“What a beautiful car!” The new KIA K900 is a good looking sedan that drew lots of attention wherever I drove it. The lines remind me of a BMW 740i of the last decade- and that is a good thing. The side emblems and chrome accents are a little Buick-like but all the medal accents are machined with precision and the body panels are flawless. Even our test car’s pearl white paint job was a cut above other sports sedans in this price range.
Speaking of which, the new 2015 KIA K900 V8 Luxury model starts at $59k and the V8 VIP with all the bells and whistles can climb up to $70k quickly. (The 3.8 liter K900 prices have not been released yet.) Thus, KIA has come to play in the big leagues. Continuing with KIA’s partnership with the NBA, philanthropist, businessman LeBron James stands next to the KIA K900 to promote the brand’s first rear-drive luxury sedan. I believe he could actually sit in the front seat and drive this car based on the ample legroom in both the front and back seats.
Yet, with all the right components of a luxury sedan, “luxury” is defined by how all this technology, leather, wood, and chrome comes together. KIA keeps things interesting with fresh styling and a 37,500-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance program. Not 36k or 40k but 37,500 miles! Unlike other manufacturers, KIA also includes their 10-year/100,000 mile new-car warranty and Roadside Assistance program.
So is this sedan a competitor with the likes of a Mercedes CLS, Audi A6, Acura RLX, or Jaguar XF? The short answer to the question is, yes! If ones tries to find a BMW 750 with a V-8, it moves well out of any price comparison. KIA’s K900 has the credentials to go head-to-head with these cars, and not just as a cheaper alternative. People expect to be pampered for this kind of money and KIA does not disappoint.
There are large, comfortable, and supportive Nappa leather seats (the white leather interior with white exterior is a nice touch), large displays, and a crystal clear digital instrument readout. A 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, including power lumbar support, is standard on both the V6 Premium and V8 Luxury models, and a 16-way power adjusted driver’s seat features power headrests and cushion extender for added thigh support as part of the V6 Technology Package and the V8 VIP Package.
KIA paid a lot of attention to the position of switches and buttons for simpler operation and even the multi-function steering wheel is well organized. There is a BMW-ish multi-control knob in the large center console that is fairly intuitive and the gear selector looks to be straight off the BMW parts shelf.
Yet, every control has a solid and precise tactile feel and hard plastic is hard to find in this attractive and very quiet interior. There are some parent company Hyundai Genesis and Equus styling cues here but Kia has done a good job of capturing their own flagship ambiance in the K900.
The K900 is a large sedan with real road presence and a long 119.9-inch wheelbase. It is being used as a limousine in Korea and would be considered too big for Europe’s narrow streets with a wide 63.8-inch front and 64.1-inch rear track. Unlike other “sport” sedans, the beltline is not so high that passengers sit too low in their seats. The feeling is airy with a greenhouse effect, especially when the panorama roof is open. More importantly, the roofline does not fall off too quickly towards the trunk so that people can actually get into and out of the rear seat without ducking their head.
When equipped, the rear seat is opulent with a center armrest control. This controls the ventilation system, folding the front passenger seat, power rear window sunshade and retractable rear side window sunshades, and more. Opting for the V8 VIP Package takes rear seat comfort to another level. Both seats offer multi-stage heating and cooling and have independent reclining seats.
Amenities include a 900-watt Lexicon high-fidelity audio system, Bluetooth® hands free audio sourcing, HD RadioTM, SiriusXM satellite radio, and all the connection ports. Audiophiles will love the Lexicon 12-channel digital amplifier and 17 speakers. KIA’s voice activated UVO eServices telematics software and the new 9.2-inch full-color screen make for easy access to navigation functions and communications. I found the voice integration fairly easy to master and response time was excellent.
Other nice touches include a standard power-operated trunk lid, proximity key system that “sees” the driver coming with lights and mirrors, and a nice song to wake up the car. The K900 V8’s standard 19-inch multi-spoke chrome wheels are wrapped with 245/45R-19 tires up front and 275/40R-19 tires at the rear. These are great looking from any angle and really set off the presence of the K900 even before they roll down the road. When on the road, the K900 feels solid. Period. With the adjustable five-link fully independent front and rear suspension, the K900 moves over all roads with control and comfort.
