Kia Amanti – 2007 Preview: This is a car without a home. Too luxurious to be another midsize mainstream sedan, too low-brow to be called a premium, the Amanti wanders the corridors of automobilia, searching for a segment so that car buyers will see what it offers, pay attention and take a test drive. And while that may not have been enough to sway a shopper driving the 2006 model, this latest model offers significant improvements throughout the vehicle that may make it more than a match for the likes of the Chrysler 300 or Nissan Maxima. Combined with the Hyundai Azera, it looks like the pseudo-luxury segment is getting itself some new and very serious players.
This just may be the kind of sedan that becomes a best-kept secret. An almost-complete refresh answers many of the critical questions about the Amanti, including power (now with 264 horsepower), interior refinement (wood grain, chrome and new seating materials) and style (updated sheetmetal). Add to that a five-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and excellent safety scores, and what you've got is a sedan not a lot of people pay attention to – even though they really ought to.
Discerning car shoppers virtually always demand a level of performance that's a cut above the mainstream. That's why Kia upped the muscle of its Amanti, with a new 3.8-liter V6 engine that delivers 264 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. According to Kia, that's a 32-percent increase in power over the 2006 model. The new engine is coupled with a five-speed automatic Sportmatic transmission and sits in a car that's 251 lbs. lighter than the previous model and rides on a comfort-modified suspension. Additional improvements include 17-inch wheels available in chrome paint and a long litany of safety features, including eight airbags.
Kia adds considerable changes inside the Amanti. According to the automaker, there's now approximately 106 cubic feet of passenger space, as well as 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room. The Amanti also sports standard wood trim and chrome, a leather-covered armrest and refined materials throughout the cabin. Additional standard equipment includes a CD and cassette stereo system with six speakers, dual-zone automotive temperature control, one-touch up-and-down power windows, power door locks with keyless remote, heated mirrors, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat and a four-way power front passenger seat. In addition, the Amanti features a power sunroof with sliding sunshade and variable intermittent front wipers, as well as available power adjustable pedals.
Kia folks are proud of the Amanti, their flagship model, and boast about its unique design, crash test safety scores and long list of improvements. They make a point of showing how the Amanti won the 2005 J.D. Power and Associates APEAL Award in the mid-size sedan segment, but what they're most proud of are those improvements. Lighter, more powerful and more luxurious, Kia feels that the Amanti adds a refined driving experience to its already strong value proposition.
With the Hyundai Azera garnering most of the attention, Kia's Amanti may just be the most sensible premium sleeper sedan on the market thanks to significant improvements such as a lighter chassis, more robust powertrain, enhanced sheetmetal and upgraded interior. Indeed, the Amanti looks like it's growing up into a smart buy for shoppers who want something a bit more than what a mainstream sedan offers.
Photos courtesy of Ron Perry, Kia Motors of North America