Kia today revealed the first official images of its new flagship sedan. To be called K9 in Korea, it will be launched there in the first half of 2012. The K9 is Kia’s first rear-wheel drive sedan. As its name denotes, the big sedan slots in above the K5 (Optima) and K7, or Cadenza in export markets.

“K9 is our first rear-wheel drive large sedan, created without compromise in its design, driving performance and new technologies. K9 sets a whole new level of standards and values in the large sedan segment, and its design will be another Kia demonstration of our brand’s power to surprise the world,” said Soon-Nam Lee, Director of Overseas Marketing Group.

The K9’s design concept is “high-tech luxury sedan” and Kia describes the front end as “imposing and characterful”. The BMW style front grille slats may be a touch heavy for some, but it does lend the car presence. The rear end reminds me of the Hyundai Grandeur. No word on what’s inside, but there’s a “3.8 GDI” badge at the back. The 2012 Hyundai Genesis is powered by a 3.8 GDI V6 with 333 hp and 395 Nm, 350 hp/400 Nm for the Genesis Coupe.

It’s interesting to note that while the popular models at the lower end of the scale such as the Forte and Optima K5 sport sharp styling, the large higher end models like the Cadenza and this K9 have round edges and smooth lines.