The Kia K900 Is A Korean BMW Named After A Robot Dog

Illustration for article titled The Kia K900 Is A Korean BMW Named After A Robot Dog

Kia sure as hell has come a long way since the days when they were secretly building Festivas for Ford, and the Kia K900 is absolute proof of that. It's a handsome, impressively-appointed car, even if it does seem to be an amalgam of other car's identities.

The most initially puzzling thing about the K900 is the name. Kia's been one of the few holdouts for real name-named cars: Soul, Optima, Sorento — so why they decided to go numerical for this one isn't clear, though it's likely to fit in with other luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes. But the puzzling part is why they picked a combination of letters and numbers that make everyone think of a dog.

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Illustration for article titled The Kia K900 Is A Korean BMW Named After A Robot Dog

And not just a dog — multiplying K9 by 100 just means it's a robo-dog.

Kia's first rear-drive car is, as they told me, a "flagship-sized" car targeted at "technophiles with a different definition of luxury," which I think is just PR-speak for "people who aren't such badge snobs that they'd never, ever consider buying a Kia."

And, for all the quality work Kia seems to have done on this car, the specter of other high-end/populist badged cars like the Volkswagen Phaeton is certainly present. I personally hate brand snobbery, but you can't deny that it's a factor for luxury cars like this.

Still, the K900's predicted price range of $50K to $65K may be enough less than the mainstream luxury cars for people to stop giving a rat's rectum about the badge on the car — I'm curious to see what happens.

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Illustration for article titled The Kia K900 Is A Korean BMW Named After A Robot Dog

The K900 is remarkably well-equipped, and certainly seems competitive. Aside from some Buick-like little (fake) siamesed-side portals, the K900 boasts 17 speakers, full LCD customizable instrument cluster, a color HUD with speed and turn-by-turn navigation displays, LED, eight-element headlights that turn up to 12° with the wheels, full rear seat climate and seat controls, and all advanced driving aids like over-head-car-surrounding camera systems, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alerts, and on and on.

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Illustration for article titled The Kia K900 Is A Korean BMW Named After A Robot Dog

The materials seem very high-end, with a type of leather that they claim took two years to find, real wood, soft-touch plastics, and what looks sort of like whalebone but probably isn't. Maybe it's elephant seal-bone.

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Illustration for article titled The Kia K900 Is A Korean BMW Named After A Robot Dog

Driving all this luxury stuff are a choice of two engines, both all aluminum. There's a V6 making 311 HP and a V8 putting out 420 HP, and both use an 8 speed automatic.

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Illustration for article titled The Kia K900 Is A Korean BMW Named After A Robot Dog

Overall, it's impressive, though it doesn't seem to have too much of its own character, at least not yet. Still, it ticks all the expected luxury boxes, it's handsome, and a good bit cheaper than almost everyone else in its class. That may be enough.

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DISCUSSION

mailboxcancer
Mailbox Cancer

I feel very strongly about this, and I am thinking about investing some time to write about it in the future, as this is right up my alley of business. This impressive vehicle shares the same badge as a Kia Soul ... just for starters. That's not good.

The Hyundai division went along with presenting the EQUUS with an entirely unique badge and branding. Sure, it never hid the name of it's manufacturer, but the badge engineering alone helped to effectively put that vehicle in another class than any Sonata, Santa Fe, or Tucson.

I feel that it's an oversight (maybe not a crippling mistake) that Kia didn't craft a division specifically prepared for the K900 by calling it by a different marque. I too laugh regularly at brand snobbery, but the demeanor of the car you're trying to sell/market is greatly confused when the brand stablemates fall in non-equivelant categories.

It otherwise looks like a quality, overall attractive vehicle. But if you had $50-65k to spend on a luxury executive sedan, would you really be buying a Kia?