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” »

Kia KV7 Concept gives glimpse of future mini vans

January 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

First there was the radical POP concept, now Kia Motors has pushed the design envelope even further with the funky KV7 concept vehicle unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show.

Kia designers apparently thought ‘inside the box’ with their radical idea for a lifestyle vehicle that would stand out from the crowd. The design concept of the KV7 takes the distinctive styling of the Soul urban crossover to a new level, in doing so Kia designers have rejected the pseudo ‘sporty’ descriptions that many manufacturers use to describe People Movers or Minivans.

“Everyone seems so desperate to attach the word ‘sporty’ to their minivan, even though vans, at their very core are simply a box,” says Tom Kearns, Chief Designer, Kia Motors America. “Rather than reject the box we chose to celebrate it, just like we did with the Soul, and the result is a vehicle that is meeting the needs and functionality of the modern generation of consumers.”

The KV7 concept’s most striking feature is its passenger-side gullwing door, in place of the usual sliding door, which creates a massive point-of-entry to the interior when opened in conjunction with the pillar-less front passenger door. There’s also a new interpretation of the Tiger Nose grille, which incorporates vertical LED headlamps, plus a continuous line of LED fog lights that spans the entire width of the front bumper lower lip – Kia is evaluating this unique lighting design for possible use in future vehicles. Continue reading “Kia KV7 Concept gives glimpse of future mini vans” »

Kia releases teaser images of 2012 Picanto

December 14th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Few carmakers have worked as hard as Kia in the past few years. The Korean company has got busy earning credibility and sales in seemingly all market sectors. Kia is no longer seen as a no-frills brand and now offers higher quality products with attractive styling, but the Picanto is still waiting to join the party with a new model. There has been updates in the past couple of years but it hasn’t been enough. Now Kia is preparing the next-generation model and it is already looking sharp.

With a debut scheduled for the Geneva Motor Show next March, Kia has released a couple of stylised sketches of what we might expect from the new Picanto. If the new model can carry over even half of the edgy styling from these sketches, the Picanto could be reborn as a true player in the city car market.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the current model Kia Picanto.

Kia Sportage dominates NCAP safety tests with 5-Star mark

November 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new Kia Sportage has been awarded the maximum 5-Star rating in the latest Euro NCAP safety tests.

In the tests, which were made more stringent last year to reflect the four main areas where injuries occur, vehicles are awarded points for how well they provide passenger and pedestrian protection. In surpassing the tough 2010 tests, the Kia Sportage scored better than premium European luxuries models, including the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5 and VW Tiguan. Sportage obtained scores of 93% for Adult Occupant Protection, 86% for Child Occupant protection, 49% for Pedestrian Protection and 86% for Safety Assist, which are among the highest to be awarded in the compact 4×4 class.  The Sportage received praise for having Electronic Stability Control (ESC) fitted as standard in most markets — all new Kia cars sold New Zealand have been equipped with ESC as standard for at least three years.

“These latest results from Euro NCAP highlight Kia’s commitment to ensuring exceptional levels of safety in its vehicles, which is very comforting to New Zealand customers” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

Continue reading “Kia Sportage dominates NCAP safety tests with 5-Star mark” »

Kia launches Cerato hatchback in New Zealand

November 23rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The long-awaited 2011 model Kia Cerato hatchback has just been launched for the New Zealand market.

There’s a good serving of new technology in the hatched Cerato with the 5-door Cerato coming with a 6-speed sequential shift automatic transmission, fitted as standard on all models and sporty steering wheel paddle gear shifters on the top version.

The 5-door Cerato hatchback joins the 4-door sedan and 2- door Koup to boost the range of mid-size cars, all powered by the Theta II, four-cylinder, 2-litre CVVT engine.

According to Kia Motors New Zealand General Manager Todd McDonald, the new Cerato hatchback “is designed to appeal especially to consumers who prefer a five-door hatchback for its style and enhanced practicality, in particular those with young families.”

Whilst sharing the same front profile, overall width, height and wheelbase as the sedan, the new hatchback’s roof, rear side panels, C-pillar, tailgate, rear bumper, light clusters and roof spoiler are all new.

At the front, bold styling incorporates a new radiator grille, new lower air-intake grille and new-shape fog lamps.  The door mirrors now come with LED repeaters and the two hatchback models sold here in New Zealand, LX and SX, wear re-styled ‘double five-spoke’ 16-inch and 17-inch respectively.  The rear combination lamps, which have etching-processed lenses, are split across the tailgate shut line and a sporty rear diffuser allows the exhaust tailpipe to be displayed.

In addition to its high standard equipment level that echoes the sedan and Koup models, the 2011 Cerato 5-door’s interior offers customers several new comfort and convenience features, depending on model. Among these are steering wheel ‘paddle shifters’ are fitted for the first time with the automatic transmission in the SX model and Bluetooth hands-free for mobile phone use, which comes with both models.

Continue reading “Kia launches Cerato hatchback in New Zealand” »