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The Kia K5: Cutting-edge Technologies Behind a Striking New Design


It is not just its design that makes it stand out. Not only it exceeds our expectations for its basic features, but it also has got the potential to change the history of Korean mid-size sedans for its many other amenities.

It has been already a decade since the first-generation K5 was released. And there are many of them on the streets until now, looking not outdated at all. It’s because it was especially influential design-wise. Presenting Kia’s next-generation design direction, the new K5 brings with it a new silhouette.

But K5 stands out in many other ways, not only from an aesthetic perspective but also from a mechanical perspective. There are many important factors to consider when consumers choose their cars – fuel efficiency, safety, suitability, quality, and the list goes on. With these in mind, K5 indeed had to go through tough times.

Then how did the third-generation K5 develop its design and other features? Here’s the answer to the biggest question.

The third-generation K5 marks a greater leap forward between generations than any of its predecessors. It is more like an evolution rather than an improvement, and there is no doubt that the design of the Kia K5 is bold, standing out from its competitors.

The Kia K5 offers a fresh face, without decorating it with a chrome strip, integrating its LED headlamps into the grille, with a heartbeat daytime running light signature expressing the raised levels of emotion the car is meant to inspire. The K5 features a more aggressive front, with the grille nestled beneath a subtle overhang on the hood’s leading edge, parenthesized by angular air curtains and a wider air intake in the lower half of the bumper.

In profile, the K5 displays a greater sense of muscularity, with the body narrowing slightly at the midpoint between wheel arches – inspired by the coke-bottle shape of the Stinger’s body. The shoulder line gradually rises, narrowing the glasshouse towards the rear of the car and giving the car a sportier, ‘lean-forward’ stance when viewed from the side. The K5’s proportions are key to its sportier attitude.

Topped by this flash of chrome, the rear of the K5 also boasts a new lighting signature, with its predecessor’s standalone light units replaced by a new LED daytime running light which spans the width of the rear deck. It reminds us of the elegant sweeping lines of calligraphy. The dashes of light that extend across the tailgate echo the same ‘heartbeat’ shape of the front lights, while a subtle ducktail shape to its rear deck is matched by a sportier lower bumper design and a chrome dual muffler design.

Elegant by design, and with a timeless, minimalist layout, the interior of the new K5 provides the driver and passengers with a peaceful retreat in which to spend time. And for this reason, just like many other car manufacturers, Kia also tries to make the interior and exterior of its models look as different as possible.

Yet, there still lies similarity and harmony. The futuristic driver-oriented interior of the K5 is trimmed in a selection of tactile materials while the wide and horizontal symmetry creates a sense of space and harmony. The dashboard is finished in a series of metallic and wood-effect surfaces for a more sophisticated appearance and feels, depending on vehicle specifications.

The K5’s suite of advanced safety, connectivity, and infotainment technologies make it one of the most high-tech, comprehensively-equipped cars in its class.

The range of features makes driving safer and less stressful, providing total ease of use – sometimes, there are buttons, dials, and switches for realistic clicks. Or, sometimes it provides better convenience with touch panels. For the transmission style, the dial is one distinguishing point of the K5. Kia wanted it to feel different not only from the traditional cable transmission levers but also from the digital transmission buttons that Kia has been using of late.

While sitting inside the cabin, passengers would feel somewhat between the sportiness and comfort. The vehicle seats are carefully designed regarding height, size, and ergonomics. Though the roof and the panoramic moonroof do not help the height of the interior, the feeling of space is somehow enhanced, especially for the rear seats.

The K5 allows its drivers and passengers to control a range of features in the car, including climate control, electric windows, heating for the steering wheel, seats and rear glass, and the audio system. The cabin houses front and rear USB ports, a wireless smartphone charging device, and relaxation seats. The cabin incorporates an optional touchscreen infotainment system, incorporating audio-visual navigation, and Kia’s new high-resolution digital instrument cluster, providing crystal-clear information to the driver. The K5 is available with a head-up display, which projects driving information on to a small glass panel in the driver’s line of sight. The driver can also change the graphics of the dashboard display and the elegantly-designed infotainment home screen soothes all the passengers.

Now it’s time to step up its game, to see how it actually runs. The new K5 is developed based on the third-generation platform. Though not the first of its kind, we wondered how it is going to reveal its character as one of the Kia models.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel is quite a sporty touch, making the K5 distinguishable from other competitors. The K5 offers a tailored driving experience that enables drivers to adapt the car’s acceleration, steering and gear shift characteristics on the fly. Yet, it also features soft steering, so that the road condition does not affect the driver too much.

The car we tested is powered by a smartstream G2.0 gasoline engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Kia has calibrated the transmission carefully to smoothen the gear shift.

It should not be a problem for the Kia K5 to have the 1.6-liter T-GDi engine or even more powerful ones. According to a trip computer, fuel consumption with two adults sitting in the car was better than official combined fuel consumption on paper.

K5 also provides peace and quietness, with road and wind noise levels amply muted. Even when the engine should be roaring at high speed, the passengers would not have to raise their voices.

The K5’s voice recognition software, Kakao-i, allows drivers to use voice commands to control a range of features in the car. When we asked Kakao-i quite a tricky question “Who starred in Two Days & One Night?”, it responded after a few seconds, “The cast of the fourth season of Two Days & One Night of KBS 2TV is…”.

Then we went, “show me the best cold noodle restaurants in Gwangjin Province”, and KaKao-i gave us a lot of options. The feature also included climate control, electric windows, heating for the steering wheel, seats and rear glass, and the audio system. This new addition to the K5 allows drivers to keep two hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road ahead.

The K5 brags about a range of passive and active safety and driver-assist systems, protecting occupants and other road users on every journey. Kia’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) help to reduce many of the inherent hazards and stresses of driving. The ADAS range in the new K5 includes Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) or Navigation-based SCC (NSCC), Lane Following Assist (LFA), and Driver Attention Warning (DAW). Lane Following Assist (LFA) controls steering depending on the vehicles in front. LFA uses camera to monitor road markings to keep the K5 in the center of its lane.

The third-generation K5 brings modern style, technology, and amenities to a midsize sedan that’s built to fit your lifestyle. With a suite of impressive standard features and exciting options for turbocharged engines, K5 offers a lot to love.

The market expands through competition as numerous automakers enter with their finest weapon. But K5 looks strong enough to win the battles. Just like its predecessor, the first-generation K5, changed the course of the history of Kia’s mid-size sedans, the third-generation K5 will change the history of Korean mid-size sedans.