This is the new Kia K8, the successor to the Kia K7, which is known in the U.S. as the Cadenza, which has been discontinued in this part of the world. It looks like a fairly generic big sedan, certainly not ugly but also not particularly memorable in the way the Kia K5 is, either. I’ve already seen Ford Fusion comparisons, and I think they’re reasonable to make.
Kia isn’t sharing details on the K8's nuts and bolts quite yet — today’s press-release reveal consisted of all of three photos and a couple of paragraphs on the car’s design. This will be the first new Kia to tout the brand’s new logo front and center, for what it’s worth, but I think things get more interesting as you pan around the car.
I do think the grille deserves some attention. Kia has a name for this diamond lattice pattern on the front — it’s called a “tiger nose.” My eyes are having a bit of a hard time decoding how it’s structured, going off the one image it’s fully present in. Yes, there are little chrome accents at the base of each diamond, which I think is a little bit much, but in the upper middle section there where the grille goes all concave, it seems like the diamonds skew inward to allow ingress for passing air. That creates a progressive, 2D-to-3D effect that works well from this chosen angle, though I’m curious as to how it fares with brighter and non-metallic colors.
Then, just to hammer home that this car is all about diamonds, there are these streaks trailing off from the bottom side vents and flanking the lower grille. This, again, seems excessive to me, particularly with the upper application — it almost looks like someone took a Bedazzler to the car’s cheeks.
Look to the sides of the K8 and you’ll see the diamond motif crop up again, this time ahead of the C pillar of all places.
Texturing surfaces on car exteriors seems to be a growing trend, particularly within grilles because newer cars require less space for airflow (or, in the case of electric vehicles, almost none at all.) The K8 isn’t an EV of course, but that doesn’t necessarily bother me. The patterns just seem frivolous and unnecessary on a car that otherwise happens to look really good from certain angles.
The K8 really all comes together in the back. I like the way the “K” shape of the headlights seamlessly trails down to the silver trim below, and how that cut line diagonally slashes through the rear wheel well to the lower door sill. The subtle protrusion of the light bar within the upper portion of the decklid also strikes me as an attractive and uncommon use of negative space. I think the K8 has much more going for it around the rear third, where Kia’s designers have used these graphical tricks to neatly taper things off.
Head on, though? It looks both unimaginative and like it’s trying too hard at the same time, save for that nice center grille trickery. I suppose full-size sedans from volume brands are the wrong place to look for inventive design, but until Kia cares to tell us more about the K8, all we can really do is look.