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


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’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 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


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


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.

Kia Carnival Ltd 2008 Review

May 15th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Carnival Ltd fq

Being the leader of a samba band (AKSamba), driving a car called a Carnival is very coincidental. In fact, the Carnival is so large I could take along seven more of the 50 band members to a gig, and fit some instruments in the back. Or some dancing girls in feathers and bikinis

When you’re loaded down with drums and dancing girls the electrically opening side doors and tailgate are a real help. I thought these would be a useless gimmick, but I used them a lot and not just times that included impressing friends. While walking back to the car I used the remote to open whichever door I needed and it’s ready for me to put things in by the time I arrived to the car. Then I pressed another button and the door closed while I got in the car, put the seat belt on and started it up. I never thought I’d relish laziness so much.

I also never thought I’d say this about a Kia, but the 3.8-litre V6 engine sounds fantastic and has 182kW and 343Nm – plenty of power to pull even the most amply built musicians. This is transferred to the front wheels via a five-speed automatic gearbox with sequential sports shift. Kia quotes 12.8l/100km fuel economy for the combined cycle and 302g CO2/km.

The driving position is commanding. An eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat offers a comfy position, but not much lateral support. All eight seats get leather and are bathed in sound from an eight-speaker Infinity sound system connected to the six-stacker CD/MP3/radio unit. This, along with cruise control, can be controlled from the steering wheel.

Above the rear view mirror is a trip computer which features a compass, average fuel economy, and kilometres before you need to fill it up again. Above that is a fold down mirror that allows you to keep an eye on everyone in the back, and the buttons for the electric doors, tailgate and sunroof. Even the rear quarter-lights are electric, controlled via switches on the armrest.

The Carnival’s exterior styling is a tad bland compared to some other MPVs (e.g. Citroen’s Picasso - read the review here), but the engine’s responsiveness and power more than makes up for that. Its shape reminds me of the first Renault Espace that defined the MPV segment back in 1984.

It served us very well in our three-day test, picking up new team member Ben from the airport in rush hour, delivering a Classic Car subscription prize (a huge roll of garage flooring) to Whangaparaoa, and driving around town gathering trophies, lecterns and other bits and bobs for this weekend’s NZ Drift Series at Manfeild.

The Carnival fits a mammoth 912 litres of storage, and that’s because it’s a large car. At 5.13m long and almost 2m wide check your garage first! The seating configuration is versatile with the third row being able to be folded into a rear cavity to create a flat floor, and the second row can be removed completely forming a space of almost van-like proportions.

Stopping all two tonnes of the Carnival is accomplished with hydraulic vacuum power-assisted ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESP). Ventilated disks at the front and solid discs at the back do their best and the Carnival Ltd’s 235/60R17 tyres (on 17-inch mags) seem to haul the Kia up fairly smartly. These tyres can’t cope with quick changes of direction, though, the main gripe of the Carnival being early understeer (mental note: drive slower around corners).

Lots of thought has gone into making the Carnival very family-friendly. The electronic doors are a real asset to those enduring a large tribe of kids, and short people who may struggle to reach the Carnival’s tall tailgate. The tri-zone climate control is helpful for carsick children who tend to want a very specific temperature in the back. The vents come from the roof and under the seat and can be varied altered using the roof mounted control behind the passenger seat. Pop-up trays in the rear and independent reclining/sliding second-row seats add to the versatility. There’s even a fold-up expandable table in between the driver and passenger with a further four cup holders. That makes 15 cup/bottle holders in total (I think — I counted three times). And that’s not all the internal storage as there are large bins and a glovebox in the front.

If I had five kids and a dog (no, that’s not my name for a ‘significant other’), I would definitely be looking at the Carnival as a comfortable and convenient way of transporting them to and from the various activities that kids do these days. Including band practice in their feathers and bikinis.

Click through to the next page for full specifications on the Kia Carnival.

Price: from $49,950 (EX is $43,550)

What we like

  • Access via sliding electric doors
  • V6 power
  • Comfort
  • Features
  • Space
  • Warranty — 5 years, 100,000km

What we don’t like

  • Understeer
  • Looks bland compared to, e.g. Citroen Picasso
  • No external audio connection (e.g. iPod)

Engine 3.8-litre V6

Displacement (cc) 3778

Maximum power 182 kW / 6000 rpm

Maximum torque 343 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission 5-speed automatic with sequential sports shift


Front MacPherson strut with coil springs and anti-roll bar

Rear Multi link with coil spring


Power rack & pinion


Front Ventilated disc

Rear Solid disc

Braking system Hydraulic vacuum power-assisted ABS brakes with EBD and ESP


Electronic stability program

Keyless entry with burglar alarm

Dual front and side curtain airbags

Driver and passenger seatbelt pretensioner and load limiter

Front seat belt height adjuster

Back-up warning system

Electronic folding heated outside mirrors

ISO fix child seat anchors

Energy absorbing steering column

Electronic door over-ride systems (3)


8 passenger seating

Removable second row seats, and sinking type third row seats

Front and rear height adjustable with front tilt adjustable head rests

Leather seats, steering wheel and gear shift trim

Metal insert film on centre fascia, door switch panel, and sliding door waistline

Power driver’s seat (8 way)

Overhead console including map lamps and conversation mirror

Electronic sunroof


Alloy wheels (space saver spare) 235/60 R17

Roof rack (without crossbar)

High mounted stop lamp

Front fog lamps

Rear wiper and washer with intermittent function

Front variable intermittent front wipers with time adjuster and rain sensor

Glass type antenna


Dual power sliding side doors

Power tailgate

Radio + cassette + 6 stacker CD + MP3 + 8 Infinity speakers

Audio remote control on steering wheel

Engine immobiliser

Power steering

Electric chromatic rear view mirror

Trip computer with compass

Cruise control

Tilt adjustable steering column

Front and sliding door power windows with driver’s side auto up down

Power quarter glass

Tri-zone air conditioning

Electric rear window defroster with timer

Front passenger folding table

Front and rear seat back tables

Front row height adjustable arm rest

Front and rear power outlets

Front and rear room lamps, cargo room lamps and courtesy step lamps

Driver & passenger sun visors with illuminated vanity mirror

High visibility instrument cluster


Overall length (mm) 5,130

Overall width (mm) 1,985

Overall height (mm) 1,830

Wheelbase (mm) 3,020

Minimum ground clearance (mm) 167

Kerb weight min. / max. (kg) 2,009 / 2,141

Minimum turning radius (m) 12.1

Fuel tank capacity (litres) 80

Cargo area (litres) 912

Gross vehicle weight 2,780

Words and photos Darren Cottingham