When Kia and Hyundai hit the American market, both Korean carmakers aimed for the bottom, selling some of the dreariest cars imaginable. Over the last several decades, however, both have moved markedly up market, selling some great looking, nicely performing coupes, hatches, sedans, and crossover.
Although they’d made respected named for themselves with 100,000-mile warranties and exceptional build quality, both brands struggled to pinpoint an identity.
It seemed Kia would become a youthful, accessible brand with peppy and cute cars, while Hyundai would skew a bit more upscale and aim for Cadillac, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz.
Then, suddenly, the sister brands decided they both wanted to be the sporty Korean car company. In fact, Hyundai recently announced it was forming a performance-oriented sub-brand. This is all well and good. In my opinion, though, sporty isn’t a good fit for either automaker.
Now, though, Kia seems to be making an up-scale move of its own with the K900 rear-wheel drive flagship sedan that will be priced between $50,000 and $70,000 and offer either a V6 or V8 powertrain.
Now I am really confused. Kia had me with the classic, sporty, and decidedly Germanic lines of its Optima sedan that – in Turbo form – was a must-buy for $28,000.
But a $70,000 Kia? Someone over in Seoul must be munching on the crazy kimchi because I can’t believe anyone is going to be interested in spending that kind of money on a sedan – no matter how good looking – if it has the same grille as a $16,000 Kia Forte.
Kia will official unveil the terribly named K900 next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. I’ll be on the show floor and will be sure to bring you my final impressions once I see the thing in the flesh. Perhaps Kia can get clever enough to impress me. We’ll have to see.