2015 Kia K900 V-8 Long-Term Update 5
Picking Nits in a Solid, Luxurious Interior
The Kia K900 High Performance concept from the 2014 SEMA Show got me thinking about modifications I'd like to see on the production car -- and, no, I'm not talking about the show car's remote turbochargers housed beneath a glass panel in the trunk. Instead I'm looking more at the SEMA car's bold and beautiful tan leather seats with black suede inserts. Our K900 has a respectable luxury-car interior, but there are still a few areas that could be improved. Let's dive into the minute details.
As for that 650-hp show car's two-tone seats and carbon-fiber accents, I don't expect Kia to introduce anything like that for the 2016 or 2017 K900, but now it's clear the automaker is capable of more. Kia touts the fact that the new 2015 Sedona minivan has the same Nappa leather -- in SXL trim -- as the K900. And not only is that true, but the minivan's light-tan leather is complemented by black leather on the outsides of the seats, as well as white piping and in some color combinations, orange stitching. Aside from the orange stitching, I wouldn't mind seeing those seats on the K900. Cool fact: Kia says that the Nappa seats come from a two-year search to find just the right leather.
For those who want a more eye-catching interior look on the K900 today, Kia offers white leather seats with black piping - it's a good look, though I wonder how tough it would be to keep them clean. The same goes for the ultra-thick carpets that line the passenger footwells and cover the trunk of our long-termer. I wouldn't think of owning a K900 without them, but keeping them clean can be a challenge.
Overall, our K900 long-termer definitely has a premium interior, but I'd really like to see more ambient LED lighting on a next-generation model. There's a bit of red lighting in front, but it's not customizable as in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, or as extensive as in the Buick LaCrosse. The slick BMW-like gear selector (standard on the V-8 and optional on the still-not-available V-6) is an upscale touch that works fine, and I appreciate that the CD player slot is positioned lower than the 9.2-inch center-stack screen.
If I can get a little snooty for a moment, I much prefer the feel of the buttons in the one-size-down 2015 Hyundai Genesis over the K900's. As with the Jaguar F-Type, the Genesis sedan features buttons with a smooth and premium feel you notice every time the HVAC settings or sound system controls are touched. Continuing with the theme of ultra-specific detail improvements, more solid-feeling interior door pulls would be a great addition too, if they won't break the engineering budget on a future K900.
Getting into the driver's seat, everything works as you'd expect, but the steering wheel buttons aren't as useful as the 2015 Sedona's rotating volume and instrument cluster display controls. The Sedona controls are easier to use compared to holding down the "volume down" button for a couple seconds when you want to quickly lower the volume without accidentally engaging the horn - trust me on that one.
The Digital Instrument Cluster
The fully digital instrument cluster is a great feature, but the mechanically related Hyundai Equus has a better execution. First, for optimal visibility, I always want the speedometer on the right side and the tachometer on the left side (the K900's display and others in this segment have the speedometer on the left), since having it on the right makes it a tad easier to view when my polarized sunglasses cause the head-up display to almost completely disappear. I will say that the Kia instrument cluster screen's welcome and goodbye graphics are much appreciated and luxurious details. Still, when I'm switching from Sport to Normal or Eco mode, I want a far more visible change in the instruments. In the Equus, the displays noticeably change, and a red or blue light shines down in the center, depending on the selected mode.
From extra LED ambient lighting to the feel of the interior door pulls (the exterior door pulls feel great), these are the types of details you don't get a pass on in the flagship luxury sedan segment. The K900 is a great effort, and the interior befits its up-to-$66,400 price, but as with everything, there's room for improvement. Stay tuned -- in future updates I'll share what I think about the infotainment controls and plenty more.
More on our long-term Kia K900 V-8 here: