Kia next to raise NZ car prices

October 31st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Picanto

Kia Motors is the next car company to raise prices with an announcement this week. Kia stated that the dramatic fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar will mean the price of its new cars will have to rise.

Todd Mcdonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand says prices will increase in the first week of November and will probably be introduced in small increments, as vehicle shipments progressively arrive from Korea. He says rises will vary from model to model and will be between 4% and 11%.

But the good news is that some Kia models will remain at current prices for a few more weeks, until present stocks are exhausted. Most of these are likely to be sold before Christmas.

Kia may bring ISG stop-start technology to NZ

October 22nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia cee'd ISG rq

Kia will be among the first to offer fuel saving automatic stop-start technology on a mass-market car when it introduces the new ISG system in the New Year on the European-made cee’d model.

And we may see the system on Kia vehicles coming to New Zealand in the future.

ISG stands for Idle, Stop & Go and is a system designed to sense when the car is sitting idle at traffic lights or in a queue, switching off the engine to conserve fuel. When the clutch is depressed ISG instantly re-starts the engine without any other input from the driver and the car resumes driving as normal.

Kia says the ISG system is likely to make fuel economy savings of around 15%, as well as cutting exhaust emissions.

It will be fitted to the 1.6-litre petrol-powered cee’d manual sold in Europe from the beginning of February next year. Kia says ISG will appear on other models in the future.

No word yet on when the ISG system could be fitted to vehicles aimed at the New Zealand market, although Kia Motors NZ is in discussions with its parent about bringing the cee’d to this country.

“We would be keen to see the ISG technology on Kia models for our market, even if the cee’d doesn’t eventuate — it’s an excellent idea and with the amount of stop-start driving that many city car owners have to endure I am sure it will be a winner when it does arrive,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors NZ.

Kia first showcased the ISG technology on a petrol/electric hybrid concept vehicle last year but decided the system was outstanding enough on its own to introduce to an existing mainstream model.

The innovative ISG system was displayed on the Kia cee’d at the recent Paris Motor Show, alongside Kia’s other eco-friendly developments — a petrol/electric hybrid Kia Soul city car and a zero emission, fuel-cell powered Kia Sportage.

The ISG system incorporates a ‘smart’ starter motor linked to the ECU, which monitors the vehicle’s status at all times. When the car comes to a halt, the ECU uses information from various other control systems around the vehicle to decide if switching off the engine is appropriate — such a calculation is made in milli-seconds. If, for any reason, the car’s battery levels drops below 75% of maximum, or there is insufficient energy available for the next start-up, the system will abort the Stop & Go programme.

The engine automatically re-starts when the clutch is depressed and there is no delay in setting off, because it happens in less time than it takes to select first gear.

Kia Soul on way to NZ

October 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Soul fq

European car manufacturers took some notice on their home turf when the Kia Soul made its world debut at the Paris Motor Show recently. The new Soul had its turn on centre stage with some new styling and appeal, attracting bigger crowds at its unveiling than some more expensive competitors.

Described as a new kind of “urban crossover” by Peter Schreyer, Frankfurt-based Chief Design Officer for Kia Motors, the Soul is a five-seat, five-door car that will go on sale worldwide in early 2009, including New Zealand.

“There’s anticipation building for the arrival of the Soul, it is really going to bring some pizzazz into the marketplace,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager for Kia Motors New Zealand, who was at the Paris show to see the newcomer first hand.

“The reaction to the Soul has been phenomenal and Kia Motors has told us that customers are lining up around the world — there’s already a three-month waiting list in its home market in Korea. We are currently in discussions with the factory on the timing of its introduction to New Zealand next year.”

The Soul has been touted as a breakthrough model for Kia on its journey to become a design-led company making distinctive vehicles that people want to own. It has retained many of the design features of the original 2006 concept car, including the wrap-around glass — mimicking sports sunglasses – muscular wheel arches, space-age headlights and a slope-back roofline. It also features the new corporate front end styling by Peter Schreyer that will become a signature of all Kia cars in the future.

