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2015 Kia K900, the South Korean auto maker’s new premium sedan, starts at $49,995. (Kia)
2015 Kia K900, the South Korean auto maker’s new premium sedan, starts at $49,995. (Kia)

Driving It Home

Can you convince a BMW fan to consider Kia? Add to ...

Picture yourself as marketing director at Kia Canada and your job is to put a few “soft” BMW and Cadillac buyers into the new K900 luxury sedan. Tough job, but not impossible.

First, by “soft” I mean these premium buyers are open to new ideas, new models, emerging brands and creative solutions. They are not married to the idea of driving a Bimmer or a Caddy. They are less status conscious. They might even like the idea of driving something from an upstart brand like Kia.

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Nonetheless, they must be convinced. The K900 is a new premium sedan from a brand whose bread and butter has been inexpensive cars like the Forte compact and the Soul crossover wagon. The K900 is a stretch for Kia, without question. Indeed, the base version of the K900, at $49,995, is more than twice the base sticker on the mid-size Optima, before sales sweeteners are factored into the mix.

The marketing boss’s second big challenge is a problem for all marketing types right across the car business: a deep reluctance to do straight head-to-head comparisons. The industry does not like to mention the competition for a long list of reasons, not least of which is that doing so also gets the names of rival models out there. Marketers also don’t want to appear brash or gauche. And sometimes their product does not stand up well under the microscope.

You at Kia, though, are best served by a take-no-prisoners approach to the K900 pitch. The car itself, a large, rear-drive sedan with a quiet ride and a choice of V-6 or V-8 engine, looks, feels and performs like others in its class. Perhaps better.

That $49,995 base K900 has a solid V-6 engine, while both the base Cadillac CTS and BMW 528i come standard with turbocharged four-bangers. If size – displacement – matters, then the Kia wins hands-down. The Kia also has an eight-speed automatic gearbox like the BMW, but the Caddy has a six-speed.

Most of all, though, the Kia pitch should go like this: dynamically, visually and technologically our K900 is a match for the Caddy and the Bimmer. But for a lot less money.

Here it’s time for the details. Comparably equipped, the base K900 has a $3,000 edge over the CTS ($51,40 for the K900, $54,550 for the CTS) and a monstrous $15,000 price advantage over the 528i. To bring the Bimmer’s equipment level up to the K900’s, the $54,600 BMW needs nearly $11,000 in options.

This is where Kia’s marketing boss should focus -- the base cars may be close in price, but if you want cars comparably equipped, you’re going to spend thousands and thousands more. Simple, but effective.

See how easy it is?

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