Not available in Australia, the K900 is the current showcase for South Korean manufacturer Kia. It's also the most powerful Kia ever manufactured - and it's impressive.
The 2015 Kia K900 is a ringing endorsement of just what Kia Motors is capable of. More’s the pity too, because it’s highly unlikely we’ll see this well-crafted luxury sedan on sale locally anytime soon. It is, potentially, one of the most impressive cars you’ll never drive, then…
Fortunately CarAdvice has had that opportunity on your behalf. As part of an R&D trip with Kia North America to the company's hot weather testing facility in Death Valley, we had the opportunity to log plenty of miles in the flagship model from the South Korean company’s fleet.
Think Hyundai Genesis, but with some added flair and style. It's pertinent to note that the K900 is actually bigger than a Genesis too, although it doesn't feel it on the road in the USA. Nonetheless, it is a genuinely impressive luxury sedan. The K900 is that good. It’s just a shame Kia Australia can’t work a business case to deliver the vehicle locally.
Pricing is not even worth trying to translate into our dollars really but the model starts from US $60,400 for the V8 model and about US $55K for the V6 model. If Kia could have landed the K900 in Australia for the same price as the Genesis - it seems almost certain it would have been a success such is the inherent quality of the vehicle.
Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth is not quite adamant there is no chance of the car going on the market in Australia.
"One good reason is that the car is not made in right-hand drive," Hepworth told CarAdvice. “Apart from that, a price that is fair to the car would be well outside what the market would accept from Kia at this stage.
"If Hyundai - with 10 per cent of the market - is meeting the sort of resistance it has to the Genesis pricing, it would be even more difficult for Kia with three per cent of the market.
"That is not to say that a K900 or similar car would never be available or suitable for Australia, just not now or in the short-term future."
Our K900 is powered by an incredibly smooth petrol V8 engine matched to a crisp eight-speed automatic transmission. The power and torque figures aren’t stratospheric (313kW and 510Nm) but the way the engine generates and delivers it’s power is so smooth, you’d be hard pressed to pick it as a V8. Some might question that logic, but at this luxury limo end of the market, a raucous engine note isn’t always as appealing as it might otherwise be. ‘Sport’ mode gets things happening with more urgency and opens the exhaust up a little too.
Still, it's the most powerful Kia engine ever, and on the open highway out to Death Valley with stretches in ‘Sport' mode, our K900 slurps an indicated 10.1 litres per 100 kilometres - not bad for a whopping great sedan. Around town in LA traffic, that figure sneaks up to an indicated 14L/100km.
The engine wafts around town with ease as you’d expect, but even in the lesser ‘Normal’ and ‘Eco’ modes it exhibits the turn of speed only a naturally aspirated V8 can conjure. Roll-on overtaking on the highway is executed rapidly and safely, and the V8 keeps the car ticking along at the requisite speed limit effortlessly. The gearbox drops back a cog or two and the big sedan rockets forward with the kind of urge you expect from a much lighter, more nimble car.
Speaking of nimble, the K900, which feels perfectly sized around town in California, starts to a feel a little unwieldy and front heavy as we negotiate the twisty roads down into Death Valley. Owners of these vehicles won’t be punting hard with passengers on board, but it’s still worthy of noting that the brakes work hard to pull the heavyweight up from speed as you approach tight corners.
The ride is, quite simply, sensational. Again, we need to factor in the suspension being tuned to suit American tastes, which means our local tune would, in theory, ride and handle with more alacrity than this US example. That said, the ride comfort and bump absorption is exceptional. Nothing unsettles the cabin, and the insulation either behind the wheel, or as a passenger, is impressive. The K900 is one of those cars that rewards the passengers as much as the driver.
Do you like your large sedans with all the fruit? The Kia K900 would put a dirty big grin on your face.
The centre screen measures 9.2 inches and is physically imposing enough to match the audacity of the overall design. The satellite navigation system is easy to - ahem - navigate and quick to get to work too. The 12.3-inch TFT gauge cluster shows what is capable with interactive displays, despite the lack of a navigation (turn-by-turn) option within it, which we appreciate with the Audi virtual cockpit system. The display is clear in any light and the reverse-view camera with surround view is also a great addition.
The front seats are heated and cooled along with the two outboard rear seats. Quad-zone climate control is standard and our test K900 has Sirius satellite radio as well. Such trivialities as auto down and up on all four windows almost don’t need to be mentioned.
Electric seat adjustment with memory functions for the driver is matched by electric adjustment for the front seat passenger and both outboard rear seat passengers. The controls for the rear ventilation and seats are cleverly hidden in the drop down armrest along with cupholders.
As with the Hyundai Genesis, there is so much room in any seat you can’t imagine passengers not being comfortable. The second row accommodates fully-grown adults perfectly and even with long-legged adults up front. Adults won’t ever feel cramped back there.
The boot is enormous, and accommodated three large suitcases plus two on-boarders comfortably. The load height is just about spot on too. Weekends away won’t be an issue for K900 owners.
Having spent three solid days in the 2015 Kia K900 it seems a bit of a let down that we can’t access this impressive large sedan locally.
It’s a great all-rounder, sure - but it’s also a proper window into what Kia is capable of technologically and in terms of refinement. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s every bit as good as the Hyundai Genesis. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think the K900 is more attractive too.
We’ve had plenty to get excited about with Kia’s raft of new product in Australia, but sadly the K900 isn’t part of that mix.