Car Review: 2017 Kia Sportage Si Premium.

Kia’s Sportage is one of the brands oldest nameplates for the Australian market. From its somewhat rough and ready, if competent, beginnings in the 1990s, it’s morphed into a handsome, bluff nosed, popular machine in the mid sized SUV market.
Available in 2017 as a four trim level range, covering Si, Si Premium, SLi, and GT-Line (formerly Platinum), there’s three engines, one transmission, and two or part time all wheel drive options. A Wheel Thing takes the entry level but one 2017 Kia Si Premium front wheel drive home for the week. The cost is $31510 with premium paint (a grey hued colour called Mineral Silver) at $520.Sportage comes with a choice of 2.0L petrol, 2.4L petrol, or 2.0L diesel. Power outputs for the diesel and bigger petrol are just a kilowatt apart, at 136 kW and 135 kW respectively. The Si and Si Premium has the 114 kW 2.0L four (plus the diesel is an option for the Si). Torque wise it’s a steady climb, from 192 Nm, 237 Nm (both at 4000 rpm) and a handy 400 Nm (1750 – 2750 rpm) for the oiler. For the Si, Kia says economy is 10.9L/7.9L/6.1L (per 100 kilometres, urban/combined/highway) from the 62 litre tank. A Wheel Thing’s final figure was 8.4L of unleaded per 100 kilometres in a mainly urban environment. Sizewise it’s well situated in the mid sized SUV bracket, with length at 4480 mm, overall width of 1855 mm, a wheelbase of 2670 mm and a ride height of 172 mm. Spare wheel is a full sized alloy.The sole transmission available is a six speed auto. There’s no paddle shifts available in the Si or Si Premium however there’s the now almost mandatory Sports shift or manual selection via the gear lever. For the most part it’s smooth enough but did exhibit occasional jerkiness and indecision. The auto would also downshift, from sixth to fifth and sometimes fourth under light throttle on slight slopes. On bigger slopes such as the Great Western Highway’s climb up from the river plain, it’s expected it would drop back, and did so easily, plus would hold that gear with only the throttle responsible for rev changes. In normal driving upshifts were slick, quiet, however light throttle on a cold engine seemed to have the cold also annoying the transmission’s electronics, with the hesitancy and judder found in older style autos.Give the Si Premium a solid push on the go pedal and it does drop back easily, as mentioned. What you’ll also get is the mechanical keen from the 2.0L as it winds its way rapidly through the rev range. The 114 kilowatts comes in at 6200 rpm and the engine certainly gives no sign it’ll struggle to reach those numbers. Acceleration is decent enough however there’s a sense that more could be on offer but doesn’t reach the front driven 225/55/18 rubber from Nexen. The 1560 kilogram kerb weight may be one reason. Braking is good, with the 305 mm vented fronts and 302 mm solid rears responding quickly and effectively every time the beautifully balancedand communicative brake pedal is pushed.The McPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension tie the Sportage down well. Although it theoretically could do some soft roading, tarmac is its natural friend and the two go well together. There’s a sense of balance in the way the Si Premium handles itself, with the tight corners for the Old Bathurst Road that snakes its way up from Penrith in Sydney’s west despatched as easily as the dips and undulations on the freeway system that rings the western parts of Sydney. Kia’s engineers spend a lot of time refining the spring and damper settings for Australian spec roads and it shows.

