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by Tim Beissmann

An advanced prototype of the Kia K9 luxury sedan has been spied undergoing winter testing in northern Sweden.

The rear-wheel-drive flagship sedan is based on the platform of the Hyundai Genesis, which is not currently sold in Australia. Like its South Korean sister car the K9 has been designed to take on premium offerings from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

It is set to make its official debut at an international motor show later this year, with initial markets likely to include the US, Europe and Korea.

Our spy photographers tell us the Kia K9 could include up to three high-performance petrol engines: a 248kW 3.8-litre V6, a 287kW 4.7-litre V8, and a 320kW 5.0-litre V8. A powerful diesel engine would also be a necessity for the K9 to be successful in Europe.

An eight-speed automatic transmission will find its way into the K9 initially, although later models are likely to benefit from Hyundai group’s 10-speed auto, which is currently under development for its high-end models.

Despite being covered with camouflage, the K9 prototype looks sleek, elegant and well proportioned. As you can see, the headlights employ full LED technology, while the overall styling is said to draw inspiration from the Kia GT concept, which debuted at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.

Fans of the dramatic GT concept will be happy to know that vehicle is far from dead, with the Korean brand set to unveil a second iteration of the concept at this year’s Paris motor show in September.

The four-seat rear-wheel-drive performance sedan is the pet project of Kia’s chief designer Peter Schreyer. Last year Schreyer said “it would be a dream to put [the GT] into production” and insisted “it’s exactly the kind of car Kia should be making”.

Kia Motors Australia president and CEO Charlie Kim says he “definitely” shares Schreyer’s enthusiasm for the car, suggesting that if the car made it to production, it could become a flagship model in the local line-up.

Kia Australia’s Kevin Hepworth says history suggests a GT production car could be on the cards.

“If you look back at the concept cars that Kia has done over the past few years, they don’t build them for fun, Hepworth said. “Concept cars become production cars generally at Kia, and in pretty quick time.”

He said it was unlikely the GT concept would simply disappear, as it is a project Schreyer has invested heavily in.

“That is a car that is of course of interest to every Kia dealership around the world. It’s exciting, and that’s what it was designed to do, to be exciting, and it is.

“You don’t get to be the fastest growing car company in the world by not harnessing good ideas.”

The production version of the Kia GT is unlikely to launch before 2014.




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