If we show up in a business class with an idea for a new company or product, the first thing we’ll be asked is “what is your secret sauce, and what will make you stand out from the competition?” If we decide to confront some well-established rivals, it will be virtually impossible to make it big with a product that similar to our competitors’.
I believe the 173 units of the Kia Cadenza sold in Canada last year speak for themselves.
Elegance is a concept that sticks well to the Kia Cadenza. A little bigger than the Kia Optima, the Cadenza is also more refined, with a less edgy design.
Its cockpit is dressed up with soft-touch materials and good-quality leather, but the Cadenza’s on-board atmosphere isn’t as impressive as the one in the Hyundai Genesis. At the centre of the dashboard is a good-sized screen that serves up satellite-linked navigation, audio and more. The software works well, however the abundance of buttons and touch-sensitive controls requires an adaptation period.
The Cadenza is a luxury oriented car, or “liberated luxury” according to Kia. The comfortable seats, heated and ventilated up front, in addition to the rear-seat space all fit in with the company’s pretentions.
The trunk is practical, which can effortlessly carry a couple of golf bags, as a luxury sedan should.
Under the hood of the Cadenza, one sole engine makes its presence felt. It’s the 3.3-litre V6 that also purrs in the Kia Sorento, developing 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque in this application. It’s managed by a six-speed automatic transmission that includes a manual mode, and is remarkably smooth and powerful. At any speed, this duo’s execution is beyond reproach. However, the manual mode is pretty irrelevant, incapable of offering the driver true control of the gear changes. In short, no use spending too much time fiddling with it.
The main problem of this car resides in its front-wheel drivetrain. The engine’s 255 lb-ft of torque constantly light up the electronic aids, which unconvincingly do their best to avoid interrupting acceleration.
These factors make the Cadenza a comfortable, fairly powerful midsize luxury sedan, but one that has no sporty or dynamic driving attributes.
So, where’s the problem? There isn’t any, because there is a market for this type of automobile. The issue is there already are plenty of cars like this Kia, including the Toyota Avalon and the Chevrolet Impala. The Cadenza offers nothing less, nothing more than these two rivals.
This Kia should’ve offered something more, like a hybrid powertrain or a rear-wheel drivetrain, for example. Instead, it remains an affordable luxury car, like many others.