Kia Cerato Hatchback LX 2011 Review

April 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Cerato is proving to be the slow burner of the Kia range with another variant now on offer – a hatchback. The four-door hatch will join the sedan and Koup in the Cerato range. But there’s more to this story than just whacking a different body shape on to Kia’s well serving Cerato platform. Kia’s new hatchback represents its full-scale entry into the most popular and hardest fought market category in NZ. Facing down more established rivals like the Mazda3, Ford Focus and VW Golf is no easy task, so how can the Cerato hatch expect to hold its own? By implementing the same strengths that run throughout the entire Kia range, distinctive design, high equipment levels and aggressive pricing. Car and SUV spent some seat time in the new Cerato hatch LX to see if its got what it takes.

In the past few years Kia has become intensely design-focused with very good results and the Cerato hatch doesn’t let the side down. While it uses the same wheelbase as the sedan, the hatch body is 190mm shorter due to less rear overhang.

At the front the two variants look almost identical both using a chrome-ringed Kia corporate grille and recessed fog lamps in a wide lower air dam. From the A-pillar back the hatch is its own car and has been styled with a modern, sporty focus. Broad shoulders, an upswept window line and bulky bumpers give the Cerato hatch a wide, athletic look and genuine road presence. At the rear the angles sharpen, and there’s attractive features like large two-piece taillights, a hatch spoiler and a black plastic diffuser. Continue reading “Kia Cerato Hatchback LX 2011 Review” »

Kia Rio sedan ready for New York debut

April 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia is gearing up to unveil its 2012 Rio sedan at the 2011 New York Auto Show. The booted Rio will sit in the Kia range beside its hatchback sibling (pictured) that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.

Four powertrains will be available on the Rio in some markets with two gas and two diesel mills in the works. A likely high volume seller is a 1.4-litre gasoline four-cylinder unit, this mill produces 80kW of power and 135Nm of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

Check back for more info on the new Kia Rio and the upcoming New York Auto Show. Continue reading “Kia Rio sedan ready for New York debut” »

Kia Naimo electric concept car dazzles Seoul show

April 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has just unveiled its new Naimo electric car concept at the 2011 Seoul Motor Show.

The name Naimo is the Korean word for “square shape,” and the new Kia EV concept is certainly a boxy design. The funky aesthetic also features no B-pillars and rear hinged doors that open up in a clamshell style. The concept also features huge 20-inch wheels which further the square theme and come wrapped in 20-inch rubber. Apparently the design is influenced by Asian Celadon-style pottery with asymmetrical shapes that reflect in the roof design and dotted LED front lights.

The hectic exterior design is contrasted with a more peaceful cabin for the concept. Korean oak covers the concept’s floor and door panels. A transparent organic LED display instrument panel and full connectivity gives the Naimo an advanced feel.

Powering the Naimo is a PMSM. What the hell is that? It’s a permanent magnet synchronous motor of course, and it provides a maximum output of 80 kW and 280Nm of torque. The juice comes from a 27 kWh lithium ion polymer twin battery pack, giving the EV a range of 200kms on a full charge. Kia claims that a special quick charge system enables the driver to charge the battery to 80 percent capacity in just 25 minutes. Strangely, a full charge takes five and a half hours. Continue reading “Kia Naimo electric concept car dazzles Seoul show” »

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 preparing to build Rio hot hatch

March 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Who doesn’t like hot hatches? Not many people, especially not in Europe where cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST/RS are hot property and the hot hatch segment is still growing.

Not surprisingly, Kia, who has recently shaken things up in many other areas of the car market, is now reportedly considering launching its own hot hatch. Kia’s entry into this performance arena will be based on the recently revealed 2012 Kia Rio.

According to recent reports, Kia’s marketing and product planning chief, Benny Oeyen, said a sportier version of the new Rio could help boost Kia’s image, especially in the UK where hot hatches are most popular. Other variants Oeyen hinted at during the interview included a convertible and coupe.

It’s no secret that Kia plans to launch a sporty three-door version of its new Rio, as well as the already revealed five-door hatch and a sedan. The car Kia took to the 2011 Geneva Motor Show was also fitted with large alloy wheels, hinting at some performance potential and hot hatch styling.

