2015 Kia K900 V-8 Long-Term Update 2
Kia is smart not to offer a sport package on the 2015 K900 V-8. The brand-image-boosting K900 is being launched in volumes low enough that it might not make financial sense to offer one, and, in any case, a sport package would be a mistake on a car like this. Those who want a sporty look or feel can consider a Lexus LS 460 F Sport or an Audi A8 with the sport package. As we've been learning with our long-term Kia, the K900 V-8 is best suited for the driver who wants a traditional luxury-car experience.
Rolling on 19-inch wheels with 245/45R19 tires in front and 275/40R19 Continental ContiProContacts in the back, the 2015 K900 V-8 is quiet on the highway. The suspension is also softly tuned, bordering on too soft in select driving circumstances. Roll at 40 mph across an intersection with an abrupt change of pavement height, and you'll feel it. Most of the time, though, the car does fine in a straight line.
Then, as you round a corner with a reasonable amount of speed, body roll enters the picture. It's nothing out of the ordinary for a car this big, but I could still do with less of it. Slamming the throttle to the floor will cause the car's nose to lift up, making for a more dramatic exit away from a stop. I've actually come to like that -- it makes full-throttle blasts feel like more of an adventure than they really are. Unfortunately, the other side of that picture is the way the body rebounds a bit after you come to a stop with moderate braking force -- a subtle effect that more sensitive passengers might notice, and one I could really do without.
A car such as the K900 V-8 should be driven sensibly on winding back roads, but if your lead-footed son/daughter/partner gets behind the wheel, I can tell you the Kia's tires won't hesitate to point out their discomfort and, overall, you never forget you're behind the wheel of a classy-looking but very large luxury sedan. Again, if you're looking for full-size luxury sedan space with midsize luxury sport sedan dynamics, you've missed the point of this car.
Even so, a Sport mode is offered as part of the drive mode select system that's standard on all 2015 K900s regardless of engine (Normal, Eco, and Snow are the other modes). The system can be accessed by pressing a button in front of the electronic parking brake lever and the attractive BMW-like gear selector stalk. It would be nice if the car could default to your last-used setting upon startup, but that's a complaint we could level against many such drive-mode systems from other brands.
Eco mode reduces accelerator pedal response, tweaks transmission settings, and limits the air conditioner's performance, though I can't say I've ever noticed a change in that last detail. I use Eco mode sparingly, but find it helpful when my parents or parents-in-law are in the backseat, as the duller throttle response encourages smoother takeoffs. Sport mode is effective -- the change in how the transmission responds is immediate, and the steering weight feels just a tad heavier, too. Adding a bit more weight to the steering with the normal transmission response would serve as an ideal Normal mode.
The 2015 K900 V-8 luxury sedan has absolutely no pretensions of sportiness. While I would appreciate slightly less body roll, and especially, more controlled body motions, take it easy and the Kia does a pretty good impression of a name-brand luxury car.
More on our long-term Kia K900 V-8 here: