Big Dog K9 Cruiser


Good looks and a kit count that’ll beat rivals may mean the Kia K9 can challenge American-built execs, but it’s some way off the best Europe has to offer. Which is just as well as there are no plans to sell it over here. But with decent quality and a comfy ride, plus a long warranty in the US (like the UK) it has ‘great value used car’ written all over it.

Kia might not normally spring to mind when you’re talking executive cars, but the Kia K9 flagship model, also know as the Kia Quoris, is about to go into battle against the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class in the US. As if established Japanese brands Lexus and Infiniti have it tough enough battling BMW, Mercedes and Audi, the Koreans are having a go, too.

The Kia K9 may not be heading to the UK, but the next version of its smaller brother, the K7 or Cadenza, might be – so it’s a good indication of whether Kia should bother.

And let’s be honest from the outset, the badge on the bonnet means it’s going to have a tough time. But with strong quality, a fair dose of style and value on its side, could the K9 provide something of an upset?

Look beyond that badge and you’ll find a surprisingly good executive car. It’s packed to the gunnels with technology from LED headlights to a full-colour head-up display. Safety kit is strong, too, with lane keep assist (that beeps, vibrates and warns you in the head-up display) and adaptive cruise control.

Even the doors will close themselves if half shut.

Build quality is okay with some nice plastics, buttons and switches – it’s not up to German standards, but better than most American executive rivals. However it’s a shame the interior looks so unexciting.

All those positives mean for nothing if the car doesn’t drive well. US cars will get a 5.0-litre V8 with 423bhp or 3.8-litre V6s with 330bhp or 290bhp, although our test car in Korea came with a rather wheezy 3.3-litre V6.

Air suspension means a comfortable ride, but a lack of body control and weighty but lifeless steering mean it’s more of a cruiser than a back-road blaster. Refinement is top-notch, though, as is space in the back – size-wise the car sits between executive and luxury car size and that shows with enormous legroom in the rear.

Ultimately, though, this car has to be a toe in the executive car water for Kia. Maybe in a few generations time, the brand and the car itself may be able to compete with the executive big guns, but for now, no matter how appealing on paper, the K9 is going to struggle against established players.

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