The Sportage is rarely fussed about the road surface, is quiet on all but the coarsest chip surfaces, and seat of the pants feedback tells you that even in quick sideways movement that it’s as composed as if it were standing still. The steering is quick at about 3.5 turns lock to lock, light in Normal mode, not much difference noticeably in Eco and feels a bit heavier, with more feedback in Sports, to round out the driving package. It helps move the Sportage from lane to lane quickly and without a sense of mass shifting direction, making for an almost sporting car drive.Apart from the tyre and wheel size between the Si and Si Premium (225/60/17 for Si), there’s also front parking sensors and electro-chromatic rear vision mirror to differentiate. The Premium also picks up LED DRLs, rain sensing wipers, driver AND front passenger Auto up/down window switches, dual zone climate control, Auto defog system, and illuminated vanity mirrors. Seat trim is a black and charcoal grey weave for the cloth with the front pews manually adjusted for height and seat back angle via levers. The rear seats fold down flat via side mounted levers and provide up to 1455 litres of cargo space, up from 460L with the seats up.The black plastics throughout the cabin have a warm texture to them, with a sweep around the bottom of the windscreen not unlike a new Jaguar. The steering wheel hub has the same feel whilst the smoother plastics are that almost suede feel to the matt fiished buttons and suurounds. The seven inch colour touchscreen, which features satnav, another item the Si alone doesn’t get, sits between the central air vents and there’s an alloy look to the surrounds. There’s bottle holders in all doors, cup/bottle holders in the centre console and a small storage locker in the console as well. The driver’s dial binnacle houses a 3.5 inch monochrome screen with information such as trip, fuel economy, service status, accessed via tabs on the steering wheel. There’s plenty of rear seat leg room, even with the front seats pushed back and enough for most front seat passengers when that seat’s pushed forward. All over and around, it’s typically high quality Kia.The touchscreen has a pseudo radio “dial look”, good quality sound, Bluetooth and Auxiliary/USB campatible, but notably no CD slot. In place of that is voice activated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. When in Reverse, the camera provides a clear enough picture but it’s not as clear and sharply defined as others available. There’s also a pair of 12V sockets at the front of the centre console and one at the rear, allowing for extra USB ports if needed. Aircon controls are simple to use, clean to look at, and the Synch button lights up when it’s a mono zone control, meaning temperature adjustment is for both right and left seats.Outside, the Sportage is stubby tailed, long bonneted, with a steeply raked windscreenbehind Kia’s signature Schreyer grille, and rear window, with a thickish C pillar and profile that reminds one of the original Sportage. The update in 2016 lost the angular and sloped headlights, changing them to an insert style that flows from the more upright nose back along the bonnet shut line. The Sportage designers may have taken inspiration from a classic sci-fi film for the design of the inner headlights, with the look not unlike at all the tri-lensed aliens from War Of The Worlds. The front bumper also has inserts for the globe lit daytime driving lights in each corner, matching the height of the rear’s indicator cluster located low in the rear bumper, not higher up inside the rear light cluster, a staple of the Sportage design.Naturally there’s plenty of safety on board in the form of six airbags, traction control, DBC or Downhill Brake Control and HAC (Hill start Assist Control). Only the GT-Line gets Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Forward Collision Warning System, and Lane Departure Warning System. Servicing is yearly or 15000 kilometres plus capped at a cost of around $2756 over the seven years.

At The End Of The Drive.
Kia Sportage range stands up to be counted in a very crowded market. It’s a car that’s full of class and oozes plenty of style. Consider sibling Tucson from Hyundai, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Renault’s brilliant Koleos, VW Tiguan and you get the idea of what it’s up against. With a strong list of standard equipment, a free revving petrol engine (and the diesel’s pretty damned good), a comfortable drive, and that seven year warranty, it acquits itself with dignity and poise. Kia’s 2017 Sportage range deserves to be on your radar when looking out for a new mid sized SUV.
For specifications and more, head over to :Kia Australia’s website and Sportage

Car Review: 2017 Kia Soul

Kia’s Soul is one of those cars that slips under the radar for no really good reason. Who knows if it’s the perception of the brand or of the name or the look, but it’s grossly unfair to disregard this car. Full stop.
Yes, it’s squarish. Yes, it looks somewhat odd, like the two or three other squarish designs. However, it’s roomy, effective, and a surprise. A mostly good surprise. Here’s a look at the 2017 Kia Soul, with the test vehicle fitted with a few extras.The 2017 model has undergone a mild facelift inside and out as of October 2016. It’s recognisably Kia inside, with a look familiar to anyone that has spent time in one of the brand’s cars. Outside, it’s a change to the grille & air intake, front bumper, fog lamps, reflectors, and wheels. The interior gets a five inch screen for the audio system, with RDS (Radio Data Service) not included, the FlexSteer drive system with associated engine mapping and steering changes, a centre dash refresh, and changes to the seat coverings and door trims.It’s smaller outside than the design would have you believe, with an overall length of just 4140 mm and a wheelbase of 2570 mm maximises interior space. Overall width is decent at 1800 mm with shoulder room aplenty for four aboard. There’s one wheel size; 17 inches is the diameter and rubber comes from Nexus at 215/55. The spare is a spacesaver.The test car came clad in Inferno Red on the body and a Cherry Black roof, a $910 option cost over a single colour choice. Any single metallic is now just $620. A Clear White and Red roof combo will also be cost effective at $390. The review car came fitted with carpeted floor mats ($160), dash mat ($93 and superb at reducing windscreen reflection), an embossed and moulded cargo bay liner ($147), weathershields for the windows ($296) and an alloy roof rack set ($552) for a total cost of $1249 over the $24990 base cost and metallic paint. It’s a boxy shape, yes, but curvaceous enough to not be a completely hard edged look either. The window shields also aided in softening the edge plus it sits high enough in looks to almost be taken for a kind of SUV.The engine is a 112 kilowatt petrol four at two litres capacity. Peak torque of 192 Nm is available at 4000 rpm, 2200 below peak power. The sole transmission choice is a six speed auto with a decidedly dual clutch feel in change under way, yet lacks the roll forward found in DCTs. Kia rates the 2.0L engine as consuming a combined figure of 8.0L per 100 kilometres driven, 6.2L/100 km on the highway and a far too thirsty 11.0L/100 km in the suburban jungle. The tank holds just 54 litres and it’s this fuel figure that is one potential reason why the Soul hasn’t had the penetration it otherwise may deserve.Due to a last minute change of circumstances, the Soul became freed up to be taken away to Bega, the cheese capital of Australia and no doubt inspiration for many Monty Python related gags….Over a period of 54 hours, from departure to arrival back at AWT HQ, the Soul faced strong head and cross winds, from south of Sydney on the Hume through to Canberra and the plains south of there, through to the road east from the driver’s delight of Brown Mountain. And return. After a round trip of 1111 kilometres, the final average fuel consumption was 8.4L per 100 kilometres. It wasn’t until returning the Soul that the claimed figure of 8.0L/100 km was seen, and that was on an unusually quiet freeway run.

