Casey Williams | Auto Reviewer
I review many expensive cars, but let’s be clear: I can’t afford them. I love how Mercedes drive and the look of Audis, but putting a car of that class in my driveway would liquidate all I hold dear in my financial future.
But you don’t have to spend BMW money to put a sexy Euro-style sport sedan in your driveway. Kia will be glad to sell you the 2021 K5 GT-Line.
If it looks German, that’s not by accident. Many designers from European automakers have made their way to Korea.
Essentially a next-gen Optima, the K5 borrows its predecessors’ graceful forms while adding an aggressiveness from the more exotic Stinger sport sedan. You can see it in the wide, angry grille, chiseled chin, bright LED headlights and orange zig-zag driving lamps that give the car a sinister glow. Bodysides are stretched over 18-inch wheels while the fastback roofline, subtle spoiler and wide thin tail lamps hint at Porsche. There’s a formality in the rear window line that plays against a flamboyant swath of chrome to convey a style of fun and comfort. No crossover ever looked this good.
The sporty flair continues inside with red seats, flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel, big analog gauges and silver trim. Details could have come from a dream car, but luxuries like heated front seats, heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control and dual panel sunroof are very real. The cockpit layout implies twin wide screens, ala Mercedes-Benz. Devices are easily connected via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth. Charge phones wirelessly in a console slot.
The suite of safety tech would cower much more expensive sleds. Forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, rear cross path detection, blind spot warning and active lane keep assist protect from all angles. Add to that a driver attention alert and rear occupant detection to keep everybody’s attention. Adaptive cruise control with stop/go functionality and lane centering steering provide blissful cruising.
Sporty GT versions of the K5 are available with 290 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engines, but our car came with the base 1.6-liter turbo-four that delivers a more humble 180 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The “GT-Line” means you get the GT’s exterior accoutrement with a base engine. No worries, though, because the smaller engine is plenty peppy, whether slipping through city traffic or keeping pace on open highways. An advantage is frugal fuel economy of 26/34-MPG.
Some may think the suspension is too firm, but I do not. It’s the right balance between crisp handling and the ability to absorb rough city streets or railroad tracks. Nothing squeaks, creaks or rattles as the car elicits only a damped “thump-thump.” It’s about perfect on the highway where it can soak up long miles without fatigue.
Our car’s performance was further enhanced by all-wheel-drive, which improves handling on curvy roads and stands by should winter add a slippy-slip to your morning dippy-dip.
Would I like to own a new Audi, Mercedes, or BMW? Sure, and so would you. But there’s no need to drain your reserves to drive a legit sport sedan when the Kia K5 GT-Line looks and drives like it cost many thousands more. A base price of just $23,590 came to $31,300 with everything included here.
Compare it to the Subaru Legacy, Dodge Charger, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.