Mike Stevens | May 2, 2012

It might lack the manufactured upmarket image of Hyundai's Genesis offshoot, but Kia's new K9 aims to be every bit as luxurious as its partner's flagship sedans.

Sharing its platform with the top-shelf Hyundai Equus, the new large sedan enters the Kia range above the existing Optima (K5 in Korea) and the Cadenza (K7, but not offered in Australia).

In its home market, the K9 is powered by Kia's upgraded 213kW 3.8 litre 'Lambda' V6 petrol engine, while a 245kW 3.8 litre GDI V6 will follow the car's North American and European debut later this year.

The big V6 is matched to the carmaker's new eight-speed automatic transmission, featuring a BMW-like 'shift by wire' gear lever in the cabin.

Four driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow) are available, offering enhanced management of of suspension, steering, engine and transmission response.

The K9's construction includes 74.3 percent high-strength steel, with its long-wheelbase platform riding on electronically-controlled air suspension that includes a five-link arrangement at the front and rear.

In designing the K9, Kia design boss Peter Schreyer focused on creating a prestigious image, with the rear-wheel-drive configuration and long-wheelbase layout allowing for a longer bonnet, a stretched A-pillar and a muscular profile.

"K9 is all about elegant simplicity, balanced proportions and simple surfaces," Schreyer says.

"The class-leading long wheelbase, the prestige distance, large wheels, sharply upright short overhangs and a long sweeping shoulder line all work together in a harmony to give K9 a sporty, athletic proportion and a confident stance quintessential to a premium large rear-wheel drive vehicle."

The K9 boasts an overall length of 5090mm with a 3045mm wheelbase, making it a rival for the short-wheelbase versions of Mercedes' large S-Class and the BMW 7 Series.

Features inside include smart cruise control, a 12.3-inch LCD display, a windscreen-projected head-up display, twin 9.2-inch monitors rear-seat entertainment screens, and a 17-channel, 17-speaker Lexicon (by Harman) sound system.

A 'VIP' option will offer twin heated and ventilated rear seats with a reclining backrest, sliding cushion and lower leg support for the 'nearside' seat, together with a front passenger seat that slides forwards when unoccupied.

Safety features include adaptive all-LED headlamps, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), radar-based Blind-Spot Detection (BSD) and an Around-View Monitor (AVM) with four cameras.



Will we see the K9 in Australia? The long and short answers are both 'no'.

While the carmaker's local arm is keen to get its hands on the best its home office can offer, the K9 is one of many models in the Hyundai-Kia empire not yet available in a right-hand-drive configuration.

Still, with the next-generation Genesis cars confirmed for an Australian launch, it's odds-on that a large right-hand-drive and RWD premium model will be on Kia Australia's long-term agenda.

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