I’m well past Kia’s slogan of “The Power to Surprise”. Really, I am. Because their vehicles aren’t surprising anymore. We’re coming up to the decade mark in which German born automobile designer Peter Schreyer has righted the previously bland South Korean ship. And with their recent plunge into the luxury market with the Cadenza and K900 flagship sedan, Kia is offering maximum luxury without the heavy price tag. The only obstacle Kia has is itself. Kinda like the youngest sibling who wants to be taken seriously but can’t because of 10 older siblings.
Kia has stumbled though their awkward teenage phase (like most of us have) and are illustrating that that they deserve to be in the ever evolving, ultra-competitive extremely brand-loyal luxury car market.
The 2016 Kia Cadenza is a front wheel drive, luxury sedan that’s brimming with high class materials and design throughout, from its signature “tiger nose” grille to its sleek, LED tail lights.
With a minimalistic approach to the exterior, the Cadenza sits beautifully upon available 19” wheels. The smooth design lines, sweeping roofline and “suit and tie” demeanour give it a polished, luxurious look that’s on par with its German counterparts.
The available adaptive front lighting system that responds to the steering angle is a classy touch that boosts safety on low-lit roads.
There are welcome lights inside the door handles are smart as are the power heated folding side mirrors.
The windows on the top of the line Cadenza Tech (which I tested) had hydrophobic glass, which is designed to repel water for clearer vision. Pretty spiffy, Kia.
Power wise, all Cadenza’s are powered by a 3.3L V6 GDI six-speed engine producing 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft. of torque. Kia’s helped save you some cash by propelling this luxury car with regular gas, not the premium stuff. On a 70L tank, that’s a significant reduced cost if you fill up weekly.
The handling is precise, steering is accurate and responsive and overall ride quality is outstanding.
Sure, Kia could’ve found an extra seven horsepower to reach the 300 mark but I’m happy they didn’t as there’s plenty of power as is. Acceleration is smooth and brisk, giving the driver a strong sense of confidence. Paddle shifters are there if the controlling side of you shows up periodically. Personally, the Cadenza is just so damn smooth and accurate as is that I’m happy to let it do the shifting.
Fuel efficiency in a closed environment clocks in at decent 12.7 city and 8.4 highway via L/100km, so count on those figures to be a touch higher in the real world.
City driving is a pleasure, even with a grid of stoplights and stop signs dictating your path. Must be that ultra-comfortable ride quality. Where the Cadenza shines is on the highway, where you’ll enjoy little road noise and an extremely serene driving experience.
My suggestion for Kia is that they toss the FWD system and incorporate RWD or AWD…I’d lean towards an AWD system, personally. They’ve done such a tremendous job on the rest of the car to reach luxury status, why not go that final few miles?
Once you enter the Cadenza, you’ll get a true appreciation of just how well-appointed this car is.
Starting with the electric tilt/telescopic steering, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, power Napa leather seats, chrome accents, wood-grain trim, heated/cooled front seats and heated rear seats (all available on Premium and Tech trims), Kia’s jammed this car full of goodies. There’s a mile long list of features and specs that puts them on par with other luxury offerings.
With a clean, simplistic dashboard layout, including the available TFT LCD dashboard that’s easy to read in nearly any lighting condition, there’s a high-end look and feel to the materials included.
The eight-inch centre console is easy to operate and very responsive, especially when you’re adjusting the standard 12-speaker Infinity audio system. And yes, it’s crystal clear and incredibly powerful.
Yes, the list is long and strong for what the Cadenza offers and I’m happy to vouch that the actual “feel” of the car is just as impressive. From the push button start to the back-up camera, the high quality feel is something that Kia has taken very seriously in the Cadenza. And given the entry price of only $37,995 and maxed out price of $45,595, there’s superb value to be had.
Let’s not forget about the safety technology on the Tech trim, including BLIS, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
Trunk space chimes in at 451 L and rear seating is very comfortable for two, even though there’s room for three.
A notable absence is a power trunk, which is a nice-to-have feature for me but definitely not a deal breaker.
Kia’s foray into the luxury market isn’t going to see them dethrone king in the short term. Instead, they’re aware of what it takes to be mentioned in the same luxury breath and treating the Cadenza as a marathon, not a sprint.
With a beautifully built, strong vehicle that’s elegant and lavish throughout, coupled with a price tag that’s far lower than you’d expect, the agile and graceful Cadenza is definitely worth appearing on your short-list.
Unsurprisingly, Kia’s biggest competitor will be itself. Having consumers realize that they’re a solid competitor in the luxury car market is becoming easier and if they stay the course with the Cadenza, expect to see a change in consumer behaviour, especially since we’re looking to get more for less more than ever.
2016 Kia Cadenza $37,995
2016 Kia Cadenza Premium $41,995
2016 Kia Cadenza Tech $45,595
Yay: Upscale styling throughout, great fit and finish, strong handling, quick, luxurious, great pricing
Nay: Trade the FWD for AWD or RWD, faces an uphill battle against its own name