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Motoring: Cadenza a surprise winner

Credit: Kia

The Kia Cadenza should be in the running for car of the year.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | September 30th, 2013

The very first press car I got from Kia Canada was back in 2005, and it was their flagship model, the Amanti.

The Amanti was an interesting car. It was Kia's first attempt at a luxury-esque car, and while its styling was quite derivative (many called it a fake Mercedes-Benz Eclass or Jaguar S-Type), as a whole, I thought the car was quite good.

It was smooth, comfortable, practical and reliable, and I still think they make good used car buys.

However, despite what the Amanti offered, buyers didn't take it very seriously and not many were sold.

Kia hopes that their latest luxury flagship will fare much better. It is called the Cadenza, and I just spent a week with one.

First of all, the styling of this new model is also a bit derivative (it seems to have taken some design inspiration from BMW and Audi), but the end result looks attractive. It was penned by Kia's ace designer, Peter Schreyer, who is credited with all of the makes current beauties. The design details on the Cadenza are stunning and really shout about its luxuriousness.

Open the door and that luxury feeling heightens. Everywhere you look and touch, you will find quality that is often missing on cars that cost twice as much. This is a beautifully finished car and competitors better take note.

It is also seriously well equipped. The Cadenza offers a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, a premium sound system, an LCD dashboard display, automatic climate control, a heated and cooled driver's seat, heated seats for all passengers, a heated steering wheel, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, active cruise control that works all the way down to 0 km/h, blind spot detection system, lane departure detection system, panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, LED taillights, reversing camera, and so much other stuff, that if I start writing it all out, I'll need to take over the entire paper.

On top of the features, the interior offers a ton of space in the front and back, and the trunk is huge. Couple its space with its superbly comfortable ride, and it makes covering distances a very easy task. I have been at spas that have been less comfortable than this car. If it had a massaging seat, it'd be complete.

However, features are one thing, a car has to, above all, be nice to drive. To propel it along, it has a 3.3-litre, V6 engine that features variable valve timing. This motor produces 293hp and 255lb/ft of torque. Power is sent to just the front wheels via a smooth six-speed automatic. The mechanicals are fine, if not ground-breaking or exciting. The engine tuning in the Cadenza is much better than what this unit achieves in the Sorento, for instance, the power delivery feels constant and smooth, and the engine works the torque rather than constantly hunting down for a lower gear. This makes for a more luxurious, relaxing driving feel.

It is also quite frugal, as I averaged just 9.8 litres/100km in my week, which is very impressive.

What is not very impressive about this vehicle is its handling, but I wasn't expecting this to be the type of car that would encourage you to carve up a mountain road, neither did Kia set it up that way. It is softly sprung, but its body composure is still better than what you'd expect from such a car. What really impressed me is the fact that Kia designers used their knowledge and ensured that this big, luxurious vehicle is still light. At 1,575 kg for the ‘Premium' model, like my tester, the Cadenza is lighter than some sports cars — it's 300 kg lighter than a new Chevrolet Camaro.

Kia really did encompass all their talents into making the Cadenza, and it shows.

To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to my time in the Cadenza, thinking it would be a slow, boring, land yacht. It proved me wrong. It turned out to be one of the best family cars I have driven all year. I say, the Cadenza deserves to be in the running for Car of the Year. If it doesn't win some award, the judging panel doesn't know what they're doing.

Pricing for the 2014 Kia Cadenza starts from $37,795.
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