Based on a spy report posted at Kia World, Kia is testing a new flagship sedan code-named K9 and it could go on sale within a year. According to the report, the new sedan is based on the Hyundai Equus platform and carries Hyundai's Tau V-8 engine. The transmission will reportedly be a new eight-speed automatic unit, a first for Kia or Hyundai. The K9 will be Kia's first rear-wheel-drive car.
Kia World says the K9 will go on sale in spring 2012 as a 2013 model in the Korean market and may then make its way to the United States market.
Spy photos accompanying the report show an Equus-size sedan with Kia's trademark grille nested in a front clip reminiscent of the BMW 7-series. The prototype also features large vents in its front fenders.
This is not the first the world has seen of the K9. In late 2009 Kia design chief Peter Schreyer showed a sketch of an unidentified Kia model widely believed to be the K9. At the time, some observers thought the new sedan would be a twin to the Hyundai Genesis, not the more upscale Equus.
Up to now, Kia's most upscale cars have been front-wheel-drive sedans such as the Oprius/Amanti and, more recently, the K7/Cadenza. Neither of these models are sold in the U.S. now and it is unclear if the Cadenza will make it here. If Kia were to give Americans the K9 without the Cadenza there would be a large gap in its U.S. lineup since Kia's current American flagship, the Optima, sells for about half the price of a Hyundai Equus.