When penning a Christmas wish list to give to your well-heeled relatives, stuff like “Cessna Citation Longitude” and “Mercedes-Maybach S600” might make the list below the case of Veuve Clicquot and above the Russian sturgeon caviar. “Kia” typically doesn’t enter this conversation, but with the 2017 Kia Cadenza, it won’t be for a lack of trying.
The Cadenza is the sister to Hyundai’s Genesis sedan, which now goes by G70 under the Genesis luxury brand. Kia — the ‘fun’ sibling of the Korean family — hasn’t spun it’s luxury offerings out yet, keeping the Cadenza and K900 sedans under the same roof as the Sportage, Rio, Soul, Forte, and Optima, among others.
At the New York Auto Show, Chief Operating Officer Michael Sprague told us that this is largely due not only because Hyundai is at a different place with it’s luxury cars, but because Kia customers were walking out with loaded Optimas and wanting more. They had the money, but Kia had no higher option to offer, Sprague added. Enter Cadenza.
“Everything you see and touch in the Cadenza’s cabin has been improved, but it’s underneath where the Cadenza truly shines with a stiffer and lighter chassis, eight–speed transmission and vastly improved driving dynamics,” said Orth Hedrick, in Kia’s press release.
Overall, the exterior has been strung taught and tightened up, replacing the round, bubbly language with straight, angular lines. In front, the Cadenza will actually have two separate fascias depending on the trim: Kia’s “Diamond Butterfly” front grille that features the same three-dimensional pattern as other cars in its stable, or the “Intaglio” grille, with vertically oriented, faceted blades like the one pictured above.
The new Cadenza will get a tweaked 3.3 liter V6 good for an estimated 290 horsepower, but we’ll have to wait for exact power figures and fuel economy numbers until closer to the car’s release. Kia has added a 32-bit electronic control module to bump out the 16-bit module for better, more precise steering, and larger use of aluminum in it’s new chassis helps cut wait and bolster handling.
In all, the new Cadenza — despite being an inherently risky vehicle for Kia to begin with because of it’s luxury pretensions– doesn’t break and new dramatic ground. It’s a safe, conservative sedan with a reliable powertrain and a comfortable, quiet interior, and for many, there isn’t a need for much more than that.
Hyundai may be keeping its luxury at arms’ length, but Kia is rightfully taking credit for this one. We’ll be getting up close and personal with it at the New York Auto Show this week.