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Well hello… Kia K4 debuts at NYIAS to shake up the compact car segment

Sharp styling and a host of standard tech makes the K4 a compelling compact

Published: 27 Mar 2024

Debuting at this year’s New York International Auto Show is the all-new Kia K4, a compact sedan that Kia hopes will shake up the segment with sharp looks and a handy collection of tech tricks.

Right out of the gate, the K4 has a strong look about it that’s sure to make it pop against rivals like the VW Jetta and Mazda 3. Kia’s quick to highlight the fastback roofline and commanding stance, with chunky eye-catching lamps at all four corners.

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In fact, the K4 will be the widest car running in the segment when it hits the streets, which will be encouraging for those hoping the sporty looks are backed by some dynamic capabilities.

Speaking of, the compact four-door (there are indeed four despite how hidden the rear pair seems to be), is powered by a choice of engines. The standard set is a 2.0-liter that generates 147hp and 132lb ft of torque, routing power through what Kia calls an “intelligently variable transmission,” which is a fun rebrand of the maligned CVT.

Those wishing for something with a bit more punch have the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine at their disposal: this engine’s capable of pumping out 190hp and 195 lb ft of torque, all collected through a traditional eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Inside, the K4 hops on the current trend of panoramic displays with a nearly 30-inch screen housing the driver’s gauge cluster and the infotainment touchscreen, something new to the segment. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity comes standard, and there are available NFC-enabled digital key functions that turn a driver’s smartphone into a key fob.

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The K4 will come equipped with Kia Connect, the brand’s connectivity suite that drivers can make use of with voice commands. This function is powered by a generative AI and can chat about local points of interest, sports scores and the weather.

Lastly, the K4 brings peace of mind with an abundance of safety tech so drivers can feel secure while they chat to their car about the weather. The sedan comes with a total of eight airbags which include units protecting the rear passengers from the side. Smart cruise control with stop and go functionality is available as is forward collision avoidance.

The K4 is also fitted with what Kia dubs “evasive steering assist’ that’s meant to help drivers quickly find empty space if it detects an imminent collision with another car or a pedestrian. Cool tech we hope to never use.

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We’re excited to see how this turns out, given that the SUV market has effectively bullied the compact car segment nearly out of relevance here in the States. Here’s hoping that those without the need for a utility vehicle have something worth getting their hopes up for. We’ll hold off judgement until we get a crack at it. Pricing and other details have yet to be announced but we can expect to see the K4 hit dealer showrooms in the latter half of the year.

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