Kia Optima EX 2011 Review

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

First there were the days of Kia vehicles being a no-frills low cost alternative to the major Japanese brands, but that didn’t last. Kia then became a genuinely viable option against Japanese competitors albeit at a lower price point. But Kia isn’t content just to stop there and with models like the new Optima it’s making an ambitious play at moving ahead of the pack. However, getting the formula exactly right in medium sedan segment comes with a high degree of difficulty. Medium sedans aren’t increasing in popularity in this country so Kia is hedging its bets with a single model offering; the well equipped EX. Does this Korean cruiser have the mechanical package to back up its striking looks? After a week piloting the 2011 Optima, Car and SUV thinks so – here are the reasons why.

Exterior Design – Dead Set Stunner
The Optima’s dimensions and wheelbase are larger than its predecessor but its styling is much tighter. There’s plenty of Euro influence, from the chrome trim around the window line to the vents on the front wheel guards. The Optima also showcases the best elements of Kia’s current design language lead out by the now distinctive ‘tiger nose’ grille. Bordered with chrome the grille sits above a wrap-around lower intake, recessed fog lamps and LED running lights. A coupe-like roofline and scalloped lower door panels define the Optima’s flanks. Upswept C-pillars and an advanced stance finish off the dynamic bodywork.  Filling the guards are distinctive 18-inch alloys retained from the concept version of the Optima, they will divide opinion but are unique and certainly add extra bling. Continue reading “Kia Optima EX 2011 Review” »

Kia Rio 2012 Review

September 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2012 Kia Rio was launched to NZ’s motoring media at a special event in the South Island last week and Car and SUV was there to sample this latest compact hatch.

The 2012 Rio will go on sale in NZ from the end of October with pricing starting at $22,990 and comes with fresh-faced design and plenty of equipment for the money. The Rio will be released in NZ in a five-door body shape (as tested) with a four-door sedan and three-door sports hatch following next year.

In terms of styling the new Rio has received Kia’s bold corporate face with the ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, raked back headlights and a wide lower air dam.  At the rear, there’s a built in hatch spoiler and a sharp rear windscreen angle giving a dynamic Euro appearance. The Rio has a purposeful, forward-leaning stance and a coupe-inspired roofline that adds to the sporty aesthetic. There’s some eye-catching touches like the door-mounted side mirrors and our tested top spec EX model features 16-inch alloys, privacy glass and LED daytime running lamps. The Rio body shape has grown in size over its predecessor, increasing 20mm in length to 4045mm, in width by 25mm to 1720mm and is 70mm longer in the 2570mm wheelbase. However, it sits 15mm lower in overall height to further the sporty look. Continue reading “Kia Rio 2012 Review” »

Kia Optima goes on sale in NZ at $46,990

March 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new Kia Optima has just gone on sale in New Zealand, is certainly a striking looking sedan.

Chief designer Peter Schreyer had a lot to say about the new model, “With the new Optima, we have created a product that people previously would not have expected from Kia and that’s exactly what we set out to achieve!” said Schreyer of the mid-large sedan.

The distinct lines of the new Optima have been well received overseas and Kia Motors is hoping for a similar reception here in New Zealand.

“It is fair to say that there has been more international comment passed on the new Optima than any other Kia model in the past – all of it highly favourable,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand. “In-line with international trends we are expecting a huge demand for the new Optima which may put pressure on our ability to deliver in New Zealand.”

Under the bonnet the new Optima boasts advanced GDI technology in the new 2.4-litre Theta II engine that delivers the power of a V6 with the economy of a four cylinder.

The new 11.3:1 high compression 2.4-litre Theta II GDI unit introduces gasoline direct injection for the first time under the bonnet of a Kia model, power is increased by 11.6% and torque by 8.2% to 148kW @ 6300rpm and 250Nm @ 4250rpm respectively. Continue reading “Kia Optima goes on sale in NZ at $46,990” »

Kia NZ announces pricing for new Kia Sportage

August 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Pricing details have just been released on the all-new Kia Sportage, which goes on public sale from October 1.

Due to keen interest being shown in the new Sportage, Kia Motors NZ has decided to release pricing now, enabling buyers to plan ahead.

Prices start from just $33,990 + On Road Costs (ORC) for the base-model Sportage 2.0 Urban LX model, which undercuts the pre-GST rise prices of all other CUV/SUV rivals on the market.

“It was always the intention of Kia Motors New Zealand to position the new Sportage competitively in the marketplace and we are delighted to announce that we have been able to follow through with our promise of very sharp pricing,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

“Dealers have reported a phenomenal response to the new Sportage following the media unveiling a few weeks ago, which we are seeing reflected in the orders they have taken to date.

“By announcing pricing now, well ahead of the October 1 launch we are able to provide more surety to customers who are still in the process of making a purchase decision ahead of the predicted GST rises — they can see how competitive the Sportage is compared to the competition.”

Continue reading “Kia NZ announces pricing for new Kia Sportage” »

Kia Rio EX 2010 Review

June 25th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The second-generation of Kia’s mid-size Rio hatchback first reached New Zealand back in 2006 arriving as a capable and modern option for the budget conscious driver. But the Kiwi love affair with the hatchback meant competition was fierce and the plucky Korean compact didn’t stay new for too long. For 2010 the Rio has been given a facelift and a new lease on life, but will this be enough to iron out the wrinkles on this ageing model. Car and SUV spent a week with the reworked Rio to find out more.

As the latest vehicle to be updated in the Kia range the Rio receives the new corporate tiger-nose grille. That’s just the centrepiece of a completely restyled front end that incorporates a more aggressive front bumper with a gaping lower air dam and more pronounced fog lamps. The headlights are also new and use a split two-light design. It’s all very tidy along the sides with body coloured mouldings, door handles, a curved window line and wing mirror mounted indicators. At the rear a new bumper with a black plastic diffuser surrounds a chrome-finished exhaust tip. Completing the clean-cut look are eight-spoke 15-inch alloys and a subtle high-mounted hatch spoiler.

