The South Korean car market is marked by fierce loyalty for domestic brands, bolstered by government policies restricting imported brands that have only eased during the past several years. The hometown crowd that packed the arenas to cheer the country’s Olympic speed skaters will no doubt prefer the second generation of the Kia K900, the automaker’s flagship sedan (teased above), over a Cadillac or a Lexus. But will America ever warm to it?
Kia isn’t saying much about the next K900, but this time around, designers from Kia’s California studio had their hands on the car. The current K900, while sumptuously equipped, is a half-baked luxury car without the driving dynamics, standout style, or pedigree required of a car that can cost upward of $60,000.
The soft ride and clumsy handling have not been well received among U.S. reviewers. But if the next K900 looks as hot as some of the recent Genesis concepts—the luxury sub-brand of Kia’s parent, Hyundai, which plans to attack Lexus head-on—then Kia spokesman LeBron James might actually be proud to ride in one in public.
Last year, just 455 K900 sedans were sold nationwide, down from a very modest peak of 2524 cars sold in 2015. The brand needs such a car at home and in China, where long sedans with spacious back seats are in high demand, but the U.S. market clearly has taken a pass on this offering.
Kia had better nail the redesign as it has with the Stinger. If it does, that would more than make up for the current K900’s disappointing performance. We’ll see it first during the second quarter of this year.