On a similar run 12 months ago, AWT achieved sub 5.0L/100 km in a revamped small SUV from a niche Japanese brand. A smaller engine, turbo charged, and diesel…An 11.0L urban figure in a small SUV style vehicle just doesn’t cut it any more.
What did work, for the most part, was the six speed auto. Quiet, smooth, from stopped to go and under way. The only times it felt uncertain was in sixth at around 110 kmh on the slightest of uphill slopes, where you could feel the transmission “drag” against the spin of the engine, feeling as if it wanted to do something but didn’t know exactly what that something was. Otherwise, it’s reasonably geared, with 110 kmh seeing 2400 rpm on the tacho. But overtaking meant a solid press on the go pedal you’ll see the tacho needling zinging around well over 4000 rpm, also contributing to the fuel consumption.It’s typical Kia on the inside, meaning a well laid out dash and console, mostly matt black plastic for the dash, easy to use controls, and superbly comfortable seats (needed after a long country run). The driver sees a dash of red and black, with a centre circle, located inside the speedometer central location, showing information such as overall fuel consumption and trip meters, accessed via the standard steering wheel tabs. The speed and rev counter are analogue still, as are the temperature and fuel gauges to the right side. Cruise control and audio are also located on the tiller as are the bluetooth phone tabs. There’s a semi-circular motif embossed into the doors and some characterful designing for the airvents at each end of the dash. They sit directly underneath the horizontally located speakers and have one thinking something pagoda-like. The ovoid theme is continued with the gear selector and touchscreen both surrounded in a similar motif.As a drive, it’s engaging. The steering ratio is quick, with around 3.5 turns lock to lock and is ideal for shopping centre car parks or roadside tight parking thanks to its electronically assisted lightness. Ride quality is very good, with a slightly tighter rear than the front. The suspension is the tried and true McPherson strut/torsion beam combination and works well enough on the road. It’s nicely tied down as well, with rebound a short travel and that’s it with no pogoing. On the highways south of Canberra it was smooth sailing, even on some of the slightly unsettled and rutted surfaces, and crossing some cattle grids in Bega had plenty of rattatatta into the cabin but no body movement. On the long sweepers on the Monaro Highway it was flat and composed, with no body roll evident.Light braking of the 1375 kilogram mass plus passengers had the Soul easily controlled whilst hard braking via the progressive pedal saw little dive at the front. Hard acceleration saw no torque steer and the barest hint of a list of the nose. Slower speed corners were easily controlled either by a little less throttle in and a touch more out or a brushing of the brakes to settle the nose. The broad footprint aids in stability and the 215/55 tyres provide plenty of grip.With a cargo space (seats up) of 238 litres, there’s enough for a couple of overnight backs, until you lift the cargo space floor and see three compartments located underneath. Seats down, it increases to 878 litres. There’s bottle holders in all doors and a pair of cup holders in the centre console, plus a pair of 12V sockets bracketing a USB port and 3.5 mm socket. Standard equipment such as Auto headlights, speed related locking, rear view camera, sensors front and rear, tyre pressure monitoring and the suite of airbags and driving aids complete the picture.At The End Of The Drive.
At a tick under $27K the Soul is not expensive. Consider the seven year warranty and fixed priced servicing as well. Over seven years your service costs will be $2688.00 or $388 per year. Or, just over a dollar per day…It’s well featured, is comfortable drive and to ride in, and there’s plenty of room inside.
So why doesn’t the Soul have a better perception? You’re not spoiled for choice with just the one trim level available. It’s an unusual look in an environment populated with slick looking SUVs of various sizes and shapes or sleek European sedans. Is it the fuel economy?
Perhaps.
So it could be a combination of suburban thirst and a styling that is perhaps a little too unusual? If you were to ask the junior members of the AWT family, it’s the latter…yet they observed that from inside you couldn’t see the outside. Sage advice for any prospective buyers that would be missing out on a thoroughly competent vehicle.
As a certain Akubra wearing former TV host used to say: “Do yourself a favour” and try the Soul. Here’s where you can go to check it out and book the test drive: 2017 Kia Soul

