SEOUL — For its second-generation K900 luxury sedan, Kia is banking on a Biermann Effect.
Albert Biermann, former head of BMW's M performance division, was hired in 2015 to inject some German automotive attitude into Hyundai Motor Group.
Kia now hopes the master tuner's influence can bring a badly needed sales spark to the K900.
With its floaty ride and stolid looks, the K900 has been an anomaly for the South Korean brand's youthful, sporty, affordable aura.
But Kia says the redesign that hits U.S. dealerships next month gets some driving-dynamics tweaks courtesy of the German engineering guru who spearheaded the vast improvements in the latest line of Genesis products and the breakthrough Kia Stinger.
That will help the K900 stand out in the luxury market and win more adherents, Kia spokesman James Bell said here at a product briefing and test drive.
"We call it the Biermann Effect," Bell said. "He has translated that DNA into a lot of our cars.
"The current K900 had some issues from a dynamics perspective," Bell said. "We're not going to have any of those problems with this car. There is going to be more than a value story here."
K900 sales in the U.S. through August are down 28 percent from a year earlier to just 230 units.
Among Biermann's first projects was fine-tuning the Stinger and the Genesis G80 and G90.
The K900 draws from them all. Longer and wider than the Stinger and the outgoing K900, the new K900 rides on a new platform derived from the Genesis rear-wheel-drive setup.
And from the Stinger, it takes the powertrain. The U.S. version will get only the Stinger's 3.3-liter, V-6 twin-turbo engine, combined with an all-wheel-drive layout.
In other markets, the K900 will be offered with a 3.8-liter V-6 naturally aspirated engine and a top-end 5.0-liter V-8, the brand's most powerful engine ever.
Biermann helped tweak the suspension to give it better handling and response, Bell said.
"If you put some nice summer tires on it, you can discover some nice driving talent," Biermann said of the K900. "As a driver's car, customers will be satisfied."
Kia also amps up the luxury factor with the redesign.
It starts with a 12.3-inch touch screen, an optional 9.7-inch head-up display and a more spacious cabin. Drivers can also customize the interior ambient lighting to match their mood, from a choice of 64 hues with such names as Dreamy Purple and Orange Delight.
The company also taps the brand power of Swiss luxury watchmaker Maurice Lacroix, which spent more than a year creating an analog clock that is set into the Kia's dashboard.
Well-heeled customers in Korea, where the car went on sale in April, can even splurge on a matching pair of K900 special edition Maurice Lacroix timepieces for their wrists.
The basic watch costs about $3,550. The premium model — complete with visible gears — will set its owner back $10,660.
Each is inscribed on the back with the letters "RJ," the K900's r&d code name.