2021 Kia K8 shows big grilles aren't just for BMWs

Ronan Glon
·2 min read


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BMW summoned a whirlwind of criticism when it began putting oversized grilles on its cars, but it might have started (or at least fortified) a trend. Kia introduced the K8, a new sedan developed to replace the Cadenza in global markets, and it gave the model the biggest rendition of its well-known Tiger Nose grille we've ever seen.

Kia, like other proponents of the big grille, wants its cars to make a bold statement. Whether you love it or you hate it, you can't ignore the K8's gaping maw, which is accented by strings of diamond-shaped inserts. It's flanked by sharp headlights, and it's connected to a heavily sculpted hood. Viewed from the front, the K8 is even more distinctive-looking than the Cadenza, which moved Kia's design language forward when it made its debut in 2016.

Its profile is characterized by a fastback-like roof line, a character line that stretches from the edge of the fenders to the rear bumper, and a fin-shaped piece of trim near the D-pillar. Out back, Kia gave the K8 y-shaped lights connected by a light bar and an integrated spoiler. Here again, it's a look that certainly will not go unnoticed.

Kia explained that inspiration for the K8 — the first sedan to wear its new logo — came from a variety of sources. For example, its overall presence "takes direct inspiration from some of the world’s most technically advanced yachts," according to Karim Habib, the head of the company's global design center.

We don't know whether the interior is as daring as the exterior, because images of the cabin haven't been released yet. Similarly, what's under the sheetmetal is anyone's guess at this point. The long front overhang and the short dash-to-axle ratio suggests the K8 is built on a front-wheel-drive architecture, however.

K8 production will begin in South Korea later in 2021, and Kia will release additional details about the model in the coming months. It's unclear if the sedan will be sold in the United States at this point. Earlier in 2021, the firm axed the Cadenza and the K900 from our market as part of a range realignment focused on crossovers and SUVs. We've reached out to the company for additional details, and we'll update this story if we learn more.

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