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First look: Kia flies its flagship

Sketched: The first images of the left-hand-drive only Kia KH large sedan have emerged two months ahead of its South Korean launch.

Kia’s first rear-drive large car teased ahead of 2012 launch – but not for Australia

13 Feb 2012

KIA Motors has revealed sketches of its first rear-wheel-drive sedan, codenamed KH, just two months out from its showroom launch in South Korea.

The new flagship model is believed to be based on Hyundai’s Genesis large sedan and coupe platform, and like the Hyundai version is not destined for Australia as it will be built only in left-hand drive.

Kia Motors Australia national public relations manager Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto today that Kia head office had confirmed that no right-hand-drive version would be available, putting it off the local agenda.

It is not clear if the platform under the Kia KH has been taken from the current five-year-old Genesis or a new model that must be due soon.

Unlike numerous other vehicles revealed recently in teaser sketch form, the Kia KH does not appear to be set for an imminent motor show release at Geneva or New York, as there is no mention of such an event in the accompanying media release.

Kia sister company Hyundai is getting set to show its I-oniq concept at the Geneva show next month, a vehicle purported to reveal the next evolution of that brand’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language.

17 center imageFrom top: Kia KH, Hyundai i-oniq sketch, Genesis sedan and coupe, Kia GT concept.

The KH was developed under the code-name K9 until someone within the organisation suggested a name change for obvious reasons.

Kia has not provided any hint at the powertrains or final showroom name of the car, which like all new-generation Kias has been designed under the guidance of former Audi stylist Peter Schreyer.

Another Schreyer large rear-wheel drive car design, called the Kia GT, was shown at the Frankfurt motor show last September, but scrutiny of the panel shapes and shut lines of the new KH indicates it is not based on the previous show car.

The coupe-like silhouette, rear-opening ‘suicide’ doors and side panel sculpting of the GT sports sedan all are missing in translation into the KH.

Kia describes KH as among the company’s most eagerly anticipated new models, confirming it will be launched in South Korea in the first half of this year before being rolled out overseas on a timetable to be confirmed.

Promising innovative design and high-tech features, Kia describes the design concept as “distinctive, modern and classic”, with “technically-advanced elements combined with Kia’s existing dynamic design language”.

The KH is said to get “Kia’s charismatic family-look radiator grille” – known as the ‘tiger grille’ – flanked by “modern headlamps that reinforce the brand’s innovative challenger image, and the proportions of the unique hood design give KH a classic car-like feel”.

The rear combination lamp clusters are described as high tech.

Kia’s overseas marketing group director Soon-Nam Lee said the all-new flagship sedan integrated all of Kia’s key capabilities such as design, performance, high-tech features and infotainment into one striking model.

“Although launch timings for overseas markets are yet to be confirmed, this all-new rear-wheel drive large sedan will definitely become the leading model of our line-up around the world, showcasing the best of the best of Kia,” he said.

The big Genesis, which was first shown as a concept at the 2007 New York motor show, is sold in South Korea, North America and China.

It is offered with a choice of 3.3-litre or 3.8-litre Lambda V6, or award-winning 4.6-litre and 5.0-litre Tau V8.

The coupe, which was also launched in 2008, comes with a choice of four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo engines – producing 160kW or 202kW of power – or a 3.8-litre V6.

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