The first examples of this latest Rio are expected to be powered by a 1.6-litre direct injection gasoline engine producing 102 kW, but it’s likely a more powerful version with a 1.8 or even a 2.0-litre unit could prepare the Rio to take on more established hot hatch competitors. Continue reading “Kia preparing to build Rio hot hatch” »

Kia Sportage LTD 2011 Review

March 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

In just a few years Kia has gone from making up the numbers to becoming a true force in global car manufacture. At first it was all about changing brand perception, but that alone was never going to be enough. Now the Korean carmaker is setting about proving itself to be able to make good quality, well-equipped and aesthetically desirable vehicles in almost every market segment. One of the latest models to receive this full force treatment is Kia’s Sportage small SUV. Already a popular model on NZ roads the new look Sportage is ready to build on its predecessor’s reputation for practicality and durability at a bargain price. But take one look at the next-gen Sportage and it’s clear that this is one compact SUV that won’t be content with just being practical and durable, now it wants to be the best. Car and SUV booked some time with the new Sportage LTD to see how it measures up.

Before opening its doors or starting the engine, it’s hard not to take a moment and admire the Sportage for its absolutely striking styling. Its compact proportions are hidden behind a muscular, sporty look and athletic stance. A staunch character is created by expansive amounts of sheetmetal, a minimal glasshouse and raked-back front windscreen. Unique front and rear lights give the Sportage a futuristic concept car charm and a low roof line with forward-sloping C-pillars distance it from traditional boxy SUV shapes. Hints of off-road ability come from a raised ride height and tough black plastic capping the Sportage’s underside. Our top spec Ltd tested model came with visual extras like chrome trim around the window line and grille, silver integrated roof rails, LED daytime running lights and 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels. Continue reading “Kia Sportage LTD 2011 Review” »

2012 Kia Rio looking good before Geneva debut

February 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has just revealed the first photos of its new 2012 Rio before the hatchback officially debuts at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The Korean carmaker has become style focused in recent years and the Rio is one of the last models in the range to fully benefit. Design director Peter Schreyer has made sure the new Rio is a modern and aggressive looking hatch with sharp angles and Kia’s tiger nose front grille. It’s a sharp looker and will be on the radar for many show goers in Geneva.

Under the bonnet, the Rio will be offered with a range of gasoline and diesel powertrains in global markets, including an eco-friendly 1.1-litre diesel that only generates 85 g/km of CO2. But the engine that is receiving the most attention is Kia’s new 1.2-litre turbocharged direct-injected engine which comes with great anticipation for European markets.

The Rio is scheduled to go on sale in the UK from this September, with a three-door variant expected to launch in early 2012. We don’t have any official word as to when we’ll see the new Rio here in NZ yet. Continue reading “2012 Kia Rio looking good before Geneva debut” »

Kia Sportage wins International SUV of the Year title

January 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new Kia Sportage has been awarded the International Truck (SUV) of the Year 2011 at the recent Detroit Motor Show.

Winning the award saw Sportage beat off heavyweight challenges from Jeep, BMW, Ford, GM, Toyota and fellow Korean manufacturer Hyundai.

The ICOTY jurors were apparently swung by the package offered by the Sportage, including the distinctive styling and modern technology, which features the exclusive DynaMax AWD system.

The ICOTY jury consists of 12 diverse automotive writers and editors who represent leading and respected US automotive publications. Completed voting ballots are sent to J.D. Power and Associates for final tabulation and verification.

Winners are judged based on lifestyle compatibility, with jurors considering a number of lifestyle attributes, including appeal to men and women, head-turning ability, environmental friendliness, style and performance, being affordable and practical, grocery-getting potential, safety and dependability, being fun and cool, ability to be considered a status symbol and a vehicle consumers would be proud to drive and be seen in. The new Sportage scored highly in all categories.

The accolades support growing consumer demand for the Sportage in the New Zealand market, where it went on sale successfully in the second half of 2010 with dealers experiencing very high levels of enquiry and demand, which continues into 2011.

Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand, says there is no doubt that New Zealand customers would agree with the international jury.

“Based on current dealer demand we anticipate that Sportage will continue to feature strongly throughout 2011, indicating that New Zealanders are recognising the design, technology, safety and exceptional value that Kia presents in the local market.” he says.

Continue reading “Kia Sportage wins International SUV of the Year title” »