• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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2014 Cadenza undertakes calculated risk

2014 Cadenza undertakes calculated risk

Moving up-market is either a bold move or one fraught with risk. When Volkswagen decided it had enough street credentials to move up the market, it launched the Phaeton. During that period, it recorded huge sales in spite of being one of the best full-sized sedans around at the time.

Conversely, when Hyundai decided to woo a wealthier clientele, it launched the full-sized Genesis sedan, which was well-received and has improved Hyundai’s image in the process. Kia is about to make the same leap into the unknown as it launches its new flagship, the Cadenza. Cadenza is the Korean model between Optima and Quoris top of the range luxury sedan.

This totally new model will be offered in two flavours base, a term used advisably, and Premium. Both models come with a ton of equipment and are top notch in terms of materials, content and fit and finish. Peter Schreyer’s push for quality and style is paying very obvious dividends.

The Cadenza is Kia’s first full-sized sedan, and it is an impressive first entry. The list of standard amenities on the base car runs from a fully articulated power driver’s seat and leather upholstery to a full-on navigation system with voice recognition and has all the desirable items in between, including eight airbags.

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Moving up to the Premium model brings more equipment (heated steering wheel, nicer Nappa leather and heated rear seats to name a few of the upgrades) plus a raft of safety technologies like lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, active HID headlights and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC).

ASCC works just like conventional cruise control by maintaining the driver’s desired speed, however, when sensors detect a vehicle ahead, the system automatically backs out of the gas and/or gently applies the brakes to maintain a driver-adjustable distance behind said vehicle.

If the car ahead comes to a standstill, ASCC helps to bring the car to a full stop if necessary. It has a functional speed range from zero to 190 km/h. When the vehicle ahead exits the lane and the road is clear, ASCC accelerates smoothly back to the preset speed.

The Cadenza’s power comes from a 3.3-litre direct-injected V6. It makes a healthy 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. To prove the engine’s mettle, it was strapped onto a dynamometer, a piece of equipment that replicates the work it will do on the road, and run at wide-open throttle and maximum load for 300 hours. After surviving this torturous test, it was run for a further 20 hours at 10% above redline, and it accomplished this without any form of self-destruct in the process.

While the engine will never see anything like these tests in real-world driving, it did serve to demonstrate just how much headroom is built into a modern engine. Cadenza’s engine should waft through the 100,000-kilometre mark without giving its owner any massive headaches. Simply put, the Kia Cadenza was designed to dance when the road begins to twist and turn.

There is no question Kia is taking a risk with the Cadenza, but it is well worth it. The past five years have changed the perception of the company. The introduction of the funky Soul saw customers going in to buy a Kia rather than just shopping the company based on price alone.

Subsequent additions, like the new Forte and Sorento along with the Optima have reinforced the notion that Kia is no longer a purveyor of cheap cars, as it now has one of the youngest and well-rounded lineups in the business.

The Cadenza will attract a new type of buyer, one that not only recognises value for money, but also wants luxury without having to pay through the nose to get it.