2016 Kia Rio S Premium: A Wheel Thing Car Review.

The small car market is populated with some pretty good cars and therefore is hotly contested in that segment. Kia’s entry, the Rio, has been an entrant since 2000 in the small car class and has undergone a few body style changes, with a five and three door once available. It offers a four speed auto with the 1.4L along with a six speed manual however the 1.6L is auto only. A Wheel Thing spent a week with the 1.4L, four speed auto, S Premium and came away more than a little surprised.It’s a compact, almost boxy body, with the current iteration sitting on a 2570 mm wheelbase and is just 4045 mm in length. Toss in a 1220 kilo weight with driver and Kia’s claims of 5.7L (manual) and 6.3L (auto) of unleaded for the combined cycles from a 43 litre tank seem feasible, with A Wheel Thing finishing on 6.9L, not far off (8.2L/100km highway, 5.2L/100 km highway).The 1.4L engine pumps out just 79 kW at 6300 revs and a seemingly undertorqued figure of 135 Nm (4200 revs). That light weight makes the difference but a four speed auto simply dulls it down to a lacklustre feel. Acceleration, overtaking, aren’t measured in seconds but by calendars.It’s not an unattractive car, with the review car in plain white; there’s the signature Kia “tiger” grille, somewhat goggle eyed headlights, plastic inserts at the front bumper extremities (driving lights get fitted in the Sports model) and, in profile, the nose rises gently to meet the A pillars in an almost constant line, with a couple of subtle crease lines joining front and rear.The roofline rolls off nicely to a vertical and pert backside. Considering the overall size of the Rio, it’s a pleasant surprise to find a very usable 288L of cargo space available with the 60/40 split fold rear seats up, which increases to 923L when they’re laid flat. Wheelwise, the Rio S Premium sits on 15 inch alloy wheels and they’re clad in 185/65 rubber. Forward motion is hauled in by 256 mm vented front discs and 263 mm solid rears, with surprisingly competent brake feel.The interior in the S Premium (model tested, there’s an S below and Si/SLi/Sport above) is spacious enough however lacks an amount of pop and sizzle. It’s a standard steering wheel nowadays with audio controls but does include Bluetooth and cruise, seats are manually adjusted and there’s more a sitting on than in sensation. The centre console is bare and the radio screen is old school, with red dot matrix lighting, sitting above some delightfully simple aircon dials and aircraft style flick switches.The dash dials housed in the binnacle are as basic as they come, with two large ones for speed and revs with fuel and temperature housed in two separate, small sections to the right of the speedo, which houses a similarly red matrix display. No auto headlights is also a no-no nowadays and only the driver’s window is auto up and down. There’s some class, with piano black surrounds for the audio and ventilation controls, some alloy look highlights for the gear selector and steering wheel and tasteful shades of charcoal and off white for the rest of the cabin.Driving the Rio S Premium turned out to be a mix of fun and frustration, erring on the fun side, showing you sometimes don’t need power or speed to enjoy a car. Hamstrung, as it was, by a comparatively underpowered and undertorqued engine, it still managed to raise a smile with sheer grit and tenacity. How? By exhibiting life, character, verve in its handling. It’s not surefooted, it’s not well planted, it’ll rebound a few times in freeway undulations, it’ll kick the rear around and get unsettled easily but it involves the driver in the driving, not isolating you and leaving you six inches away from the tiller.There’s bump steer (and the steering tends towards understeer), needing instant attention, some body roll and a bit of sponginess, yes, but it brings you, the driver, into its world and asks you to be part of it. Absolutely, you need a water bottle, a cut lunch and a calendar if you’re thinking of overtaking but that’s the fun, the involvement because the driver is no longer waiting on the expectation of the car to do what you think it will do. There’s planning, calculation involved and that can only be a good thing.

