2014 Kia Cadenza Premium
2014 Kia Cadenza Premium
2014 Kia Cadenza Premium
2014 Kia Cadenza Premium. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Paul Williams, additional photos courtesy Kia Canada

All-new for 2014, the Kia Cadenza is this Korean company’s latest entry into the luxury segment. Although Kia Canada doesn’t initially expect to sell large numbers of this model – its normal territory being mainstream vehicles like the Rio, Forte, Optima and Sorento – the Cadenza demonstrates Kia’s ability to produce a well-crafted and affordable luxury class vehicle to act – for the time being – as a flagship for the brand.

Complementing the debut of the new Cadenza, Kia has designated a new class of Kia Premium dealers to sell and service it (along with the upcoming and even higher specification rear-wheel-drive K900 in 2015).

Equipped with front-wheel drive and a six-speed “Sportmatic” paddle-shiftable automatic transmission, Cadenza is the only Kia car fitted with a V6 engine; this one displacing 3.3 litres and making 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. A direct-injected, dual-overhead camshaft unit, this is the same engine found in the US-market Hyundai Azera sedan (the Azera is no longer sold in Canada), and in fact the Cadenza is Kia’s version of that model.

It’s a fine looking car. Designed by Peter Schreyer, the talent behind all the new Kias (and now expanding his sphere to Hyundai designs as well), Cadenza pushes all the premium-car buttons and has a visual punch that belies its $37,895 (plus $1,485 Freight/PDI) opening price, although admittedly our $45,429 Snow White Pearl Cadenza Premium comes with a more formidable price tag.

Still, you get a lot for your money, and even the “base” Cadenza is very well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, puddle lamps, heated (front) leather seats with power adjustment for driver and front passenger, remote keyless entry with push-button start, Infinity 12-speaker audio, satellite radio, voice-activated navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, rear-view camera and dual-zone automatic climate control, among other standard features.

But Kia throws everything in when you select the Cadenza Premium, which adds a host of desirable extras that include 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps, premium Nappa leather interior, heated and cooled front seats with driver’s seat memory, heated rear seats, electric rear sunshade, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, active cruise control and a windshield wiper de-icer among them.

And it’s all delivered in a very nice package indeed. Most people encountering this car will be impressed, I would think, as Cadenza presents a stylish, current and appealing profile. The signature Kia grille works very well here, and from the front to the rear the Cadenza looks both muscular and sleek. It looks more expensive than it is, which likely was the idea.

While the large, two-tone wheels contrast well with the white paint on our test car; I should think in black the Cadenza would be a striking presence on the road (not a lot of colour choices available, though; all five in the black, white, silver palette).

The first Cadenza door I opened was the rear, and I was struck by the abundance of room behind the front seats. This is a cavernous area with plenty of legroom that should suit occupants no matter how long the trip. The black Nappa leather looks soft and of high quality, and the wood-look trim complements it tastefully. The understatement is prudent (don’t want to look garish), but does make the interior a bit dark. Fortunately, the headliner is light grey, which opens things up.

2014 Kia Cadenza Premium2014 Kia Cadenza Premium
2014 Kia Cadenza Premium. Click image to enlarge

At the front, likewise you find understated wood-trimmed storage containers and dashboard panels. It is, perhaps unexpectedly, something of a conservative interior compared with the eye-catching exterior. Conventional knobs and square buttons organized in rows on the centre stack; very traditional. The display is touchscreen, though, and each of the main driver-selectable areas – entertainment, communications, climate, navigation, vehicle settings – can be managed from there once you’ve pressed the corresponding button.

The quality throughout is notable, and the fit and finish is well executed. Most of the luxury touches are evident – more wood trimming for the steering wheel, chromed accents – but as I say, a bit dated in its overall look. That said, not everyone wants a next-generation interface, many of which are confusing and distracting, or sweeping panels of aluminum or carbon fibre. Something less intimidating, as found in the Cadenza, may be welcome by its target market.

On the road, the Kia Cadenza is smooth and quiet. Its suspension is sporty enough without being too firm, and the car feels stable and controlled when accelerating, cornering and braking. Acceleration is excellent in the mid-six second range from 0-100 km/h, and I can attest to the comfort and support of the seats after a long drive from Ottawa to the GTA and return.

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