Kia K9 launches in Korea, export model to get new name
We so wanted to lead this post with a Jim Belushi joke. Alas, the Kia press release announcing the launch of its rear-drive flagship in Korea today specifically clarifies that the K9 will be renamed for other markets.
While Kia says the large sedan rides on “its own platform,” we know enough about the auto industry to posit that much of that platform is shared with the underpinnings of corporate cousin Hyundai’s Genesis Sedan and Equus. Like the Hyundai pair, Kia is clearly hoping the not-called-K9-here will help the brand move upmarket, positioning the car as a premium product designed, in the words of Kia’s head of design Peter Schreyer, “to compete head-to-head with the European luxury brands.”
The Kia sedan will split the difference between the Genesis and the Equus, matching the 120-inch wheelbase of the latter, but with an overall length of 200 inches that’s three inches shorter than Equus and almost four inches longer than the Genesis. The Kia sedan will have the same 0.27 coefficient of drag as both the Hyundai models.
Kia says its luxury sedan will be powered by two distinct versions of the corporate 3.8-liter Lambda V6, one making 286 horsepower and the direct-injection version rated at 329. The more powerful engine is said to be “joining the global engine line-up next year,” which we’d expect would coincide with the flagship sedan’s U.S. launch. Both engines will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Kia says the car will be available with a number of safety features including a lane-departure warning system and blind sport detection. A reclining rear seat with leg rest will also be available, just like in the Equus.
While we wouldn’t expect Kia to send its flagship stateside with the less-powerful V6 – indeed, a V8 engine option is surely bound to accompany an official statement of the car’s U.S. sales plan – doing so would certainly allow Kia to bring the car to market at a more attractive entry-level price. Kia has a scant resume when it comes launching anything other than budget models here in the U.S., and the brand certainly has considerable work to do if it aims to catch up to Hyundai in pricier segments.
It will certainly be interesting to see where Kia tries to position its unnamed sedan – and whether its (*ahem*) dogged pursuit of the luxury dollar will succeed.