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Khatir Soltani

2004 Kia Amanti - A Bold Move Upmarket

Stylish round quad headlamps, a bold chrome eggcrate grille, sumptuous leather seats, resplendent woodgrain trim, decadent creature comforts, what car company comes to mind? Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar? No, Kia of course.

The Kia Opirus, shown here, offers European customers a slightly modified grille and some different features. (Photo: Kia)

In an aggressive move upmarket Korea's perky little car company is following directly in the tire treads of its larger parent Hyundai. But the tires aren't the only borrowed components. Kia's 2004 Amanti, dubbed Opirus in other markets, rides on Hyundai XG350 architecture, which is no bad thing. Hyundai has refined its flagship sedan into what many consider a direct threat to Japanese entry luxury models such as the Toyota Avalon and Mitsubishi Diamante. Will Kia's new top-tier 4-door do likewise?

There's no reason why not. It's an imposing design up close and personal, as experienced first hand at the New York Auto Show last month. While not unfriendly, the Amanti will trick many an unwitting onlooker into the belief you've arrived financially. Its sheer dimensions, on the larger side of midsize, traditionally upright stance and aforementioned luxury appointments will cause many to raise a passing eye.

Kia Amanti being shown to the media at the New York Auto Show (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Similarly to the XG350 Kia has chosen not to compliment the new model's grille with its red oval badge, preferring to leave its admirers guessing. This has its advantages and disadvantages mind you. For those in the know they can show off their presumed wealth with none the wiser, but it makes getting the word out to the non-initiated an uphill battle.

Khatir Soltani
Khatir Soltani
Automotive expert
  • Over 6 years experience as a car reviewer
  • Over 50 test drives in the last year
  • Involved in discussions with virtually every auto manufacturer in Canada