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Kia K900 Enters Luxury Sedan Market with a Big Mistake

It's a derivative looking luxury sedan but the 2015 Kia K900 should still be a hit among auto buyers looking for either good price or enhanced value in a rear-wheel drive full-size car but there's one thing wrong with it: the choice of power plants.

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It's not so much the powertrains but the fact that there is a V6 and V8 model offered. Kia should have thrown down and said, "Screw it. We're going with a V8 model. We're not going to worry about the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards in this case. We want to deliver a sedan that packs a powerful punch."

This is going to be Kia's first V8 engine (ed. note - in a sedan). The Korean automaker, in my opinion, should go all-in and say it's the V8 or nothing. The V8 sounds like it's going to be pretty spectacular. Tau DOHC all-aluminum 32-valve 5.0-liter engine produces 420 horsepower. Kia said at the K900's announcement, "The engine is designed for efficiency with gasoline direct injection (GDI) and dual CVVT variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust. "

According to Kia, the 3.8-liter Lamba V6 produces 311 horsepower, making it the most powerful V6 in the lineup. A three-step Variable Intake System (VIS) is designed to provide optimum low- and mid-range torque. Similar to the V8, the Lamba V6 features GDI and CVVT technology to help improve efficiency.

It's safe to say that there is going to be very little performance difference between the two engines for the average driver. But, criminy, luxury doesn't come in a V6 engine. It comes from a V8, V10 or V12.

You won't see a V6 offered by Kia's sister company Hyundai for its comparable car the Hyundai Equus. There's a reason for that. The sister division knows what sells when it comes to luxury, which is why the Equus has managed to capture 9 percent of the luxury market in a relatively short time.

It's not that far of a leap to see it happening because the Hyundai As Warren Buffet, a famous Buick driver, might say, spending money for a nameplate like Mercedes-Benz or Audi when you can get the same value from a Hyundai or Kia is a huge waste of money.

Here are some other details on the V8, which demonstrate why it should be the only choice. A specially tuned air intake improves airflow while a roller-type timing chain and Teflon coated crank oil seal reduce frictional losses. The fast-heating catalytic converter helps reduce emissions and is of a lightweight design. The V8 is mated to a new smooth-shifting eight-speed transmission. Shift mapping is variable depending on the driver-selectable settings of Eco, Normal and Sport, and each mode also adjusts the electric steering’s sensitivity. (Granted, the V6 is also mated to the 8-speed, which means it has two gears that will probably never be used.)

Keith Griffin has been writing continuously about new cars since 2002. He used to be the guide to used cars at former as well as a contributor to The Boston Globe and Automotive Traveler. He is the founder and president of The Internet Car and Truck of the Year, where "Internet Pros and Average Joes" pick the car and truck of the year. Currently, Keith is the managing editor for American Business Media. Follow Keith at @indepthauto on Twitter.

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Aaron Turpen    November 25, 2013 - 11:22PM

Actually, putting the V6 against an 8-speed will mean it probably gets phenomenal fuel economy and has far lower road noise, as witnessed in the Chrysler products mating a V6 with an 8spd. I disagree with you on the V6 being a mistake. I think it will enhance sales and probably be the better-selling of the two options by the time it's done. And for the record, I'm a huge fan of Kia's unique selectable steering settings. I've used it in both the 2014 Sorento and 2014 Forte and it's the bomb.

Bruce (not verified)    November 26, 2013 - 5:09PM

I certainly hope you bashed the hell out of Porsche for a V6 in the Panamera! Lot's of people don't need the power of an 8 cyl and have money to spend on luxury. I think the sales will be brisk for the V6. Time will tell

Howard (not verified)    November 28, 2013 - 1:46PM

In reply to by Bruce (not verified)

Not exactly the same thing Porsche has estabished itself as offering exceptional 6 cylinder engines for its high end vehicles. A 6 cylinder from other manufactures in their line topping model would be viewed as less than a luxury offering (BMW would be the other exception) I'm also going to watching Maseriti who is offering the new twin turbo V6 Ghibli I bet it won't take them long to offer a V8 option which has the correct sound track.

Bruce (not verified)    December 2, 2013 - 9:26AM

So umm...I'm commenting on the fact you blasted Kia for having available a V6 in their new flagship model, I was only asking if you had the same voice when Porsche put a V6 in their 4 door, and with a company like Porsche it would seem that is where you should concentrate your blasting - on a company that self proclaims they are the sports car company. When I think of Kia I think of economy and value - hence their common sense to have available a V6. Don't forget, people have the OPTION of a V6 or V8

Carl (not verified)    February 5, 2014 - 6:15PM

I liked the Super Bowl ad for this car. But the price tag - when associated with the name - causes me issues. If I'm spending that much for a luxury car - the image of the car company itself matters greatly. So Infiniti or a new Rover Evoque makes a lot of sense.

I think a comment from another post said it best. The good news is it's a Kia. That's also the bad news.