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When in South Korea...

It's happened again: Kia's styling department catches our eye, and we don't regret looking closer. The South Korean manufacturer's new K900 sedan is stunning, and the fit- and- finish are worthy of the European luxo-barges that cost tens of thousands of dollars more. Kia, and it's corporate big brother Hyundai, have been on a role the last couple of years, from the most modest city cars, to racy rear-wheel drive coupes and sedans, to really plush rides, that --gasp-- aren't boring.

Start with the Kia Forte5: for an 'entry-level' 4-door hatch (starting around $21K), it's packed: 4-wheel ABS brakes, steering wheel audio controls, and airbags for all your friends.

Hyundai's Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. sedan is a V-8 bruiser with an 8-speed transmission that does more than hold its own against competitors like Audi's A6, and Lexus' GS 350. It may not get the props it deserves (I don't see a lot of BMW 5-ers converting), but the Germans and the Japanese (and yes, Detroit) know not to be complacent: 15 years ago, Korean cars were still punchlines to car-guy jokes. Not now. Especially with Hyundai's 10-year warrenty.

So back to the new Kia K900. Despite the rather-odd Laurence Fisherburne commercials (hey, it pays the bills), my car show-circuit pals say it looks like the top-shelf sedan that Jaguar should have designed. From the front, maybe. The inside feels like a leather sofa showroom; the LED lights do meaningful jobs, and the 9-inch center stack nav. map is glorious. the 8-speed transmission works invisibly. Kia has focused on making it the most comfortable big car for the money, and has succeeded.

All in all, not bad to have hits in almost every market segment there is.
(Photo; courtesy manufacturer)

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