Continue reading “Kia Rio EX 2010 Review” »

Kia Rio EX Sedan 2008 Review

April 19th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Rio EX CVVT fq

With a name like Rio conjuring up the Brazilian carnival you’d expect a car to embody the ground-trembling surdo drums — the heartbeat of samba — punctuated by the shrill whistle of the mestre as he conducts the ensemble. Accompany this with the glitz of the dancing girls in sequined bikinis and colourful feathers as a parade of intoxicating rhythmic energy sweeps down the street lighting up everyone’s faces. No, that’s not it: the Kia Rio is very sedate, and comfortable in ways sequined bikinis definitely are not (so I’m told).

Car manufacturers are free to call their cars whatever they want — I wouldn’t want to drive a Ford Laser if it really was like a laser. Actually, I wouldn’t want to drive a Ford Laser, full stop. Rio also means river in Spanish, and that contains more apt similes — flowing, calming, peaceful.

This Rio cannot (and will not) become a raging torrent, despite what inclemency you rain down upon its accelerator pedal. With a 1.6-litre DOHC CVVT petrol engine producing 82kW mated to a four-speed auto, it gently trickles to 100kph. It is fairly frugal. Kia’s figure for the auto is 7l/100km, though on a typical run we averaged around 8.5l/100km. The manual sips only 6.5l/100km, according to Kia.

A walk around the outside reveals nothing offensive. A small boot lip spoiler balances up the lines at the rear of the car; the rest of the exterior is fairly anonymous. In fact (I’m embarrassed to say), we had a gig at the Wintergarden in Auckland last night. On returning to the car at 11:30pm the key remote wouldn’t work. The key wouldn’t fit into the lock either. Then I noticed: I had returned in the dim light to someone else’s Kia Magentis of the same colour, parked 5 spaces from the Rio, which was obscured by a van. I’m glad I didn’t set off the burglar alarm — like the Rio, the Magentis comes with an alarm as standard, along with an immobiliser

I often joke that my partner only notices if I’ve changed cars if the colour is different, so now she’s got something to fight back with. The really embarrassing thing is, the Magentis didn’t even have the boot spoiler that the Rio does. It was dark, though (that’s my excuse).

On the inside the Kia is pleasant with its faux brushed aluminium fascia detail, and the occasional bit of faux chrome (on the gearstick). Often cars in this bracket come with tacky seating cloth, but not the Kia — it’s a good, tasteful choice. The driver’s seat has a nice, soft fold-down armrest, but the seats themselves seemed hard, especially the seat backs. This could have been because the Kia had only 600km on the clock and they may wear in.

External MP3 players are supported via the stereo, a small, lined tray being supplied to house it. The stereo is lively once the EQ is tuned a bit.

Kia is making a habit of offering cars for the budget conscious that feature excellent safety measures. The Rio comes with ESP as standard on EX automatic and Sports manual models, along with ABS and six airbags (except the base model which only has two). Along with the five-year 100,000km warranty with roadside assist, and fairly good interior appointments for the price (climate control air conditioning, trip computer and electric mirrors) the $24,145 asking price for the EX Sedan Automatic is fair.

If raging torrents of speed are not high on your list of requirements, and you just want a car that you can slip into like a snug-fitting, comfortable but cost effective glove in relative anonymity, the Kia will do you proud. Or was that a Magentis. Someone turn on the lights please.

Price: from $24,145 (base model manual is $20,645).

What we like

  • It’s great value for money
  • Good warranty
  • Inclusion of ESP
  • Rides well

What we don’t like

  • Styling is bland
  • Lethargic
  • Seats seemed hard (could be because it was very new)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham



Engine type: 1.6L DOHC CVVT Petrol

Displacement (cc): 1599 cc

Compression ratio: 10:3

Max. power: 82 kW @ 6000 rpm

Max. torque: 145 Nm @ 4500 rpm

Fuel economy (combined cycle): 7.0L/100km

CO2 emissions (g/km): 162


Gearbox: 4 speed automatic


Front suspension: MacPherson strut

Rear suspension: Torsion Beam


Tyres: 195/55 R15

Braking system: Ventilated front discs, solid rear discs

Alloy wheels: 15″

Full size spare wheel


Steering system: Power assisted rack & pinion

Minimum turning radius kerb to kerb (m): 4.92



ABS brakes with EBD

Electronic stability programme (ESP)

Dual front airbags

Dual side airbags

Curtain airbags

Child safety rear door locks

Keyless entry with burglar alarm

Vehicle immobiliser

Front seatbelt pretensioners/load limiters

High mounted stop lamp


Body coloured electric outside mirrors

Heated rear mirrors

Rear spoiler

Front & rear fog lamps

Front & rear mudguards


Stereo Radio/CD/MP3 sound system

Speakers: 6

Auxiliary audio input (iPod)

Power windows with driver’s auto down

Dual map lamps with sunglasses case

Central locking

Leather steering wheel

Sports pedals

Trip computer

Air conditioning: Climate

60 : 40 split folding seats

Height adjustable headrests (front & rear)

Luggage net

Rear seatbelt pockets


Overall length 3990 mm

Overall width 1695 mm

Overall height 1470 mm

Wheelbase 2500 mm

Min. ground clearance 155 mm

Kerb weight min./max.: 1129/1232 kg

Luggage capacity (seat up / seat folding): 270/1145 litres

Fuel tank capacity: 45 litres

Towing capacity – unbraked (kg): 453

Towing capacity – braked (kg): 800

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