The Kia Quoris is the Korean manufacturer’s new flagship saloon, and a clear signal of the brand’s intention to compete head-to-head with the European motor manufacturers in the executive and luxury saloon sectors.
The five-metre-long, rear-drive machine is predominantly angled at the USA, Middle East and Russia, as well as the domestic South Korean market. In some countries, the Quoris is also known as the K900 or K9.
Already on sale in Kia’s homeland, the US market K9 was unveiled at the LA motor show in 2013.
Kia concedes that the prospect of an executive offering bearing its badge might seem incongruous to those European consumers who are more used to its range of competitively priced compact cars and SUVs.
However, it has been encouraged by healthy US sales of top-of-the-range versions of cars such as the Cadenza saloon, which suggests there is a consumer acceptance of Kia-branded high-end cars in America.
While the Korean-market K9 is powered by a 3.3-litre engine, overseas markets will have a 3.8-litre V6 or 5.0-litre V8, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. US pricing hasn’t been determined, but the range is expected to fall between $45,000 and $75,000.
One area is space; at 5090mm in length and with a 3045mm wheelbase, K9 offers vast amounts of interior room for even the tallest of occupants in the front or back. It is clearly a car designed for driving or being driven in, and there’s also a sizeable boot.
Another plus point is the amount of equipment and technology the Quoris is offered with, with the US market getting two trims - Premium and Luxury and two engines - a 3.8-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8. The entry-level Premium models with folding, heated wing mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, solar control glass, which limits the amount of sunlight into the cabin to keep the heat down inside. Also there is acoustic glazed windows, automatic headlights and wipers, and a twin chrome exhaust system, and that is just the outside. Inside there is tri-zone climate control, rear sunblinds, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable driver's seat, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, while upfront there is Kia's touchscreen infotainment system with front and rear cameras, USB connectivity, Bluetooth, sat nav and satellite radio.
Upgrade to Luxury and the Quoris gains LED headlights, 360-degree camera system, a Lexicon audio system, Nappa leather upholstery, and a heated steering wheel, while a raft of Kia's autonomous safety technology is the reserve of the 5.0-litre V8 model.
Even with plenty of kit, the overall cabin ambience isn’t a match for German rivals. The quality of the plastic toggles, buttons and switches doesn’t look or feel as plush, even if there are loads of them in both the front and back.
Nevertheless, it is extremely comfortable, with cosseting air suspension – standard on high-spec models – capably soaking up the bumps; and the lack of noise intrusion into the cabin is very impressive too.
Our drive through the permanently congested centre of Seoul offered few opportunities to exploit the full power of the 3.8-litre V6, although it did prove capable of shifting away from traffic lights with a pleasing amount of gusto.
Ultimately, the Quoris is tuned for comfort and not dynamic prowess. The steering is numb and the car has a tendency to wallow rather than waft around corners.
Different driver modes are available at the touch of a button, but when the most dynamic Sport mode was engaged we didn’t discern much of a difference during our (admittedly slow-speed) drive.
Kia has no plans to sell the Quoris in Europe. Even if it did, it would face a tough task to steal sales from the superior and more dynamic offerings from the long-established and ruthlessly efficient brands that operate in this market space.
The Quoris is not without its plus points, but in this rarified sector of the car market, making an executive statement starts with the badge on the front of your car, and Kia doesn’t have the same cachet as the German makes.
Or, at least, it doesn’t yet. But in the USA, where Kia’s brand image is markedly different and its highly specified models sell strongly, the Quoris’s generous equipment and space might hold some appeal.
It is best to view this car as a signal of intent for a future in which Kia intends to branch further into new markets. And who would bet against the Korean manufacturer from succeeding in the long-term, as it has in other segments?