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Kia's K9 proves it can take on German luxury rivals

All Headlines 19:26 April 17, 2018

By Choi Kyong-ae

SEOUL/CHUNCHEON, April 17 (Yonhap) -- Kia Motors Corp.'s K9 flagship sedan showed it can pose a credible challenge to heavy hitters, like the Mercedes Benz E-class, by showcasing upscale design, advanced safety features and excellent driving characteristics.

Throughout the two-hour, 160 kilometer-long media event from Seoul to Chuncheon, 85 km east of the capital city, the all-wheel-drive K9 sedan, with a 3.3 gasoline turbo engine, displayed its full potential with "stable yet powerful" handling performance.

The proven Lamda engine allowed the large sedan to respond quickly to inputs at both city and high driving speeds. The multi-link suspensions at the front and the back kept the car well composed even in tight turns, with only a slight sign of body lean being noticeable.

Kia has, moreover, done an excellent job in dealing with noise, vibration and harshness with almost no road, engine and wind noise seeping into the luxurious cabin, even at high speeds. The carmaker said the K9 can reach a speed of 230 km per hour on 19-inch Continental Contiprocontact tires.

This photo taken April 17, 2018 and provided by Kia Motors shows its flagship K9 sedan on a highway near Seoul in a media test drive event. (Yonhap)

The K9, the first full revamp of the flagship sedan in six years, showed marked improvement in safety features. The car is sold as the K900 in North America and as Quoris in other markets.

The sedan carries a total of 18 safety features that include lane following assist (LFA), blind spot view monitor, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist and navigation-based smart cruise control (NSCC). And the car comes standard with nine air bags and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

During the drive, the K9 came into its own during a 56 km stretch of highway, with the car being able to stay perfectly in the center of the lane, while the NSCC function automatically slowed the car down as it drove through a curve.

Another function had the windows close automatically if the car detected it was entering a tunnel, with the air ventilation system recycling to keep outside air from flowing in.

Fuel efficiency was rated at 10 km per liter of fuel, which is quite acceptable for a car of this size.

Another asset of the car is its luxurious interior with emphasis on a simple yet elegant design.

Under the concept "Confident Richness," the K9 is equipped with ambient interior light, the finest leather and cushioning and advanced infotainment systems, including a 12.3-inch navigation display.

In terms of dimension, the K9 is longer and wider than the outgoing model but retains the same height. It boasts a longer wheelbase that should improve handling and the overall ride quality.

This photos taken on April 17, 2018 show the rear side of the K9 sedan (L) and the 19-inch Continental tires. (Yonhap)
In this photo taken on April 17, 2018, a reporter tests the lane following assist function during a test drive event held near Seoul. (Yonhap)

The K9 will be available in three versions: the base model with a 3.8-liter gasoline engine, a turbocharged 3.3-liter petro motor and top-of-the-line 5.0-liter gasoline mill.

The premium sedan has a starting price of 55 million won (US$51,000), with the numbers going up to 93 million won depending on options.

The sticker price competes favorably with the midsized Mercedes Benz E-class models, which are sold for 62 million-99 million won in South Korea. The German car has far fewer safety features and fuel efficiency of 9 km-15 km per liter, depending on the powertrain and type of fuel.

Kia aims to sell 15,000 units of the K9 in the domestic market this year and 20,000 K9s next year. It plans to export the K9, with a 3.3-liter turbo gasoline engine, to overseas markets, such as the United States and the Middle East, in the second half of this year, with an aim to sell 6,000 units annually.

Sales of the previous K9s fell 28 percent to 2,186 units in 2017 from 3,035 a year earlier.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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