When it introduced its upscale Amanti, four years ago, Kia broke new ground. Never before had a Korean carmaker put forward a $35,000-plus luxury sedan. Conceived and developed over a two-year period at a cost of some $166 million (Cdn), the Amanti debuted part-way through 2004 as a 2005 model, and was brand-new from stem to stern. It was also a key component in Kia’s quest to be a "Top Five" worldwide manufacturer by 2010.
Built on the company’s, Equis platform, which was sold only in Korea, the Amanti had exterior sheet metal described by Kia stylists as "strong and dignified". Influences from Lincoln, Jaguar, and Mercedes were definitely present in the overall design. Although it wasn’t the most adventurously-styled luxury sedan on the market, the new Amanti did have a kind of diplomat-car presence about it, and, if nothing else, was certainly out of the ordinary. And anyway, Kia reasoned, buyers in this market weren’t seeking an outrageously-styled set of wheels; typically, they were looking at other, conservatively visual models like, oh, the Toyota Avalon and Buick Allure…..not exactly cutting edge examples of the stylists’ art. Kia could probably have trimmed a few inches off the top of the front grille to good effect, and if the car’s waistline was lowered a little, it wouldn’t have hurt either, but taste is a personal thing, after all.
Power for the Amanti was smoothly delivered by a 3.5 litre V6 with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder that delivered 200 horsepower at 5500 rpm. This engine was taken from the company’s Sedona mini-van, and was also found in parent company, Hyundai’s XG-350 luxury sedan. In this configuration, it had different camshaft profiles and a re-calibrated manifold that adapted the length of the intake according to engine rpms and load….briefly put, it flowed more air when you put the pedal down. Interestingly, most of the Amanti’s competitors had conventional variable valve timing systems of some sort. Transmission was a five-speed automatic with a Steptronic manual shift option.
The Amanti’s performance was adequate, but it wasn’t designed to set any quarter-mile ET records or break lap times at the local track. Fuel economy was pegged at 14.3 L/100 km in the city, and 8.7 L/100 km on the highway and the Amanti was content with regular grade fuel. Good thing too, as these numbers are a titch on the high side.
Where the Amanti came into its own was during highway cruising. At 100 km/h in fifth gear, the engine ticked over at a leisurely 2100 rpm. Road noise and drivetrain chatter was minimal, comfort level was above average, and - most importantly - you felt like you were behind the wheel of an upscale automobile when you drove the Amanti. Not to be sneezed at in this hard-to-please market.
In terms of suspension, it featured double wishbones and coil springs up front and multi-link/coil springs in the back with stabilizer bars on both ends…..pretty standard fare and well-suited to this 1855-kilogram luxury four-door. Definitely not aimed at corner-carvers or speed merchants, the Amanti didn’t respond well to spirited, high-speed cornering and the suspension was definitely on the spongy side. This was and still is a Granny and Grampa sedan meant to soothe and relax its occupants.
Base price in 2005 was $35,795 and the standard features list seemed to go on ad infinitum. You got dual zone climate control, leather interior, heated front seats, power heated mirrors, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, rear heater control, power windows with express down feature, power sunroof, and all of the modcons you’d expect to find on a luxury car, plus vehicle stability control and traction control systems as well as a brake proportioning assist program. No navigation system or information display screen however, and, in fact, in its first year, the Amanti had no options.
Nor has it fared too well in terms of depreciation. According to the Canadian Black Book, the ‘05 Amanti is worth just under $19,000 these days, and the Red Book has it about $3000 lower than that.
Transport Canada has no recall notices on file, nor does the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, NHTSA has nine technical service bulletins for the ‘05 Amanti, for issues like an inaccurate reading from fuel warning light to empty, front suspension strut irregularities, and fuel system evaporative control contretemps. Consumer Reports gives it above average marks for things like quietness, ergonomics and control placement, ride comfort, and interior elbow room. However, it also gives the Amanti failing marks in handling, braking, fuel economy, and, curiously, overall value.
But no earth-shattering flaws or glitches to report, and, considering its price drop and what you get for the money, the ‘05 Amanti has to be considered as a bit of a used car bargain.
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