The first review of Kia’s all-new luxury car is in, and the news is not great for the Korean automaker.
Consumer Reports has published a brief review of the K900, and starts off likening the sedan to the “old-style American cruisers like those once made by Cadillac, Lincoln, Buick, and Oldsmobile.”
That’s not a compliment: Oldsmobile is dead, and the three other brands are working hard to make 21st century customers forget the huge, boat-like cars they built for decades.
Consumer Reports has mostly nice things to say about the luxurious interior and “effortless acceleration delivered quietly and competently.”
But when it comes to handling, things get rough:
Isolated it might be but steady it is not. There’s enough of the floaty buoyancy familiar from grandpa’s Florida car and undulating corners have the K900 wallowing like a waterbed.
Clearly, handling isn’t the K900’s forte. The light-effort, slow-responding steering is devoid of feedback, and early onset of body lean also harks back to the Nixon era. It doesn’t take much wheel-winding to get the tires squealing and the body tilting.
That’s a far cry from the “flagship performance” and “spirited driving” Kia promises.
The review closes by questioning who wants a premium sedan from Kia, the brand that advertises the $US15,000 Soul with dancing hamsters:
But it’s an open question how many luxury-sedan customers will be willing to be seen behind the Kia emblem, a name more readily associated with K-Mart than Cartier.
Based on its large size and ample power (there’s an optional 5.0-liter V8 engine), the K900 will compete with well-established cars like the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8, but for a much lower price (likely around $US50,000 base).
No one — not even Kia — is expecting the K900 to do very well at first. That’s why this rough review, and the others that are likely to follow, won’t sink the company’s move into the luxury market.
Kia has kept development costs down on the K900, and doesn’t need to sell more than a few thousand K900s to deem the effort a moderate success. It’s a careful first step into the segment, and as Consumer Reports notes, a refreshed K900 is likely to hit the market in the next few years.
Until then, it’s unlikely many people will buy the K900, but that’s not as terrible for Kia as it sounds.
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