Kia’s all-new K9 luxury flagship sedan goes on sale in Korea today (Wednesday, May 2), taking the brand boldly into a new segment. According to Kia, the new rear-wheel drive sedan will be launched outside of Korea starting in the fourth quarter of 2012, and we’re hoping one of these markets is Canada.
This flagship is the new “top dog” (sorry, couldn’t resist) in Kia’s global model range and is being touted as a “landmark vehicle” for the plucky Korean automaker. This is Kia’s first modern rear-wheel drive vehicle using its own platform and incorporating Peter Schreyer’s stylish design while promising luxurious comfort, engaging driving dynamics and advanced high-tech features.
While it is known as the ‘K9’ in Korea, the new flagship sedan will have a different name in overseas markets — to be revealed closer to its on sale date, likely something that sounds less like a movie about a police dog…
Our first impressions are that this reminds us of BMW 7 Series from the front and a Lexus LS from the rear, although there is going to be much better value, and the interior appears fit for royalty and execs in either row, but only a turn at the wheel will reveal if can offer the same grace and composure as do the S-Class, 7 Series, or Lexus LS.
And now for the remainder of Kia’s Press Release:
“K9 is our first rear-wheel drive large sedan for more than a decade and sets new standards for advanced design, new technologies and driving performance, representing the ‘best of the best’ of Kia,” comments Soon-Nam Lee, Kia’s Director of Overseas Marketing Group.
“Demonstrating once again our brand’s power to surprise, K9 will entice an entirely new customer group of progressive, forward-looking consumers to Kia for the first time,” adds Lee.
Designing for a rear-wheel drive platform has provided Kia with an opportunity for proportions that define luxury.
As a large rear-wheel drive vehicle, K9 boasts a long wheelbase which gives a generous first impression. As the engine sits further back, the A-pillar is also pushed back to create a longer hood and an impressive short front overhang. Consequently, the distance between the centre of the wheel and the A-pillar, the so called “prestige distance”, is increased.
Thanks to the long prestige distance and high shoulder line, the glass house sits far back and the sheet metal-to-glass ratio is significantly increased. The pushed-back position and the small size of the glass house give occupants a feeling of privacy and dignity, while the nice distinctive window graphics accentuated by a chrome inlay give the car a premium feel.
“K9 is all about elegant simplicity, balanced proportions and simple surfaces,” 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.”
“While embodying a new generation of Kia design, K9 is a clear signal of our intention and determination to compete head-to-head with the European luxury brands. And for Kia, our customers, and for me – this car is like a dream come true,” concludes Schreyer.
With a 5,090 mm overall length and 3,045 mm wheelbase, K9 offers generous front and rear occupant space. Overall width and height are 1,900 mm and 1,490 mm, respectively, which creates a spacious cabin environment, while efficient aerodynamics and close attention to exterior detailing result in a highly competitive Cd of 0.27.
V6 power and eight-speed transmission
Initially, K9 will be available in overseas markets powered by an upgraded 290 ps Lambda V6 3.8-litre MPI engine, with a 334 ps 3.8 GDI engine joining the global engine line-up next year.
For fitment to K9, Kia’s engineers boosted the Lambda V6’s power output, raised its efficiency and enhanced its refinement – making it well-suited to power the new flagship model. The normally aspirated twin DOHC 3.8-litre engines are equipped with dual continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) and a variable intake system (VIS).
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 (SBW) technology with a joystick control delivers fast, smooth gear changes.
Rear-wheel drive characteristics
“With K9 we have achieved a near-perfect front/rear weight distribution, which has created a strong foundation for excellent balance and steering response, and a sophisticated blend of ride and handling qualities,” comments Chang-Ky Kang, Senior Vice President of Namyang R&D Chassis Technology Center.
Together with the ultra-stiff bodyshell made with 74.3 per cent high-strength steel, K9’s electronically controlled air suspension with five-link front and rear suspension geometry has given the new flagship first-class ride and handling characteristics.
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.
“K9’s excellent balance delivers a host of driver benefits – improved traction, greater road holding, enhanced braking stability, and enhanced turn-in. Adopting rear-wheel drive also enabled us to create a purity of steering response and feel,” concludes Kang.
Advanced new features
When it goes on sale in overseas markets, K9 will premiere a range of advanced luxury features and technologies that are second to none. Depending on model, available active safety features will include fully adaptive all-LED headlamps, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), radar-based Blind-Spot Detection (BSD) and an Around-View Monitor (AVM) with four cameras.
Premium comfort features include a 12.3-inch full size Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD cluster, a HUD (head-up display), twin 9.2-inch monitors to entertain rear seat occupants and a remarkable 17-channel, 17-speaker Lexicon (by Harman) sound system and Smart Cruise Control (SCC) which adjusts the vehicle’s speed to maintain the distance from the vehicle ahead.
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.