The K900 is to Kia what the Santa Maria was to Christopher Columbus
THE YEAR WAS 1575 AD, Christopher Columbus and his crew were all set to sail and now they had their perfect galley. With a deck length of 17.7 metres and displacing over 100 tonnes, the Santa Maria would be the largest of the three ships and would be his flagship. In the case of Kia Motors that has just set foot into its new world, a.k.a India, its flagship sedan would have to be the K900 that we drove recently in South Korea. Isn’t a Kia as good as a Hyundai?
All major Kia cars, barring the Stinger, share their base platform with an equivalent Hyundai. In that sense, the K900's existence is owed to the Hyundai Genesis. However, like all Kias, that's where the resemblance ends, if you're willing to get past the fact that both the K900 and the Genesis on which it's based are designed as luxury limousines that CEOs of companies would be transported in.
Naturally, quality is top notch. There is no sign of scrimping anywhere and the K900 certainly boasts of a built-to-last aura. After much poking and prodding and tugging a few denounced the inside rear view mirror as tacky, ostensibly a nod to credible journalism where nothing can be all good. Although you get the distinct feeling of several elements of design being borrowed from other established marques, like the way the speakers in the door remind you of Mercedes' treatment of the same or how the central touchscreen is
reminiscent of BMW's or the gear selector resembles the one in Audis; it all comes together to form a pleasant whole. Somehow Kia has made all these individual parts to create a coherent sum that you don't really mind at all. And for this, Kia's designers deserve due credit for when you draw on multiple sources for “inspiration” things can go ver,y very wrong.
But where the K900, like its Hyundai cousins, leaves its inspirations behind is in the amount of equipment it packs in. There's everything you can possibly imagine, or want, in a car of this kind. There's of course the usual array of connectivity options, cameras that give you a chameleon's view of the world outside, a very fancy and sophisticated Maurice and Lacroix analogue watch in the dash and more. But the coolest gimmick is reserved for the driver alone. Every time you switch on the indicator the blind spot assist camera on that side feeds its view on the virtual instrumentation of the cockpit. Neat! And of course if you're the sort that likes assistance, short of getting your sandwich from the restaurant, the K900 will offer pretty much everything you want. The only thing you'll have to live with are the billions of warning beeps and buzzes and poorly worded English warnings that you'll be pelted with each time you get too close to the car in front.
Any fun to drive?
If you're genuinely old school you'll be forgiven for thinking such things, but if you've been following the progress of Hyundai in India then you'll know that the Koreans are now as much about the driving as anybody else but without having given up on value.
The one we drove had just been launched in South Korea and is a generation upgrade to an existing K900. Kia claims that the K900's
The Kia K900 is a fine show of Korean muscle. Proof of the fact that they can shake things up
all-new platform has seen the car grow longer with the wheelbase extending to release more space inside as well as improve stability on straights. Not having driven the predecessor, we can't really tell you anything about how improved this one feels. What we can tell you though is that it's very nice to drive. Especially with the 3.3-litre V6 direct injected twin turbo petrol that also goes under the bonnet of the Stinger (with a different ECU map obviously). In the K900 it packs in 360bhp and 510Nm of peak torque. Step on it and the shove is amazing as the car pulls ahead with a sport sedan like immediacy and a throaty sporty growl. The 5-litre V8 we sampled later felt very good too but lacklustre after the forced induction variant. Transmission in either case is an 8-speed auto 'box.
Honestly, with speed limits rarely crossing the 85kmph threshold that Koreans seem to love, and us being led in convoy, there weren't too many chances to evaluate dynamics, but ride quality was excellent. The cosseting kind of plushness that all CEOs love to love. The final word
Should there even be one? Considering that this car is not even being considered for India. Kia is toying with the idea of bringing the i20 based Stonic and the Grand Carnival MUV for us for now and are yet to decide on the rest of its Indian portfolio. So how does driving the K900 make sense? Well, it was a fine show of Korean muscle. Proof of the fact that they can shake up the established order. Isn't that what the Santa Maria did for Columbus too? ⌧
Top: Wireless charging for your mobile is super convenient. Above: Jewelled rotary buttons have a positive feel. Right: Everything is very well put together