Kia’s style focus pays off in NZ market

July 22nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Motors focus on style is starting to pay dividends in the New Zealand market.

Latest figures show new models like the Kia Cerato Koup and Kia Sorento R are being purchased from Kia Motors dealerships as buyers fall for their designs as much as their value.

The arrival of the sculptured Cerato Koup has given Kia the lead in the sporty vehicle segment of the New Zealand market, outselling other 2-door vehicles like the VW Eos, Audi A5 and Nissan 370Z. In fact, the Cerato Koup has revitalised the sports segment, helping to lift sales by almost double in the first five months of 2010.

“Cerato Koup has been an outstanding success for Kia in New Zealand and, at times, we have run out of stock completely,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

“The excellent response from customers has caused us to lift our target for Cerato Koup sales by 50% for 2010.”

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Kia Rio EX 2010 Review

June 25th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The second-generation of Kia’s mid-size Rio hatchback first reached New Zealand back in 2006 arriving as a capable and modern option for the budget conscious driver. But the Kiwi love affair with the hatchback meant competition was fierce and the plucky Korean compact didn’t stay new for too long. For 2010 the Rio has been given a facelift and a new lease on life, but will this be enough to iron out the wrinkles on this ageing model. Car and SUV spent a week with the reworked Rio to find out more.

As the latest vehicle to be updated in the Kia range the Rio receives the new corporate tiger-nose grille. That’s just the centrepiece of a completely restyled front end that incorporates a more aggressive front bumper with a gaping lower air dam and more pronounced fog lamps. The headlights are also new and use a split two-light design. It’s all very tidy along the sides with body coloured mouldings, door handles, a curved window line and wing mirror mounted indicators. At the rear a new bumper with a black plastic diffuser surrounds a chrome-finished exhaust tip. Completing the clean-cut look are eight-spoke 15-inch alloys and a subtle high-mounted hatch spoiler.

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Official 2010 Kia Soul hamster commercial

May 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The official 2010 Kia Soul hamster commercial with music by Goldfish! The Soul. A new way to roll.

Kia’s 2010 big game commercial

April 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

See Kia’s first big game commercial, starring the All-New 2011 Sorento, and an unbelievably colorful cast of characters.

Kia Cerato Koup SX 2010 Review

April 1st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

‘Fortune favours the bold’ is how the old Latin proverb goes and Kia’s new Cerato Koup is attempting to prove a new relevance for the dated sentiment. The two-door coupe is a body shape that many carmakers have dabbled with in the past but in the current economic climate are weary of. Kia has recognised a gap and seen an opportunity to reinforce the message of its Soul model — that Kia now makes design-focused vehicles. The Koup represents Kia’s first foray into the two-door sports car market and while there is little doubt it’s a ballsy move, is it one that will see fortune follow? Car and SUV got the tyres spinning on the low-slung Koup to find out the bottom line.

Exterior styling is without doubt the Koup’s biggest strength and even the harshest badge snob will admit it’s a handsome machine. The Koup is lower, shorter and lighter than the four-door Cerato sedan on which it’s based and shares a single body panel — a scalloped bonnet. The ascending beltline, high rear deck and low roof give the Koup genuine presence and an athletic stance. The aggressive styling kicks off from the front with Kia’s corporate grille sitting above a gaping lower bumper inlet and fog lamps. Out back, flattened rear lights and a pronounced boot lip draw the eye, with a twin exhaust tip blowing out street cred. The sporty look is finished off with bespoke silver/black 17-inch alloys that highlight the black exterior trim. Overall, the Koup’s styling is boldly unique and works as a rolling billboard to inform the world just how far Kia has developed.

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Kia Sorento R Ltd 2010 Review

March 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Kia is currently shifting from a bit player to a serious force in the NZ car market with its keenly priced vehicles and a rapidly modernising range. Where Kia got one of its first big breaks was with the Sorento medium-sized SUV. Released in 2002 the first-generation Sorento helped put Kia on the map and went on to sell more than 900,000 units globally.  For 2010 Kia has released the new Sorento R and it comes carrying high hopes that it can again fight its way to contention in a very competitive segment. The Ford Territory, Nissan X-Trail, Holden Captiva and close relative Hyundai Santa Fe are all pushing their case. To stand out the Sorento will need sharp looks, strong mechanicals and to offer good value. Car and SUV spent a week with the new Kia Sorento R to find out if it delivers.

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Kia Carnival Ltd 2010 Review

February 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Why would you name a motor vehicle the Carnival? Is it because when it parades down main street people stop and watch in awe? Not this Carnival. Or is it because it inspires young women to drink too much and then expose their breasts? Definitely not this Carnival.

It must be called a Carnival because like most Carnivals there are a lot of people in it. Eight people to be exact can fit in this Carnival at a squeeze. It took only one driver, however, to get the party started when Car and SUV road tested Kia’s 2010 Carnival Ltd.

A quick walk around the Carnival quickly reveals a utilitarian vehicle that’s built solely for its people moving purpose rather than any glitz or glamour. There are some clear aesthetic similarities with Chrysler’s Grand Voyager in its slab sides, van-like dimensions and generic front. Practicality is evident through the Carnival’s tinted security glass, large wing mirrors and handy integrated roof rails. Although sharp styling isn’t a major focus for vehicles in the MPV segment the Carnival could still benefit from a freshen-up. But new sheetmetal shouldn’t be too far away with Kia’s range-uniforming tiger-nose grille a likely addition.

