Kia continues quest to build world’s most efficient vehicles

November 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia is continuing its quest to become the producer of the world’s most fuel-efficient and greenest vehicles. New developments will see the Korean carmaker introduce an all-electric city car, along with a range of other technologies to make its cars go further on various fuel sources.

Full technical details on Kia’s new EV haven’t been revealed, but the new model will enter the light CUV segment and is expected to use an advanced LiPoly battery to power an electric motor. Officials says it will be able to travel a 160 kilometres on a single charge and deliver a maximum speed of 130km/h.

The Korean carmaker initially plans to produce 2,000 of its small EV cars in 2012 for use in its domestic market. Automotive commentators say the Kia Naimo concept (pictured), revealed at the Seoul Motor Show earlier this year, could offer a hint for the new EV’s styling. Kia has also confirmed it will introduce a second EV in 2014 in the form of a Soul-sized small car.

In addition to hybrids and all-electric vehicles, Kia Motors has been introducing other fuel-saving technology under its green Eco-Dynamics brand.

New Zealand has already seen elements of this technology in the recently launched Kia Picanto mini car, which features fuel-saving technology called Idle Stop & Go (ISG), which stops the engine when the car is idling at traffic lights and automatically re-starts when the clutch is depressed. Combined with its small 1.25-litre engine, the Picanto ISG is currently New Zealand’s most economical petrol dedicated car with a 4.3L/100km combined economy rating. Continue reading “Kia continues quest to build world’s most efficient vehicles” »

Kia sizes up record sales year in 2011

October 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia is on target to achieve a year of record sales both in New Zealand and globally as it continues to ship more vehicles to customers around the world.

With Kia sales increasing in growth markets like China (40.9% up in August) and the United States (up 37% in September), Kia Motors is on course to push past the 2 million vehicles sold in all markets in 2010. Global sales were already ahead by 13.8% at the end of August, reaching in excess of 1.6 million units. At the beginning of the year Kia said it hoped to achieve a 12% increase by the end of 2011 and it’s now clear that target will be reached, barring a major sales slump.

Whilst year-to-date sales of Kia vehicles here in New Zealand to the end September are 15% ahead of the same nine-month period last year, they could have been higher if the local company had been allocated more cars and light commercials.

“There is no doubt that our sales have been hampered by a shortage of key models, particularly during the beginning and middle part of the year, but supply issues are now starting to ease and we are hoping to end 2011 with a hiss and a roar and we’re looking forward to an even better 2012,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand. Continue reading “Kia sizes up record sales year in 2011” »

Kia sets new world record for Hybrid vehicle economy

September 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has broken the world record for the lowest fuel consumption in a hybrid petrol vehicle, while driving through 48 adjoining states in the USA.

After a 14-day journey that started at the company’s manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia and finished in Greenville, South Carolina, the Kia Optima Hybrid achieved a fuel consumption of 3.64L/100km, beating the car’s official EPA highway fuel consumption figure by 61.37%.

The car was completely standard and to comply with Guinness World Record guidelines, the Optima Hybrid had to carry two people (drivers Wayne Gerdes and Chris Berniues) and their luggage throughout the journey.

The pair drove an average of 902 kilometres per day and the Optima Hybrid used just over 5.5 tanks of petrol to complete the route, recording an average distance of 2268.8 kilometres between re-fills.

Their lengthy journey took in every adjoining state in the country, followed in a clockwise direction, through all kinds of terrain and weather, from temperatures exceeding 47.7°C in the deserts of Arizona down to sub zero in the Rocky Mountains. And it wasn’t just highway driving the Optima also faced rush-hour traffic jams in Chicago, New York and Las Vegas. Continue reading “Kia sets new world record for Hybrid vehicle economy” »

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 unveils V6-powered GT Concept Car

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has officially unveiled its rear-wheel-drive concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s a striking machine with some styling cues taken from the muscle car era of the 1960s and 1970s.

The Kia GT is another example of the Korean brand’s new design-led direction and hints at its next generation of cars. The our-door sports sedan draws inspiration from the Kia Kee concept car, first shown at the same event in 2007.

“At the onset of this project,” says Gregory Guillaume, Kia’s European Design Chief, “the design team was inspired by the spirit of iconic 1970s GT cars: sumptuous and elegant vehicles capable of whisking passengers from Paris to the South of France in effortless style and at high speed.  We wanted to create something similarly graceful, athletic and confident, but not aggressive or overbearing.”

The 4.690 mm long and 1.890 mm wide concept car has a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and is given different proportions compared to a front-wheel drive car. Continue reading “Kia unveils V6-powered GT Concept Car” »

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 Hamsters return to promote facelifted Soul (+video)

August 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has brought back its body bopping hamsters to push its cosmetically refreshed and mechanically upgraded 2012 Kia Soul which goes on sale in the States this month.

This time around the hip hop inspired hamsters find themselves in a dark, futuristic videogame world where the rodents turn the battle between alien robots and humanoids into a dancing frenzy. The soundtrack is provided by electro-pop group LMFAO’s hit, “Party Rock Anthem”.

“The success and popularity of the Soul continues to grow and attract new customers to the Kia brand, and with music playing an important role in our marketing efforts it is the perfect time for the hamsters to return for a third installment featuring the infectious sounds of LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ to highlight the 2012 Soul’s new attributes,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, KMA. Continue reading “Kia Hamsters return to promote facelifted Soul (+video)” »

Kia pushes ahead with RWD sports sedan concept

August 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There has been rumours floating around for a long time about a mysterious Kia rear-wheel drive sports sedan. Back in July things heated up with reports that this concept may debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Now it’s clear that not only is there a Kia sports sedan concept, but it looks suitably staunch as well. Kia’s latest concept has been announced for a Frankfurt debut and the fist images of the four-door coupe have been released.

The swooping design borrows heavily from the Optima sedan with a high belt line and lengthy chrome strip. The fastback design features four seats in a 2+2 configuration.

“I believe the car is a strong statement from Kia: We are ready to fast forward to an all-new chapter,” says the automaker’s design chief, Peter Schreyer. Continue reading “Kia pushes ahead with RWD sports sedan concept” »