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New Kia K8 sedan replaces the Cadenza with cool styling and an incredible interior

While the K8 won't come to the US, its styling will influence future Kia models.

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Now that's a nose.

Kia

Kia is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, heralded by a new logo, streamlined alphanumeric model names, a focus on electrification and crazier designs than ever before. The first production model to wear the redesigned emblem and fresh design language is the new K8 sedan, which replaces the Cadenza in the lineup. Sadly, the K8 won't come to the US, but that doesn't mean we can't still ogle over it.

Making its debut Tuesday, the K8 is about an inch longer than the outgoing Cadenza, which was called the K7 in other countries, but no other dimensions were announced. Kia is positioning the K8 both as more of a premium offering and more of a sports sedan than the Cadenza, which is apparently reinforced by the name change.

The K8 continues Kia's streak of striking designs.

Kia

The first thing you notice about the K8 isn't the new Kia logo, but the massive "tiger nose" grille that sits below it. The grille is frameless so it seems like an integrated part of the bumper, and it features an intricate diamond pattern that's echoed by the LED turn signals beneath the headlights. It's extremely distinctive, and not really like any other Kia currently on sale. The new grille also seems like it could easily be translated onto electric cars by closing off some of the diamond elements, which we're sure is by design.

Like the K5, the K8 has a fastback profile but a traditional sedan trunk, with Kia proclaiming that traditional sedans are being reinterpreted as fastback passenger cars. The K8's sides are sleekly surfaced and mostly unadorned, and Kia says the main character line is inspired by "yachts sailing across calm waters." There's a strange finlike trim element in the rear windows, and a chrome strip in the lower doors kicks up to meet a strip in the quarter panel flowing off the taillights.

Get ready to see these taillights on future Kias.

Kia

Our favorite part of the K8 is the rear end, which features a fabulous ducktail-esque spoiler integrated with the trunk lid above a thin, horizontal taillight strip. The LED taillights split off into two spears to form a Y shape and feature jewellike patterns, and there's a pair of rectangular chrome exhaust tips. The angular look is really successful, and you can expect to see similar taillight shapes on Kia's upcoming crossover EV.

Even better than the K8's interesting exterior design is its absolutely spectacular interior. Kia describes it as a "detail-oriented lounge," which seems apt, as it looks extremely high-end and is reminiscent of super-modern furniture and audio equipment. A curved display links together two 12-inch screens, one for the gauge cluster and the other for infotainment, a feature that is likely to spread across the Kia lineup. The climate controls are found on a touch-sensitive panel that can cycle through different modes, but there are physical knobs for the temperature. There's no volume knob, however. The steering wheel is also a new design for Kia, and the gear selector is a rotary knob that seems to be nabbed directly from Genesis.

You can't tell me this doesn't look awesome.

Kia

The screen sits atop a massive piece of wood trim spanning the dashboard that has a diamond pattern etched into it, and curving behind the display and onto the door panels is a metal panel that houses air vents and speakers for the Meridian audio system (a Kia first). More wood is found on the doors and the center console, and there's loads of diamond-stitched Napa leather throughout the interior. In addition to ambient lighting in the door panels, the K8 has what Kia calls Star Cloud lighting, glittery "interactive" lights dotted into the diamond patterns on the dashboard wood and the metal door trim.

No information on powertrains or chassis improvements have been released. The K8 will launch in South Korea and other markets later this year, and the brand is set to trickle out more info before then.

First published on Feb. 16, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. PT.