Updated at: 01/15/2013 1:07 PM
By DAVID RUNK
(AP) DETROIT - Kia is making a move into the North American premium sedan market with the 2014 Cadenza, aiming for buyers looking for a car in the gap between mainstream and luxury.
The Cadenza was unveiled Tuesday during press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Kia Motors America said the car, which replaces its Amanti, comes amid interest among its customers for a sedan with more upscale amenities and technology.
"This flagship sedan signals a new era for our brand and delivers a number of premium features we’ve never offered before," said Tom Loveless, executive vice president for sales at Kia Motors America. "All that technology is wrapped in simple and sophisticated design."
Kia had a little fun during the unveiling of the Cadenza, with dancers carrying glowing computer tablets surrounding the car. And Peter Schreyer, who oversees design for Kia and Hyundai Motor Co., appeared via three tablets showing his face on the head of a person on stage.
The arm of South Korean automaker Kia Motors Corp. describes the Cadenza as having elements of European design, which help define the higher-end market, and it will be offered with Kia’s most powerful V-6 engine. Kia in 2009 launched a version of the Cadenza in its home market.
Kia got its start in the U.S. as an economy car maker, but has been moving upscale with the Optima midsize sedan and the Sorento crossover. Last year its U.S. sales jumped nearly 15 percent thanks to higher demand for the Optima as well as the compact Rio.
UNDER THE HOOD: The Cadenza’s 3.3-liter, V-6 engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that includes a manual shift mode and paddle shifters on the steering wheel. It produces 293 horsepower and is designed to run on regular unleaded gasoline.
INSIDE: The Cadenza is being offered with features such as an advanced navigation system, a backup camera and warning system, as well as a 550-watt 12-speaker audio system. One package includes full-length panoramic sunroof, a 7-inch LCD instrument cluster and premium leather seats.
OUTSIDE: The front of the Cadenza features what Kia describes as an aggressive "Tiger Nose" that echoes the look of some other Kia vehicles. With a long hood and a swept-back windshield, it aims for a smooth look.
PRICE: Will be announced closer to when it goes on sale, expected in the second quarter of 2013.
CHEERS: Kia has seen success by adding higher-end touches to its vehicles, and the Cadenza could attract buyers if its price comes as a significant discount versus other higher-end automakers.
JEERS: While the Cadenza aims for the premium market, it faces tough competition. Hyundai has made the jump to premium and beyond, for example, but it’s unclear if Kia will find the right fit with the car.
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(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)