The whole unibody is mounted on a sub-frame to isolate road imperfections. Up front are coaxial coil-spring shock absorbers and a new friction bearing in the steering column. So the K900 tracks straight and true. KIA has configured the rear suspension with some negative camber for improved cornering, which it does well, but the driving experience is still very stately and controlled. There was no drama when I drove the K900 hard and the electronic stability computers did not snap the car back under control, but instead gently corrected the car to the original path of travel.
There are a host of electronic safety controls standard on the V8 such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system and a Blind Spot Detection (BSD) which uses the RCTA to warn of impending fender-benders. Opting for the VIP Package adds the new Surround View Monitor system which uses park-assist sensors and cameras that create an all-around view for parking. There is also a Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), radar-based Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), and KIA’s first Advanced Vehicle Safety Management (AVSM).
KIA’s press release reads, “Integrating the control of various vehicle monitoring systems, including the Electronic Stability Control (ESC), seatbelt mechanisms and multiple warning systems, the AVSM can alert the driver to danger, pre-pressurize the braking system and activate the Pre-Safe Belt (PSB) system, depending on the anticipated level of a collision risk. If a potential collision is detected, AVSM warns the driver in three stages: an audible alarm, a visual warning on both the HUD and TFT LCD cluster and a cinching of the front seatbelts.”
Every sports sedan needs some power to turn a set of rear wheels down the road. KIA uses a proven, Hyundai-developed, Tau DOHC all-aluminum 32-valve 5.0 liter engine. This engine uses gasoline direct injection and dual variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust sides to produce 420 horsepower. The intake system is quieter than most so noise under full acceleration is not dramatic either and torque power is delivered throughout the low and mid-range power band.
I was able to get more than 4,555 pounds of curb weight down road in a hurry, partly due to a very smooth 8-speed transmission. The driver-selected mapping in “normal” mode was just about perfect while the gear shifts in “sport” were very abrupt and busy. The ECO setting shifts up quickly to get the RPM’s down quickly and it depowers the engine slightly. Here, again, the changes are subtle and not very dramatic between “normal” and “ECO” so why not save a gallon of gas per mile? I averaged an impressive 22.3 mpg with 50% highway and 50% street driving. The system defaults to normal on start up and the steering assist varies from more boost to less through the ECO, Normal, and Sport modes.
“This year marks Kia Motors’ 20th anniversary in the U.S. market, and the all-new K900 is a symbol of how far the brand has come and the next bold example of the challenger spirit that has benefitted Kia over two decades of growth and maturation,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing, KMA. “Kia’s rise over the last five years has been fueled by a willingness to challenge the status quo with vehicles such as the Optima, Sorento and Cadenza, which have brought new and more affluent customers to our showrooms and dramatically raised the profile of the brand while maintaining our value proposition. The K900 is the next logical progression for Kia. It demonstrates what Kia is capable of and will help redefine what the Kia brand stands for.”
I would not argue with Sprague’s lofty assessment of KIA’s capability and current financial stability. The K900 demonstrates that they know how to build a nice lux-sports sedan. The standard adaptive LED headlights, LED daytime running lamps, and LED fog and tail lights steps up the wow factor and the K900 is a very long 200.6 inch and attractive vehicle inside and out.
The real question is whether the American public is ready for a $60,000-$70,000 KIA? I would recommend that if a large, capable, limousine-like sedan is in your future, put the K900 on your shopping list. Even KIA’s resale values are slowly gaining ground.
2015 Kia K900
2015 Kia K900 engine:
3.8L V6 DOHC Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI)
5.0L V8, DOHC Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI)
2015 Kia K900 displacement (CC)
3,778 (cc) 5,038 (cc)
2015 Kia K900 bore X stroke (MM)
96.0 x 87.0 mm 96.0 x 87.0 mm
2015 Kia K900 compression ratio
2015 Kia K900 horsepower
311 hp @ 6,000 rpm
420 hp @ 6,400 rpm
2015 Kia K900 torque
293 lb. ft. @ 5,000 rpm
376 lb. ft. @ 5,000 rpm
2015 Kia K900 Premium
2015 Kia K900 Luxury
MPG: 15 city / 23 highway