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Kia’s K900 rear-drive luxury sedan matches wits with 2011 Infiniti – and that’s a good thing

Kia officially unveiled its anticipated all-new flagship sedan today, the K900.

Frankly, I like it a lot more in person than I did in its teaser photos. It looks like a Maserati Quattroporte had its way with a Kia Optima while an Audi A7 watched from the corner, chain smoking.

Hopefully, you won’t be able to get that image, and the Kia K900, out of your head for some time. I know I won’t.

Despite its impressively striking bodylines, the rest of the K900’s specs read like any other brand-new entrant into the full-size luxury market.

Separating itself from the rest of the Kia lineup, the colossal K900 is a rear-wheel drive, full-size luxury sedan powered by either a 3.8-liter, 311-horsepower V6 or a 5.0-liter, 420 hp V8. Both engines will be bolted to a new ‘smooth-shifting’ eight-speed automatic.

While these power numbers are great, Kia has yet to reveal acceleration times or fuel economy estimates. So unless it can hustle to 60 mph in under 4.5 seconds or get over 30 mpg, it’s not making many headlines in the engine department.

The conservative story continues into the cabin with optional Nappa leather available in black or white with contrasting piping, which is accented by genuine white sycamore or dark charcoal poplar-wood trim on the dash and door panels. This makes me think of Infiniti of, well, any kind from the last decade.

Where the K900 does stand out a bit is its 12.3-inch TFT screen instrument cluster and Kia-first head-up display (HUD). The K900’s HUD, just like that of every other automaker, shows turn-by-turn directions, vehicle speed, and blind spot and camera-based lane departure system warnings.

Over to the right of the large digital instrument cluster is a 9.2-inch UVO eServices screen, which, like German cars of years past, is controlled with a single rotary knob by the driver’s right hand. The Germans virtually pioneered this single-point interface. But after having been repeated derided for forcing users through dozens of menus, the Germans have moved to replace joysticks with a mix of touchpads and buttons. Kia, it seems, is playing digital catch-up.

Another area in which Kia is keen to catch-up the competition is in collision safety. Accordingly the K900 debuts Kia’s first implementation of Advanced Vehicle Safety Management (AVSM). The system, just like most every other luxury automaker, will warn the driver through the HUD of an imminent collision and pre-pressurize the braking system and the seatbelts to help limit crash-caused injury. Unlike the big boys in the segment, however, the system won’t take autonomous action to avoid the collision if the driver is unable to react.

While the Kia K900 is clearly a legitimate luxury land ship, it’s not a real competitor to the reigning kings like Infiniti or Buick. The bodylines, the power, and the technology are a few steps behind all the other ‘affordable’ luxury offerings on the market. Yes, designers made the Kia grille much more premium looking. But, frankly, that brilliant grille is not enough to justify a $50,000 to $65,000 asking price, I fear.

I wonder if Kia really needs a car like the K900 – and why it didn’t take a risk and break the flagship mold at least a little. Nothing on the spec sheet reads any differently than a high-end Hyundai or Lexus from a few years ago.

We’ll withhold our final judgments until we get behind the wheel – and after Kia releases pricing. The K900 goes on sale in early 2014 so look for more info soon.

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The amazing Kia GT4 Stinger revealed in Detroit gives the Scion FR-S a run for its money
Kia GT4 Stinger front angle

