Here it is, the 2019 Kia K900. A car that un-ironically uses words like “classically drawn exterior” and “gravity of prestige” to describe itself. For more than four thousandwords, the Kia press release drags on and on, blah-blah luxury this, flim-flam high-tech that, worry-worry safety stuff over there. All that stuff is beside the point when you get to the part about the new K900’s powertrain and chassis.
You know what words I noticed? Albert Biermann. Yup, that Albert Biermann. The BMW tuner guy.
Kia states very flatly that the whole point of the K900 is to compete against its premium European competitors. And that phrase becomes more than marketing horse manure when you realize that Albert Biermann is the President of Kia’s Vehicle Test and High Performance Development. Yeah, the former Chief Engineer for BMW’s M performance cars with over 30 years of experience.
“The goal for the K900 was to achieve ‘confident comfort’ on the road,” he explained. “To deliver this result, we focused on four main categories: drivability, NVH, comfort, and steering precision.”
Power & Performance
The 2019 K900 is powered by a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6, the same engine found in Kia’s much-ballyhooed Stinger fastback. In the K900, it cranks out 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft. of torque, with the twin, single-scroll turbos integrated directly into the exhaust manifold; Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing broadens out the power band. A cooling system described as “robust” is there to handle the increased thermal loading with a wider radiator and 600-watt fan motor.
This plant is mated to a second-gen, in-house-built eight-speed automatic operated by a Shift-by-Wire gear selector that allows for quicker shifts during more spirited driving. And on top of all that is full-time “Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control,” or a standard all-wheel-drive system in other words. It is electronically biased towards the rear but freely distributes torque to any, and all four corners as the system sees fit. Up to 50 percent of the torque can be sent to the front, and up to 80 percent of the power can be routed to the rear in Sport mode. The K900 is the second application of this in-house system, with the Stinger being the first.
Ride & Handling
The wheelbase is longer and the stance wider for greater control and stability; the chassis was strengthened over the previous K900 with increased front and rear lateral stiffness thanks to a greater use of structural adhesives. Torsional stiffness is up by 33 percent over the outgoing K900; the new model has four times more hot stamping than before to give the vehicle a more solid and premium feel.
The K900 utilizes a wheel air curtain to minimize vortices inside the wheel arches by introducing air from the bumper. The full underbody panels reduce drag, as does an active air flap. The bottom line: a drag coefficient of .27 Cd. Noise, vibration, and harshness reduction measures are positively euro-like with enhanced insulation throughout the vehicle structure, including the firewall, underfloor cover, and vibration pad behind the headliner. There’s even an acoustic film on the windshield for a quieter cabin.
Steering & Suspension
The steering itself is an electro-mechanical, rack-mounted power assembly designed for increased agility and comfort. There’s a “slower” off-center feel, which provides a better sense of stability, especially during high-speed driving. And for anyone who has ever driven a BMW, this will feel quite normal. Huh, I wonder where Kia came up with that notion?
The four-wheel independent suspension delivers tighter and quicker turns via a new front multi-link design and by increasing the stiffness of the front and rear axle assembly. An Electronically Controlled Suspension is available to boost ride comfort. The system reduces things like chassis motion using an internal damper system to modulate the suspension accordingly.
Pricing & Availability
The new K900 will be built in Kia’s Sohari facility in South Korea, the same plant where they build the Stinger. Kia didn’t give any definite word on price, but it will hit dealers in the fourth quarter of this year. In the meantime, it’s on display at the New York International Auto Show, now through April 8th at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
I’d love to get my mitts on one of these and a good, used M3 and see what the similarities are.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.