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New York show: Front-drive Kia Cadenza not for Oz

Forward eight: The Kia Cadenza is Kia’s first front-drive model to feature an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Second-generation Kia Cadenza unveiled in NYC debuts eight-speed auto, safety tech


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24 Mar 2016

AUSTRALIAN Kia fans seeking a bigger sedan than the Optima had better move to North America, where the second-generation Cadenza has just been revealed at the New York motor show – and will be right-hand-drive only.

Nestled in the North American Kia sedan range between the Optima and the rear-drive K900, the Californian-designed new Cadenza aims to build on the success of its critically-acclaimed predecessor with a premium interior, high levels of technology and an improved combination of ride comfort and dynamics.

Hyundai-Kia’s familiar 3.3-litre V6 engine has received fuel-efficiency tweaks for the new Cadenza but the real driveline highlight is the South Korean company’s first eight-speed automatic transmission for front-wheel-drive vehicles, developed in-house and said to be lighter than the outgoing six-speed despite having an extra two ratios.

Further technological advancements include a version of blind-spot monitoring that detects when the Cadenza is getting too close to an adjacent vehicle and brakes the opposite-side front wheel to pull it back into line and prevent a collisionAlso available are adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning.

There is also a head-up display and higher-resolution around-view monitor camera display with reversing guidelines for the rear camera plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a 12-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system and automatic boot opening when the car detects someone with the key fob behind it for more than three seconds.

Styling inside and out is closer to the premium-positioned K900 than the everyman Optima, the grille representing an evolution of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ motif and higher specification levels getting a unique chrome treatment with horizontal bars to compliment the Z-shaped LED signature strips on the chunky headlights and sleek 3D-effect LED-illuminated taillights.

Following the premium trend of wraparound dashboards, the Cadenza interior can be specified with Nappa leather and features soft-touch materials, leathers and contrast stitching across four colour combinations.

The front seats have been lowered compared with the original Cadenza and fitted with a new rotate-and-slide leg support extension plus upgraded heating elements that are said to more evenly distribute warmth and intelligently reduce to a background heat setting once up to temperature.

More than twice the amount of high-strength steel has been used in the new Cadenza’s body construction than the outgoing model, the side panels are more dent-resistant, some suspension components are now aluminium instead of steel and overall structural stiffness has been increased by 35 per cent.

Suspension settings for comfort and dynamics have also been overhauled, with ‘amplitude selective’ dampers using additional valves to provide better body control on various surface types and hydraulic rebound stoppers smoothing progress over broken bitumen.

The steering system has been upgraded to more powerful 32-bit electronics, which are claimed to improve response and on-centre feel.

Acoustic glass in the windscreen and side windows, a full floorpan cover and increased A-pillar insulation have improved wind and road noise while reducing overall noise, vibration and harshness.

In addition to the Cadenza’s RHD-only production, Australia’s declining large car segment makes a weak case for the investment in conversion and import.

Despite the much-improved second-generation Optima being released in Australia last November, sales are down 11.1 per cent to the end of February this year with 169 registered – against a backdrop of overall Kia ales being up 25.1 per cent in the same timeframe.

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