For any people mover it’s the inside that counts most and the Carnival has plenty on offer for its numerous occupants with three rows of seats providing for various layouts. The back row can be folded flat into the floor and the middle row can be folded up or completely removed to create an enormous, even loading area. It’s an impressive seating layout and even with all three rows in use there is a small but usable luggage area at the very back. The front seats are wide and flat offering decent comfort and great visibility but little lateral support. Leather comes with the Ltd model as does power adjustment for the driver’s seat and tri-zone air conditioning to keep rear passengers cool. There is no DVD system for the family but an eight-speaker Infinity stereo handles entertainment duties well.

One feature that is surprisingly handy is powered sliding doors on both sides of the Carnival and a powered tailgate at the rear. Controlled by the key fob it’s easy to have the doors open by the time you reach the vehicle carrying your shopping and closed again when you start again. The slow sliding motion also cuts down the chance of little fingers getting jammed and subsequent stress. Other useful kit on the lengthy Carnival Ltd spec sheet includes; reversing camera and warning sensors, steering wheel mounted stereo and cruise controls, rain sensing wipers, a trip computer and 17-inch alloys.

Cabin fit and finish isn’t the Carnival’s strongest suit and there is a plasticky interior atmosphere. That said, many of the surfaces are covered in tough wipe-clean materials which are consistent with the Carnival’s practicality-first ethos and the vehicles budget pricing has to show somewhere. There’s also a range of small storage options, 12V plugs and cup holders throughout.

Working behind the scenes on the Carnival is Kia’s 2.9L CRDi Turbo diesel unit producing 134kW of power and a healthy 343Nm of torque. It’s not a performance motor but does allow for reasonable progress. A 9.0l/100km fuel economy is achievable on the combined cycle. One issue with the engine is its power delivery that can be erratic, starting off sluggish and then coming on in a sudden burst as the turbo spools up. It also never feels comfortable when used hard and becomes quite loud and unrefined. It will get around town without issue but on the open road fully laden, plenty of room will be required for safe overtaking.

The diesel engine is mated to a 5 speed automatic transmission, which is a competent unit and goes about its work with minimal fuss. Manual gear changes are available through a sequential shift capability on the gear stick. This is a handy option for holding the motor in gear to draw out all available power.

Dynamically the Kia is best suited to a leisurely pace. Soft suspension gives it a generally comfortable ride but rough uneven roads can unsettle it. The Carnival holds the road well with enough grip to stay safe but there is a liberal dose of body roll. There’s a high feel to its movement and must be handled accordingly. It’s firmly at the van end of the people-mover-scale while a competitor like the Honda Odyssey has much more of a station wagon dynamic but lacks the Carnival’s space.

Being a family vehicle safety is always going to attract scrutiny and the Carnival has the features buyers are seeking. An electronic stability programme, ABS, brakes, six-airbags, kiddie door locks, ISOFIX points, and seatbelt pretensioners are all standard fare.

The strongest virtue of the Carnival like most Kia models is in its price and at $53,990 you get a lot of equipment, comfort and class-leading space for the money. The entry-level EX Carnival has most of the Ltd’s more useful features and priced at $46,990 is also worth a look. Both vehicles come with Kia’s excellent 5-year/100,000km warranty and 1500km first service.

The Carnival is caught a bit short in power and handling ability but that won’t concern many buyers in the mini-van segment. What I respect about the Carnival is that it makes no attempt to masquerade as something it’s not. It’s a vehicle intensely focused on practicality down to the smallest detail with limited thought for aesthetics and gimmickry. What it gives buyers is comfortable, safe and spacious travel for the driver and 7 others. If you need the extra seats, don’t care about going fast and you want peace of mind motoring for the next 100,000km then take a long look at the Kia Carnival.

Price: 53,990 (EX diesel $46,990)

What we like:

  • General practicality
  • Very spacious
  • Price and warranty

What we don’t like:

  • Bland design
  • Weak driving dynamics
  • Erratic power delivery

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Other reviews of interest:

Honda Odyssey (2009) — Road Test

Dodge Journey R/T (2009) — Road Test

Chrysler Grand Voyager (2008) — Road Test

Honda Odyssey (2006) — Road Test

Kia Carnival Ltd (2010) – Specifications

ENGINE
Engine type 2.9L DOHC CRDi Turbo Diesel
Displacement (cc) 2902 cc
Compression ratio 17 : 3
Max. power 134 kW @ 3800 rpm
Max. torque 343 Nm @ 1750 – 3500 rpm
Fuel economy (combined cycle) 9.0L / 100 km
CO2 emissions (g/km) 224

TRANSMISSION
Gear box 5 speed automatic with sport shift

SUSPENSION
Front suspension McPherson strut
Rear suspension Multi link

WHEELS
Tyres 225/70 R16 235/60 R17

DIMENSIONS
Overall length 5130 mm
Overall width 1985 mm
Overall height 1830 mm
Wheelbase 3020 mm
Min. ground clearance 167 mm
Kerb weight min./max 2009 / 2141 kg
Interior volume (1st/2nd/3rd) 1770 / 1530 / 1390 litres
Fuel tank capacity 80 litres
Towing capacity – unbraked (kg) 750
Towing capacity – braked (kg) 2000

2011 Kia Sportage gets new look

February 4th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

When the Geneva Motor Show opens up next month, the third-generation Kia Sportage will be revealed and is looking to bring the SUV to the top of the class in looks.

Resembling a scaled down version of the recently introduced Sorento R, the new Sportage incorporates the Peter Schreyer-penned Kia design language in an an aggressive looking package that should stand out among competitors. The new model is longer, lower and wider, with the now signature Tiger front grille.

The Sportage is expected to use the same 2.4-litre inline-four found in the new Hyundai Tucson when it arrives later this year, although their may be a range of gas and diesel power options from which to choose.

Check back as we bring you more vehicles from the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.