Kia is preparing to launch its first rear-wheel-drive car, codenamed KH. Shown here in teaser sketches, the new KH sedan will serve as Kia's flagship vehicle when it goes on sale in South Korea in the first half of this year.
The luxury car depicted by the sketches is remarkably similar to the Kia we saw testing in Sweden last week. It will almost certainly be based on the Hyundai Genesis; Kia says the KH wears "distinctive, modern, and classic" styling. The front features the brand's signature mesh grille design on a curved fascia, while the tail sports a sloping rear windshield and chrome-accented trunklid. Character lines run parallel to the beltline along each side of the KH. The car's nose almost resembles that of a BMW 5 Series GT, while the profile bears a strong resemblance to the aforementioned Hyundai.
Kia says launch timing for the KH in markets outside of Korea will be announced later, although the company says that the new flagship won't be sold in Europe. We see that as a near guarantee that the KH will make it the American market within the next year. Launching a luxury car here would elevate Kia's reputation, and allow the company to compete with the Hyundai Genesis, as well as both domestic and European luxury sedans.
Engine choices could include the same 333-hp, 3.8-liter V-6; 385-hp, 4.6-liter V-6; or 429-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 engines on offer in the U.S.-market Genesis. It's possible that the KH will mark the debut of the ten-speed automatic transmission under development by Hyundai and Kia. The gearbox is slated to debut in the Hyundai Genesis and Equus by 2014.