering gear, but throttle response remains unchanged, going into sport mode also changes the color of the instrument panel as well as the set up that then highlight speed and revs. On the famous road that has been and is still used for many Hollywood films, the ride was controlled, it could have been more engaging, but hey, this is the company’s first exercise of a combination of rear wheel drive, a powerful V8 engine and a heavy weight luxury car. As history has shown already, we may expect a quick learning curve from Kia.

I could use some thousand words to mention the equipment of the K900, practically everything you would expect in this segment is there (and some thing you would not expect, like ashtrays for the rear seat passengers). From three zone automatic climate control with air filtration to UVO eServices with telematics, from blind spot detection to rear cross traffic alert, and from a panoramic sunroof with power shade to 19 inch chrome allow wheels.

My test vehicle was additionally equipped with the VIP Package ($ 6,000) with Head-up Display (a first for Kia), Surround view monitor, 12.3 full LCD TFT instrument cluster, smart cruise control and much more.

For $ 59,500 (MSRP) you will get an large truly luxury car, that looks really nice, drives well and has amazing equipment list, plus with a warranty of 10 year/100,000 miles, the whole package delivers luxurious peace of mind, especially for the customer who does not want (or have) a hundred thousand to spend.

My test drive was somewhat less fuel efficient than the EPA numbers of 15/23/18 mpg for city/highway/average. The V8 uses premium gas, but takes regular 95 octane just as easy.

For those who would like to have the K900 and save some on the gas, it is good to know that a V6 model is in the pipe line. It is my own guess that this 311 hp strong variant will arrive at the end of this year.

Watch the complete U.S. introduction of the Kia K900 at the L.A. Auto Show

Watch the Kia K900 on the road


Type/layout 3.8L V6 DOHC Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) 5.0L V8, DOHC Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI)
Displacement (cc) 3,778 (cc) 5,038 (cc)
Bore x stroke (mm) 96.0 x 87.0 mm 96.0 x 87.0 mm
Compression ratio 11.5:1 11.5:1
Horsepower 311 hp @ 6,000 rpm 420 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque 293 lb. ft. @ 5,000 rpm 376 lb. ft. @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
First 3.665:1 3.795:1
Second 2.396:1 2.473:1
Third 1.610:1 1.613:1
Fourth 1.19:1 1.177:1
Fifth 1.00:1 1.00:1
Sixth 0.826:1 0.831:1
Seventh 0.643:1 0.652:1
Eighth 0.556:1 0.571:1
Reverse 2.273:1 2.467:1
Final drive ratio 3.909:1 3.538:1
Layout/drive Front engine/RWD Front engine/RWD
Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase (in.) 119.9 in. 119.9 in.
Length (in.) 200.6 in. 200.6 in.
Width (in.) 74.8 in. 74.8 in.
Height (in.) 58.7 in. 58.7 in.
Track (in.), front/rear 63.6 in. / 64.3 in. 63.8 in. / 64.1 in.
Curb weight (lbs.) 4,277 lbs. 4,555 lbs.
Fuel capacity (gal.) 19.8 gal. 19.8 gal.
Interior Dimensions
Seating capacity 5 passenger 5 passenger
Head room, front/rear (in.) 40.2 in. / 37.6 in. 40.2 in. / 37.6 in.
Leg room, front/rear (in.) 45.9 in. / 38.2 in. 45.9 in. / 38.2 in.
Shoulder room, front/rear (in.) 59.1 in. / 57.2 in. 59.1 in. / 57.2 in.
Passenger volume (cu. ft.) 110.8 cu. ft. 110.8 cu. ft.
Cargo volume (cu. ft.) 15.9 cu. ft 15.9 cu. ft
Total volume (cu. ft.) 126.7 cu. ft. 126.7 cu. ft.
Front Multi-link type Multi-link type
Rear Multi-link type Multi-link type
Assist Electro-Hydraulic Electro-Hydraulic
Turns lock-to-lock 2.98 2.98
Steering ratio 15.8:1 15.8:1
Wheel size (in.) 18 x 7.5 19 x 9.0
Tire size (front; rear) 245/50R18; 245/50R18 245/45R19; 275/40R19
Estimated Fuel Economy
Fuel tank (gallons) 19.8 19.8
City/Highway (mpg) 18 / 27 15 / 23