Once the engine is wound up, there’s a bit of a rasp, a sense of rortiness, from the front, as the speedo does its impression of global warming by moving glacially at first then starts to pick up speed. The gearbox is smooth enough under normal driving but the hole between first and second is noticeable as the revs fall right off and you have to start again.

It might be a small car, but it doesn’t scrimp on safety, with a full array of airbags across the range, hill start assist is also standard but only the SLi gets rear parking sensors. There is ISOFIX child seat mounting points and pretensioning seatbelts as standard in all models.

The Wrap.
The car provided was listed as $19690 plus $520 for the metallic paint, totalling $20210, with the S Premium starting from $16990 (manual). Compared to cars it’s not in direct competition with, that’s a fair amount of coin to ask and A Wheel Thing struggles somewhat to reconcile that figure with what is delivered. Not everyone will see the fun factor the Rio has however the economy will be a strong point in its favour. Lacking a more modern looking dash, again, may not faze some, but that’s no excuse to offer something that the 1980’s quickly forgot about.

For pricing and more details, click here: 2016 Kia Rio range

2016 Kia Carnival Platinum petrol: A Wheel Thing Car review.

The people mover…movement…is alive and well here in Australia. Kia’s Carnival has been part of it for some time and the current model that stems from 2015 is regarded as one of the best around. A Wheel Thing takes on the Kia Carnival Platinum petrol engined edition.Kia’s design team have done the remarkable; they have taken a box and made it not only attractive, but pretty. Although it looks like a box with a snout in profile, there’s enough subtle curves to have you thinking it’s smooth, rounded, not fat and edgy. The design of the tail lights goes a long way to helping that perception, with gently smoothed off edges, the now familiar neon light look at night that Kia has for them, plus the swooping eagle eye headlight and LED driving lights (which give a seriously bad arsed impression from a distance), with the Platinum getting halogen glode lights in each front corner.Kia’s pulled out the stops with the tech; on the keyfob and in two other locations, there’s buttons for there’s remote powered sliding doors. Yes, powered sliding doors. In an overhead position in the cockpit, ala an aircraft, and in the column where the leading edge of the doors meet the cabin are where the buttons lay and they genuinely make entry and exit so much easier. There did appear to be a glitch, in that when the doors were opening before the car started, they would then close upon ignition being engaged. It goes without saying that the rear door is also powered.Driving wise there’s Blind Spot Detection, Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Departure Warning System, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Hill Start Assist Control plus there’s LED cabin lighting, Blutooth music streaming, Smart Cruise Control, DVD player (dash only, oddly, as there’s no glass roof to stop a roof mounted screen) and tri-zone aircon, with the front being dual and with separate controls for the rest of the vehicle. Toss in a 360 degree camera system and an LED rear cabin light that doubles as a torch and it’s clear just how smartly thought out this family oriented vehicle is.Motorvation comes from Kia’s 3.3L V6 petrol. It’s a pokey beast, with 206 kilowatts at 6000 revs but peak torque of 336 Nm is at 5200 rpm. Although the engine has torque aplenty below in order to get the two tonne machine up and running, it also means that consumption suffers because of the need for a heavier than neccessary right foot. Consumption around town is a tick below 16 litres of dino juice per 100 kilometres from the huge 80L tank…Consider, as well, a 2000 kilogram towing capacity.Kia fitted 19 inch chrome plated alloys, which complemented the deep metallic black paint on the test vehicle ideally, with 235/55 rubber. Although seemingly a lowish profile, there was enough give in the sidewalls and a touch of extra compliance in the suspension to provide a welcomed plush ride. Body roll was negligible and there was more than enough grip but a touch of understeer in turns, perhaps more to do with the steering rack ratio. On certain road bumps that provide an ideal suspension test, the Carnival refused to bottom out and pogoed only briefly before settling and continuing to waft along.