Special customised packages will enable owners to personalize their Soul with equipment and interiors to match their tastes and lifestyles. Among the packages will be ‘Soul Burner’ with a red-black interior. The hi-fi, mp3 compatible audio system also comes with lighting effects that can be programmed to change — for example, the Club option dims and brighten the audio lights in time with the music. In addition to the large luggage area, there are 14 storage zones designed into the cabin, including a special area for mobile phones, as well as numerous drink holders.

Kia has given the Soul ESP stability control and six airbags as standard. Power options include a choice of new generation, low emission 1.6-litre common rail diesel and 1.6-litre or 2-litre petrol engines, matched to either a sequential shift automatic transmission or 5-speed manual gearbox.

New Kia Sportage goes on sale

September 25th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Kia is injecting more competition into the crossover market with the release of a new entry-level 2.0-litre petrol Sportage that has just gone on sale in New Zealand for $30,990.

The Kia Sportage 2.0 Urban comes with an automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive only, aimed at city drivers who want a roomy wagon, but don’t require the extra traction of a 4×4.

“We’ve called it the Urban, because that is where this particular Sportage is destined to spend its life, on city or town roads and the highway,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager for Kia Motors New Zealand. “The Urban has been introduced in response to demand from people who require space, functionality and ease of access, but don’t need off-road capability. “Typically, these buyers are young urban-dwelling families, business people and also older buyers looking for a wagon that has the benefits of an SUV — higher seating position, a practical interior at an affordable price.”

The Sportage Urban includes features such as climate air conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear knob, burglar alarm, trip computer and Electronic Stability Control (including ABS brakes and traction control). The package also includes power windows and mirrors, 16″ alloy wheels , a CD stereo system with MP3 compatibility, front and rear fog lights, Tiptronic-style auto transmission and 6 airbags (front, side and curtain).

The Sportage Urban is powered by Kia’s 16-valve DOHC, CVVT, 2.0-litre petrol engine, delivering 104kW of peak power @6000rpm and 184kW of torque @4500rpm, and a combined fuel consumption of 9.2L/100km (compared to 9.9L/100km for the 4×4 Sportage auto).

The new Urban spearheads the introduction of the facelifted Sportage range, with the remainder of these models to be introduced later.

The two diesel Sportage models – a 6-speed manual 4×4 and sportshift auto 4×2 —will land later and have some detailed changes to the common rail diesel engine, such as an upgraded variable geometry turbocharger that lifts the power output 27% to 104Kw @ 4000rpm and boosts torque by 25% to 305Nm @ 1800-to-2500rpm.

Other improvements include an upgraded diesel particulate filter that delivers even clear exhaust emissions.

The four-wheel-drive system on all 4×4 models continues unchanged, efficiently and effectively delivering torque to the rear wheels when the system detects slippage in the front wheels for improved driving on adverse road surfaces. Additionally, both axles can be locked to provide greater traction when conditions become more slippery — ideal for driving snow covered ski field roads.

More Kia Soul images and specs

September 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

kia-soul-production-model-fq

Kia’s new production-ready Soul will be on display at Paris Salon de l’Automobile in October with confirmation that the urban crossover will come to Europe in February 2009. No release date for Australia or New Zealand has been set.

Mainland left-hand drive Europe models will come with a choice 126ps diesel and petrol engines based on the DOHC engines already fitted to the European-built, Kia cee’d — with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, depending on model. Right-hand drive production is due to start in March 2009.

The diesel engine generates 126ps at 4,000rpm and maximum torque of 255Nm at 2,000rpm. The all-aluminium petrol engine also produces 126ps at 6,300rpm and 156Nm of torque at 4,200rpm.

Soul is a five-door hatchback with front-wheel drive, a high roofline and an unusually long wheelbase. The key elements behind Soul’s appearance are its vertical measurements. Overall height is 1,610 mm but the base of the windscreen is 135mm higher than a typical compact car, the hip-points are 120mm higher and the ground clearance is raised by 45mm.

Access to the new Kia Soul’s spacious interior is designed to be easy and the cabin will deliver head, leg and shoulder room that matches or beats many larger vehicles.

