Well, if photos of K9’s tooling around Southern California with state manufacturer plates are any indication, the answer would likely be yes.
This morning a reporter with Automotive News said he’d been tweeted by somebody who’d snapped a photo of one of the cars traveling along an Orange County freeway. It also appeared to sport the corporate Kia/Hyundai 3.8-liter V6 under the hood, based on “3.8” badging on the trunk.
The official line from Kia Motors America is that the car is merely being “evaluated” for potential US sale, with nothing yet set in stone. “It’s not uncommon for use to receive cars for evaluation,” said company spokesman James Hope, who also declined to comment on whether the actual car snapped belonged to Kia itself.
From the image, it appears that similar to the rendering released last year (shown above), the K9 looks like a cross between a BMW 7-Series and a larger Optima, with a similar sporty roofline and greenhouse treatment to the latter, plus fairly pronounced and muscular wheel openings.
Given that corporate strategy is pushing Kia in more of a sporty direction and touting Hyundai as the mainstream brand, there’s every indication that if the K9 does land on these shores and it does sport versions of both the V6 and Tau V8, then it will end up as a direct competitor to the Genesis and R-Spec models, exactly the kind of duplication both automakers are trying to avoid.
Nonetheless, even if that does happen, based on our evaluations of the smaller and definitely sporty Optima, we’ll still have yet another powerful, fun to drive, well built, nicely equipped sedan on our hands, which won’t necessarily be a bad thing.
[Source: Auto News]