Watch out Scion FR-S, there is a new kid on the block ... and he looks mean. Kia just unveiled its new GT4 Stinger concept, and - wow - this is not your dad's Kia.
As it happens, Kia has been on a bit of a roll with exciting cars. The Optima Turbo, and the brand-new K900 all suggest that Kia brass want to take the company in a more exciting, more aggressive direction. To be honest, I haven't been completely convinced. That is, until now.
The GT4 Stinger is a true sports car front engine, rear drive and near perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Under that menacing hood, it packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline direct injected four-cylinder that is good for 315 horsepower. This, in a car that weighs just 2,874 pounds. It should also stop pretty briskly because it's fitted with 15-inch Brembo Gran Turismo brakes. My face hurts at the prospect of stopping this thing.
Still, my favorite part of this car - hands down - is the looks. The combination of the Kia's signature grille and those vertical LED lights make the front end look downright sinister. Add in the flaring rear wheel arches and the classic 2+2 sports car silhouette, and you get one damn fine looking sports car.
There are some very cool touches, too. You get things like a carbon fiber front splitter and A-pillars that are transparent with layered slots cut in to reduce weight and add to visibility. The result is that the drive gets an unbeatable 270-degree field of vision. That should be handy when you are trying to find the apex of a corner. 
Some people are going to say that this car is bad just because of the badge, and that is just wrong. Sure, Kia is not the most storied name in automotive circles, but cars like this are how companies make their names.   
The only big worry is that Kia won't make this car. It is, after all, still just a concept. But as the popularity of the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ has shown, there is room in the market for simple affordable sports cars. And, on paper at least, the Stinger has the FR-S beat.
The chief designer of the GT4 Stinger, Tom Kearns says, “It’s a totally selfish design. The design team at KCDA (Kia Design Center America) is full of gearheads and enthusiasts, and the GT4 Stinger is the perfect car for that kind of crowd.” Tom, if this car is selfish, then give me more where that came from. 
Looking for more Detroit news? Check out the rest of our coverage from the 2014 North American International Auto Show.

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Infiniti gives first glimpse at the Q50 Eau Rouge concept performance sedan. Surprise, it’s red

Early last month, Infiniti teased the concept car it’ll be bringing to the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. It’s called the Q50 Eau Rouge. And, despite its stupid name, it is shaping up to be a pretty impressive car.
What you see above is the first full image of the thing that we’ve seen yet. Although it resembles the Q50 sedan on which it’s based, the body has been re-sculpted for aerodynamics and formed entirely out of carbon fiber. In total, it’s lower and wider than the standard Q50, not to mention lighter.
The Eau Rouge was designed in collaboration with Infiniti’s Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team and features 21-inch forged alloy wheels and a dual-exit exhaust sports system that juts out beneath the large integrated rear spoiler.

Infiniti is quick to point out that that rear aerodynamic tweaks draw inspiration from the RB9 F1 car. And I am sure it does, just like how the Epcot Center draws inspiration from European countries.
So will Infiniti build the Eau Rouge? If it wants to compete with the all-new BMW M3 it will. Right now, though, the Germans have the keys to the performance sedan castle.
If you’re keen to know more about the Q50 Eau Rouge, you’ll need to check back when the North American Auto Show kicks into full gear in a week and a half. We’ll be on the show floor so be sure to check back for more.

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Think Kia doesn’t makes sports cars, huh? The GT4 Stinger concept should change your mind
kia gt4 stinger concept change mind

A pure, raw sports car with rear wheel drive ... from Kia. It does sound a bit strange but, apparently that's what is coming next from the Korean automaker - and it is called the GT4 Stinger.
Right now the car is just a concept, bound for the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Kia has teased an image and a few detail, but mostly the car remains a mystery. What we do know is that it will have a turbocharged four cylinder, 315 horsepower, rear-wheel drive, and that it looks a hell of a lot like the Audi R8.
The concept renderin, released by Kia, shows a very low-slung car with more LEDs than a truckload of Audis. And while a production car is sadly likely to be toned down, this is the sort of car that may actually see a dealer lot.
Kia has shown a willingness to buck the expectation of buyers by releasing luxury vehicles like the K900. What's more; because Kia is linked to Hyundai, it already has a RWD platform from the Genesis Coupe at its disposal.  
Personally, though, I hope that if the GT4 Stinger does get made, it's an entirely new car. The Genesis Coupe is a very fun sports car, but the platform is five years old and it was never a world-beater. But even if we get some old underpinnings, this is one exciting Kia.
Just remember, even if the Kia badge doesn't seem fitting on a sports car, before Lamborghini made cars, it made tractors. 

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