The new Amanti is a lot of car for the money. We have said this about almost every Kia made-and it's true. An Amanti in base trim has more standard features than a base Toyota Avalon and it's roughly $1000 less expensive. Standard equipment is impressive.
Aside from the front airbags, it has side and curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers, making a total of eight airbags. Disc brakes with ABS work through 16-in. alloy wheels shod with Hankook tires. Suspension is independent double A-arm in front with a multilink setup in the rear.
The lone engine available is a 3.5-liter V-6 shared with the Hyundai XG350. It produces 200 bhp at 5500 rpm and 220 lb.-ft. of torque at 3500 rpm. The 5-speed automatic with sport mode shifting is also from the XG350.
The chassis is an evolution of that same Hyundai's platform, but bigger in every way. Overall length of 196.0 in. and width of 72.8 in. place the Amanti in the full-size sedan category. The wheelbase of 110.2 in. is 1.9 in. longer than that of the XG350 and 3.1 in. longer than a Toyota Avalon's. The long wheelbase made for a comfortable test drive along the shores of beautiful Je-Ju Island, near the tip of South Korea.
Initial impressions of the vehicle's performance are that it's not extremely fast or light. Kia estimates the 0-60-mph time to be close to 9 seconds, which is not bad for a car that weighs 4020 lb. Body roll is not excessive, but is considerable. This isn't a sports sedan by any means, but a quiet, comfortable, smooth and well-equipped 4-door.
A lot of attention was given to the important details. All buttons illuminate, including those on the steering wheel. Electric windows are one-touch operation and have anti-pinch sensors. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, and the driver's seat is a powered 8-way model with controls on the door panel la Mercedes. Dual-zone automatic climate control and cruise control are standard equipment. All Amantis feature keyless entry and come with an AM/FM/cassette/CD system. One minor gripe: I would prefer the stereo system mode-selection switch on the steering wheel to be a seek button instead.
There are three option packages: LP ($1805), CP ($900) and ESP ($500). The LP leather package includes leather seats, memory functions, and an Infinity stereo upgrade with a 6-disc in-dash changer. The CP comfort package requires the LP and adds heated seats a sunroof. The ESP package consists of yaw and traction control as well as brake assist. And it also requires the LP and CP packages. It would be nice to have the safety features available on the base car.
In other markets the Amanti is known as the Opirus and includes a plethora of premium features not available in the U.S.: high-intensity-discharge headlights, a navigation system, adjustable rear seats, electro-luminescent gauges and electronically adjustable suspension settings. Kia does not feel that it could sell the Amanti as a $40,000 car and that may be true, but many people would find it surprising that Kia has such technologies available.
Korea-based Kia wants a share of our full-size sedan market and it appears to be well on the way to getting a good portion of it. With its base price of $24,995 and coming with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, the Kia Amanti may soon be a familiar sight in your neighborhood.