The cars we loved.
Life is full of imitations. We see them with mp3 players, handbags and even movies. Americans aren’t used to seeing blatant Chinese style imitations of cars. Sure everyone wants to be either a BMW or a Honda, but seldom have we ever seen so bold a rif off the designs of others than with Kia’s Amanti. Sure it was a time when Kia was still making a name for itself like it’s Korean parent Hyundai, but the Amanti was a rare example in recognizable copy and paste design.
Called the Opirus in Korea, the full-sized (mid-sized in America) sedan was to be Kia’s first large car. The ideal was to release an affordable luxury car with all the attributes of more expensive European and Japanese makes. Those attributes included design cues that resembled a characterized Mercedes E Class or Jaguar sedan. From some angles the Amanti had stately lines, but its overall proportions betrayed it as a high end luxury car. The problem was that the Amanti was actually a good car. Initially offered with a 3.5 L V6 engine, the Amanti produced 200 hp and had acceptable road manners.
Kia had managed to capture the essence of luxury and bottle it in a car that undercut the nearest Lexus by $10k. For about $26k, buyers got all the expected trimmings of a luxury car including Electronic Stability, Wheel, and Moonroof packages. The interior layout was well designed and derivative of the best practices of Honda and Toyota. The word got out, giving the Amanti a sales boost. The 10 year 10,000 mile powertrain warranty didn’t hurt either. J.D. Power and Associates even ranked the Amanti as “Most Appealing Premium Midsize Car”. Most of the enthusiast car media was not so taken. They had few technical issues to gripe about so the derivative design became the biggest issue. Consumers did not seem
to mind having something that might pass for a Jaguar to the uninitiated observer. Very few changes were made to the Amanti during the course of its life. A larger more powerful 3.8 L V6 engine was added in 2007, pushing thrust up to 264 hp. The Amanti still used premium fuel, but it’s mileage went up slightly to 26 mpg on the highway with an improved 5-speed automatic transmission. Sales spiked early, than strangely leveled off into a steady decline. Maybe due to so few exterior changes. The Amanti was replaced in 2010 by the more originally designed Optima. A totally new, redesigned and decidely more upscale Amanti is said to be on the drawing boards. If the last car was ant indication, Lexus and Acura should be concerned.