Kia's first rear-drive large sedan in over a decade has just gone on sale in Korea. With sleek style and loads of technology in addition to its greater scale and engaging dynamic qualities, the 2013 Kia K9 is intended to elevate the brand into a new arena on an international scale — as the Kia Quoris — as well as in the home market. While Kia admits there are no current plans to bring a version of this new luxury four-door to America when global sales commence in late 2012, it has left the door open to that possibility at some point in time. And a comment by Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, noting that "the K9 is a clear signal of our intention and determination to compete head-to-head with the European luxury brands" seems to reinforce the possibility the automaker's latest offering could indeed make an appearance here -- albeit wearing a badge better suited to the U.S. market.

The exterior lines of the new Kia K9 have a decidedly Euro feel, and coupled with its long 119.9-inch wheelbase and bold proportions, they give the car a formidable presence. And with 75 percent of its unit body made from high-strength steel, the K9 should have remarkable structural rigidity. While Kia offers no specifics as to how much of its underlying architecture is directly shared with its corporate cousins, the Hyundai Genesis and Azera, the K9 does have sophisticated electronically controlled air suspension and a four-mode (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow) driver-selectable system that allows the car's chassis, steering, engine and transmission mapping to be custom tailored to various road conditions and driving styles.

Inside, the K9's spacious and luxuriously appointed cabin offers loads of advanced technology including a 12.3-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD instrument cluster, HUD (head-up display), a 17-channel/17-speaker Harman Lexicon sound system, a rear-seat entertainment package with dual 9.2-inch monitors and even an executive-oriented VIP option that adds heated/ventilated rear seat plus a single power reclining backrest, sliding cushion and extendable lower leg support on the passenger side. As expected, the K9's upscale feature set also includes things like adaptive LED headlamps, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), radar-based Blind-Spot Detection (BSD), four-camera Around-View Monitor (AVM) and Smart Cruise Control (SCC).

The new Kia K9 will offer a pair of V6s in overseas markets. Initially, it will be fitted with a 286-horsepower version of Kia's existing 3.8-liter Lambda engine but a new direct-injected 3.8-liter that makes 329-horses will become available in 2013. Both engines will be backed by a Kia-designed 8-speed automatic transmission.


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