Kia is planning to out-Cadenza the Cadenza by adding another flagship sedan in the form of what's being called a "7-Series value for [a] 5-Series price."
Unlike the Cadenza, which is a near-luxury front-wheel-drive sedan, Kia also sells the rear-wheel-drive K9 in its home country of South Korea. Compared to the rest of Kia's lineup, the K9 looks like the love child of the Jaguar XJ and Maserati Quattroporte.
And maybe that's the point. In order to court luxury buyers, you've got to have luxury styling. And since the economy is starting to improve in the U.S., Kia thinks it can cash in on a thrifty luxury seeker with the K9. Only it'll be called the K900 here, dealers tell Automotive News.
Poor Cadenza! You were the girl from high school who was unnoticed until she showed up super dazzling at the high school reunion. Now the K900 is here to steal your shine and potential boyfriends.
Kia has been working hard to overcome its image as a second-string Hyundai, and they're well aware of this. Executives reportedly told dealers that the automaker will no longer be a joke in the industry after the K900 arrives.
Here's the thing about the K900, though: The name. I can't get past it. K900 sounds like...900 dogs. Or a west coast news radio station. Or some insanely huge computer from 1982. I get that alphanumerics are supposed to convey luxury in the minds of the American buying public, but I'm also reminded of how weird Hyundai's X635 sounded next to the Sonata.
Here's another thing: The price. The K900 is expected to cost between $50,000 and $70,000. While this car may be solid — we don't know yet — and appealing, there's still a large section of the buying public that may not want to spend that much on a Kia. They'll spend that much on a BMW, because BMW. But Kia? We'll see.
Maybe that name recognition issue is why Kia only wants to sell 5,000 K900s a year. That's low, but Automotive News reports that it's more than Hyundai wants to sell of the Equus annually, which is in the 2,000-3,000 range. For comparison's sake, the Optima and Soul each sells more than 10,000 a month.
I drove a Kia Optima SXL from Detroit to Traverse City once. It was a nice ride. It looked great on the outside and handled just as well for a four-hour trip. It was well-appointed. Shifting was decent. You know, it was just a good car. But I couldn't get past the price. It was, if I recall, somewhere just over or just under $40,000. It didn't feel $40,000. It still felt like a $22,000 midsize sedan, if you get what I'm saying. I felt the same way when I drove the MKZ once. It felt like the Fusion I drove a few weeks before. So what's Kia going to do with a car that stickers around $70,000?
You'll start to see K900 marketing during, when else? The Super Bowl next year. No word on if the hamsters will make an appearance.