If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then such auto makers as BMW and Mercedes-Benz should be counting their kudos. After all, exterior cues (such as blatantly M-B style headlamps), overall lines and even some interior features copied from their luxury autos now are appearing in the upscale Amanti from Kia.
Of course there are other car companies that have done things in similar fashion. Just try, for example, to identify a crossover utility vehicle, a pickup truck or another sedan driving down the road. Unless one has auto buff inclinations, it could be downright challenging to identify which is which.
What that means for Kia owners is a lot of good ideas for a more modest price than ponying up for one of the European (or even American) originals.
We'll only whisper that there's a connection between Hyundai with its Azera and Kia's Amanti. Discerning consumers who check out both showrooms undoubtedly will catch the kissing cousin relationship of these two companies and their similarly conceived upscale sedans, even though the end results don't qualify as clones.
Following an applauded launch two years ago, Kia ups the Amanti's power ante some 32 percent with a new 264-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 powerplant (19/26 estimated fuel economy) for 2007. Performance improves with the fully independent suspension and gas pressurized shocks among tweeks added for a smoother, yet more performance oriented ride. Styling changes, including exterior hood, trunk lid, grille, panels and head and taillamps plus dual exhausts, add a bigger car look for this somewhat misnamed midsize, front-drive sedan.
A base $25,495 price can grow considerably with a number of optional packages such as Leather, Premium or Electric Stability that enhances safety from eight standard airbags.
Despite its premium level pretensions, there's no need for a premium fuel penalty. Amanti runs on regular gasoline just fine. And Amanti passes the famous golf club test often applied to vehicles in this category. With a trunk area capable of holding four loaded golf bags, it should suit any foursome ready for the links.