Last night's big game ads highlighted two brand new players to the hyper-competitive mid-size luxury sedan market, the Kia K900 and the Maserati Ghibli. This is going to be an interesting showdown in the marketplace. Of course the K900 is aiming more against the established players like the E-class, 5-series and A6, but for the sake of discussion let's look at the two newcomers.
Base price of a K900 is about 60k, while base price of a Ghibli is about 67k. Now 7 grand is nothing to sneeze at and loaded up the Maserati will be around 78k while the Kia maxes out at 66k, so a 12 grand price gap is pretty substantial. But that price differential is really only significant when it comes to purchases, and the reality is most cars in this segment are not purchased, they are leased.
As I have mentioned before, the lease game is a little bit more complex than a straight out purchase. Residual values play a key role in how much a lease payments will be on a specific car. Now residuals and lease offers for each car have not been released yet on the manufacturer websites. However, with some fun internet speculation we can sort of project how these two cars might play out on the lease market.
As of now the residual value on a Kia Cadenza is about 59%, if the K900 retains that same residual percentage than a 66k car will be worth about 39k at the end of a 36 month lease. This is a difference of about 27k if divided by 36 you could be looking at a lease payment of 750/mo.
What if the Maserati, given its brand prestige, retains a slightly higher residual value of say 65%, then the 78k Ghibli would be worth about 50k at the end of 36 months. This is a difference of 28k, divided by 36 you could be looking at a lease payment of 777/mo.
Of course, these are just speculative estimates but given that BMW is offering a lease special on a 550i for about 709/mo and the Hyundai Equus, which is, for all intents and purposes the K900's twin is leasing for 689/mo, I would say we are in the ball-park
So what does this mean? Either Kia is going to have to heavily subsidize those K900 leases, or seriously hope that Maserati's residuals take a big hit. Because I have a hard time believing that folks looking for something different other than ze Germans are going to tell their friends they are leasing a Kia instead of a Maserati. And this comparison is just pitting the two cars against each other in terms of possible payments, we haven't even talked about the "dealership experience."
Do you think the K900 has what it takes to compete with the Maserati and others without significant incentives from Kia or the dealerships?
My name is Tom and I run AutomatchConsulting.com. I am a professional car-buying consultant, which means people pay me to help them select the right car (NO YOU CAN'T HAVE A PRIUS) and negotiate with the dealerships to get them the best price. If you have any other questions or suggestions for future posts about the car-buying process please let me know. You can find some of my other posts on car-buying here.
(Ghibili photo via Wikipedia. K900 photo via CarsForSpeed.com)