2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP first drive review: Cognitive dissonance for the masses

2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP

2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP

Cognitive dissonance is, loosely defined, when your beliefs don’t match reality. A tighter definition of cognitive dissonance, is Kia K900, as in, yes, a $65,000 Kia. Believe it?

Believe it. A Kia dealership, once the home of the lowly Kia Sephia, now domiciles a V-8-powered, rear-drive sedan with sophisticated styling, an elegant interior, and by Kia tradition, content well beyond what one would expect for the price.

Kia would like customers to look beyond that latter—though Kia reps, perhaps out of habit, can’t stop comparing the new Kia K900 to cars such as the BMW 7-Series, and how it’s $10K less expensive. But we’ll do our best.

2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP grille

The 2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP grille is flanked by multiple LED headlight clusters. (click to enlarge)

And that begins with the exterior. The normal reflex is to find similarities to other makes and models, and in profile, at least to these eyes, we can see elements of Jaguar, Buick and, at the C-pillar, a touch of BMW. The overall design it too soft for the latter, though yes, Jag and Buick. Which isn’t a bad thing.

A look at the profile, however, confirms its front-engine, rear-drive configuration, with a relatively generous space between the trailing edge of the front wheel arch and front edge of the front door. The long cabin suggests interior roominess, and while the rear end doesn’t have any standout lines or features other than the diffuse LED taillights (similar to those of the Kia Cadenza), the front has a tasteful rendition of the Kia “tiger” grille, all in chrome with a Jaguar-like mesh insert.

interior of the 2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP

The interior of the 2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP is covered in leather and wood. (click to enlarge)

The top-of-the-line Kia K900 V8 VIP, which we drove, has LED headlights, 16 LED bulbs in all which should produce a bright natural light—we’ll find out when we drive one at night—with adaptive steering. Unlike other headlights that turn in the direction the steering wheel is turned, the K900 actually “reads” the road ahead and instead of waiting until the wheel is turned, the headlights follow the curve of the road, anticipating where the car will go.

The body of the Kia K900 is particularly rigid with 75 percent high strength and ultra-high strength steel. The K900’s body also uses 85 meters—about a football field’s length—of what Kia calls crash-durable adhesives that also strengthen the body for even when it isn’t being crashed.

The Kia K900’s suspension is state-of-the-art with five-link layout front and rear and extensive use of aluminum front and rear, mounted on sub-frames to reduce noise and vibration and smooth the ride. The front suspension has coaxial coil-spring shock absorbers, and the K900 uses a new friction bearing in the steering column for improve straight-line stability and steering precision.  The rear sub-frame holds the differential, with the rear suspension’s coil springs and shock absorbers separate, which Kia says allows negative camber for improved cornering ability. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard, with wider tires at the rear.

2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP instrument panel

The 2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP instrument panel is completely TFT video screen. (click to enlarge)

Kia’s first V-8 is five liters with direct injection and a compression ratio of 11.5 to one runs on regular fuel yet makes 420 horsepower. It has dual CVVT variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust.

The engine is paired with an eight-speed transmission which can vary its shift mapping, depending on the manually driver-selectable settings of Eco, Normal and Sport, and each mode also adjusts the electric steering’s sensitivity. The latter works on the Kia Soul, so why not the K900?

We’re afraid of using “elegant” too much, but darn it, it applies to the inside just as much as out. The design breaks no new ground, and if we had to choose, it makes us think “Buick” in overall layout, a compliment based on what Buick has been doing lately. A chrome ring surrounds the TFT video instrument panel from left to right, encompassing the gauge cluster and the 9.2-inch multi-information display in the top center. We like the graphics on other Kia m.i.d.’s and we like them on Kia’s flagship model as well. The operation of the various features is easy, with Kia not trying to be obtuse in an effort to be different.

2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP rear armrest controls

The 2015 Kia K900 V8 VIP rear controls are in the fold-down rear armrest. (click to enalrge)

The audio system standard in the Kia K900 V8 VIP is probably better than anything in your house, with 900 watts and 17 speakers. Overkill? Perhaps, but again, it’s probably better than anything in your house.

The Kia K900 VIP has standard surround view, which via minicams front and rear and under the sideview mirrors gives an “overhead” view of the car, particularly useful in maneuvering in tight parking lots, And better than many such systems, the K900’s remains on even when the car is moving at under 2.5 mph when going forward. The driver might want to know just how close that other car is when squeezing by.