Looking ahead to the Paris Show debut, Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer, Kia Motors Europe, commented: “Soul is about surprise and style and the experience of sitting in the Soul is unique. First impressions will make a big impact. Tall doors and high-mounted seats make for easy access and an airy interior, yet the ‘laid-back’ dashboard design, triple dial instrument cluster and thick-rimmed steering wheel create an unusual combination of spaciousness for passengers and cosiness for the driver generating a very special ambience.”

Soul will make its world premiere on the Kia stand (No 520, Hall 5) at the Paris International Motor Show at 16.45 hrs on 2 October 2008.

Soul will be manufactured at Kia’s Gwangju facility in Korea from November 2008. In the USA and several non-European markets a 2-litre, 142ps petrol engine will also be available.

Kia releases new Forte

August 26th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

kia-forte-fq

Kia Motors has unveiled its new Forte compact sedan hoping that the fuel-efficient car will help boost sales amid higher fuel prices.

The new model is the latest entrant to Kia’s 1.6-litre vehicle segment and marks the automaker’s newest model after another 1.6-litre version of Cerato was released in November, 2003.

The Forte, equipped with a gasoline or diesel engine, will compete in Korea with the Avante by Hyundai Motor Co. the SM3 by Renault Samsung Motors Co. and the Lacetti by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co.

The new Kia model generates 124 horsepower, and the company plans to add a 2-litre engine later.

The automaker, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor Co. said it aims to sell 50,000 units domestically and 170,000 units overseas next year. For this year, Kia Motors targets the sale of 30,000 units. Annual sales for the model will rise to 250,000 annually from 2010, it said.

Kia Motors revamped its lineup to boost sales by redesigning its minicar Morning, mid-sized sedan Lotze and new Mohave sport-utility vehicle. It also plans to add a small crossover vehicle, known as Soul, later this year.

Kia Motors last month raised its domestic sales target to 364,000 units this year from 327,000, fueled by strong sales of its Morning mini-car.

Kia Sorento Sports comes to New Zealand

July 7th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

kia-sorento-sports-fq

A limited edition Sports model has been added to the Kia Sorento range in New Zealand.

The new Kia Sorento Sports will be available only for a short time and Kia Motors is expecting them to be snapped up quickly once buyers eye the package.

The Sorento is already among the best equipped 4×4 vehicles in its class and the new Sports model is bristling with additional features that include:

* Body-coloured running boards that add to the sleek styling and also provide a step into and out of the vehicle
* Larger 18″ alloy wheels fitted with high performance tyres
* Tinted windows to reduce summer heat
* Chrome door mirror caps
* Upgraded audio system featuring 6 CD stacker
* Tow bar system with detachable towball
* Unique Sports badging.

Price for the new Sorento Sports is $57,450 — very attractive considering the additional equipment.

All Sorento models are powered by the frugal 2.5-litre DOHC turbocharged Common Rail Diesel engine that delivers 125kW of power and 392Nm of torque. Also standard is the 5-speed automatic transmission equipped with sport shift.

Other equipment in the Sorento Sports includes dual zone climate control, full leather upholstery interior, heated front seats, power driver’s seat, leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, reversing sensors, electronic stability control with ABS anti-lock braking, front and side airbags, selectable 4WD with high and low range, front and rear fog lamps, rear spoiler etc.

The Sorento makes an ideal towing vehicle with its strong, separate ladder chassis providing it with the capacity to easily and safely pull 2.8 tonnes.

Sorento continues to receive critical praise from both the motoring media and the car-buying public. Recently it was the top rated mid-size SUV with customers, according to US vehicle research company AutoPacific Inc, which surveyed more than 34,000 owners. Sorento was also picked by respected US publication The Car Book as a “Best Bet” in the mid-size SUV category.

Kia KOUP concept to be manifested into reality

July 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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The Kia Koup concept that graced the New York auto show last year looks set to make production according to Lee Hyun-Soon, president of Hyundai-Kia Motors’ R&D division.

The Koup, or whatever it will be called, will be the replacement for the aging Spectra and looks set to be available in the U.S by mid-2009 and hopefully in New Zealand around the same time.