2015 Kia K900 V-8
Unlike some luxury cars that forgo cosseting ride quality for sporty pretensions, the 2015 Kia K900 stays true to the classic land-yacht formula. The latest step in Kia’s rapid expansion—even if it’s at odds with the company’s youthful, rockin’-hamster attitude—the K900 flagship takes the brand to new heights of Lexus-like quiet and isolation. The big K is based on a stretched version—by 4.3 inches in both wheelbase and length—of parent Hyundai’s outgoing Genesis sedan (Hyundai just introduced a new 2015 Genesis with a Lotus-tuned chassis and available all-wheel drive). As such, it’s Kia’s first rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan and second model with available V-8 power after the defunct Borrego SUV. The K900 is launching with a standard 5.0-liter Tau V-8 pumping out 420 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, making it the most-powerful Kia ever. The V-8 is mated to Hyundai’s own eight-speed automatic, which works smoothly in most situations but tends to upshift early, even in its sportiest setting. It also includes a funky electronic joystick shifter that any modern BMW driver would sadly recognize.
Despite its being the quickest Kia we’ve ever tested—sprinting to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and covering the quarter-mile in 14.1 at 101 mph—the K900 never feels particularly athletic or engaging. The powertrain purrs smoothly underhood and rarely calls attention to itself, the resulting serenity being ideal for cruising. A button on the console allows the driver to toggle among Sport, Normal, and Eco driving modes, which slightly alter throttle response, shift action, damper settings, and steering effort, but it’s best to leave it in the default setup.
The rest of the Kia’s performance figures—a modest 0.80 g of lateral grip and a 176-foot stop from 70 mph on 19-inch, all-season Hankook Optimo rubber—are merely adequate and reinforce the car’s indifference to driver involvement. The 4664-pound K900 floats down the road with noticeable—some might say nautical—pitch, roll, and dive motions. The steering lacks self-centering, necessitating frequent corrections on the highway. Very little makes its way up the steering column, save for some occasional shakes and quivers over rough pavement. Our observed fuel economy of 18 mpg is in line with the combined EPA rating on the window sticker.
Yet all of this works if you can accept the K900 as a modern incarnation of the Lincoln Town Car, a sensory-deprivation warehouse on wheels that urges you to simply relax and enjoy the ride. The K900 is quieter at idle and full throttle than the latest Mercedes-Benz S550. The Kia’s styling is handsome but not overdone, there’s tons of space for stuff, the seats are La-Z-Boy comfy, and the interior is tastefully styled and easy to navigate with abundant hard buttons. The list of standard equipment at the K900’s $60,400 starting point is ridiculously long with the test car’s most notable features included in the $6000 VIP package’s adaptive cruise control, power-closing doors, 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument cluster, head-up display, barrage of exterior cameras, and power reclining and ventilated rear seats.