2011 Kia Picanto Review

July 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia’s all new 2011 Picanto was launched at a press event in Auckland yesterday and Car and SUV was given a first drive in this much-improved micro machine.

With a tagline of “Clever Around Town” the new Kia Picanto is designed for city/suburban use and comes with eco credentials, more standard equipment and sharper driving dynamics.

The Picanto’s price tag is also very tempting with the base model available from $18,590. So what do you get for the money?

The Picanto is being sold in NZ in two trim specifications LX and the higher grade EX. The entry model is the LX with a manual transmission, this features a clever ISG (Idle Stop & Go) technology which switches off the engine when idling and instantly re-starts as the clutch is depressed. It’s an impressive feature to offer in a sub $20k vehicle and while it takes some getting used to, it functions well. With this tech and a small 1.2-litre petrol engine the manual Picanto returns a thrifty fuel economy figure of 4.3L/100km. This makes it the most economical petrol dedicated car in the NZ market – so running costs are extremely low. The automatic LX and EX model Picantos return a fuel economy of 5.3l/100km and 5.6l/100km respectively. Continue reading “2011 Kia Picanto Review” »

Kia to build rear-driving V8-powered coupe?

July 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

A rear wheel drive sports coupe with a V8 powerplant will catch the interest of most driving enthusiasts, but what if the car is built by Kia? It’s difficult to know how such a vehicle would be received but the Korean carmaker could be willing to find out, if new reports prove true.

Kia has a new K9 sedan set to go on sale in global markets from next year. The K9 platform could lend itself to a rear-wheel-drive layout and even a V8 motor. But Kia wants to go even sportier and apparently will release a pair of RWD coupe concepts to check public interest and reception. Is it just crazy enough to work? Kia plans to find out at the Frankfurt Motor Show with its first coupe and then reveal a second concept at the Detroit Auto Show next January. If the hard-to-please sportscar crowd think the concepts are a fair punt then a production model could be prepared for sale by 2015.

Kia to sell first global hybrid car – may come to NZ

May 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Motors is about to launch its first ever global hybrid car with the introduction of the Optima Hybrid into the U.S market next month.

The Optima Hybrid uses a Kia-developed powertrain with lithium polymer batteries that won’t need replacing for up to ten years or 240,000kms.

The Optima Hybrid will be a full parallel hybrid vehicle with its 2.4-litre GDi direct injection petrol engine mated to a small electric motor driving the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.  A special clutch is fitted between the engine and motor, enabling the petrol engine to be de-coupled from the powertrain so that Optima can be operated in zero-emission, full-electric drive mode from standstill up to 100km/h ( 9.2 seconds) or in a co-operative electric-petrol mode at any speed.

Together, the 2.4-litre petrol engine and 40kW electric motor produce a combined power output of 154kW and 265Nm of torque and when it’s running on electric alone produces no emissions. Overall combined emissions are estimated to be 99 grams of CO2/Kilometre.

Kia says the system’s configuration does not have a requirement for a high-capacity electric motor and generator, saving weight and cost. Fuel economy is rated at 6.2L/100km in the combined cycle. This is aided by lowering the car 5mm and including an ‘active air flap’ in the front grille, smooth under-floor panels, low-drag wheels and low rolling resistance tyres. Continue reading “Kia to sell first global hybrid car – may come to NZ” »

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” »