There’s enough grunt through the front wheels for the Carnival to “chirp” when vigourously launched, even on dry tarmac. Bearing mind its weight, there’s plenty of stopping power, too, with 320 mm vented discs up front and 324 mm solids at the rear. The overall feel of the braking system is fantastic, with plenty of feel and a beautifully weighted pedal, shading its sibling, the Sorento Platinum. Acceleration with a full load? Not leisurely but not rapid and watch the tank drain if you continually fang it.Sitting on a massive 3060 mm wheelbase, it comes as no surprise that there’s more than enough interior room. It’s a full house eight seater, with tilt and slide centre and second row rear seats. Cargo is considerable; even with all seats up there’s 960 L and 2220 L with the third row folded. Kia says there’s a mammoth 4022 litres with the rear seats folded and the centre row centre section removed. Staying with the interior, it’s the high quality we’ve come to expect from Korea, with a pleasing colour mix inside, subtle variations in the texture of the plastics, 3 USB and 12V sockets, a seven inch colour dash display with mechanical dials, drink holders aplenty (ten!! cups and four bottles) although, oddly, a cooling vent in the glovebox but not, logically, in the uppermost storage which was big enough to hold a one litre or so bottle.

There was a huge centre console storage locker as well, which also could have been fitted with cooling. There’s eight way power adjustment for the driver and passenger seats, heating and ventilation (yay!!) PLUS a heated steering wheel…unfortunately, the insert in the wheel itself holds heat from the sun so driving gloves may be an option in some parts of Australia.

Satnav and infotainment is accessed via an eight inch touchscreen; the system itself is user friendly and includes adjustments for the sound system. This one sounded far better than the diesel Carnival reviewed twelve months ago.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Kia Carnival Platinum tested was priced at $63304 driveaway, with the metallic paint paint a $695 option. The range starts at just over $45700. As an option to SUV’s, it stands up admirably. In fact, it is, perhaps, the most complete family car that isn’t a SUV that you can buy. Given the Carnival won drive.com.au’s 2015 People Mover of the Year and has garnered accolades here and overseas, combined with the driving experience, the look and feel, the feature list, the incredibly flexible and capacious interior, and Kia’s unrivalled seven year warranty, put the Carnival Platinum firmly into your list of cars to consider.

Go here: Kia Carnival range for your information on the brilliant alternative to SUV’s.Behind the Wheel - widget ad finalPrivate Fleet LogoBid My Car

2016 Kia Sorento Si Petrol: Car Review.

2016-kia-sorento-si-profileWhen an SUV is nominated for, and wins, best car awards, there’s a fair bet something is being done right by the company that builds it. Kia’s Sorento was carsguide’s 2015 Car of the Year, Drive’s best SUV for 2015, and a winner in Australia’s Best Cars Family Wagon and SUV categories. A Wheel Thing looks at the current entry level model in the range, the Kia Sorento Si with auto and V6 petrol engine.2016-kia-sorento-si-engineThe Si is two wheel, front wheel, drive. The 3.3L V6 powers those front wheels with 199 kW and 318 Nm of torque. Kia says fuel consumption is: 9.9L per 100 km – Combined, 13.5 L/100 km – Urban and 7.8L/100 km out on the highway of standard unleaded from a 71 litre tank. There’s a tare weight of 1875 kilograms…why are these numbers important? It’s where the maximum torque figure is delivered, and that’s at a very high 5300 rpm. What does this mean for a daily driver? We’ll come back to that.

What you’ll find inside and out is a mix of the quality buyers expect from the Korean car maker. There’s Kia’s three modes for driving (Eco, Sport, Normal), safety in the form of Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Hill Start Assist Control, and even the Euro style Emergency Stop Signal. Front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera with parking guidance, auto headlights, curtain airbags as standard and pre-tensioning seatbelts add to the package.2016-kia-sorento-si-rearSorento has been a solid looking car and the 2017 model year version is no different. The Si rolls on a set of 17 inch alloys, bolted to a 2780 mm wheelbase. Overall length is 4780 mm, just slightly shorter than Kia’s brilliant Optima but stands at 1690 mm, giving the Sorento an imposing presence. A slight makeover for the current model involved a broadening of Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille, a freshening of the front and rear whilst largely remaining the same in profile. Rolling stock is 235/65 Kumho Crugen rubber on those ten spoke alloys.2016-kia-sorento-si-wheelInside, it’s cloth seats (all seven of them), with the rear two and centre three folding flat by virtue of a pull strap (rear) and a handle mounted in the base (centre). They’re easy to deploy at the rear and only slightly less so in the middle. Raising the centre seats is a bit more of a problem and for the slightly built it could be a struggle. There’s plenty of padding and support up front in the seats themselves, allowing both comfort and security for the passengers, and the rear row also gets separate air conditioning.2016-kia-sorento-si-centre-row-seatsThe cabin’s upper dash is a swathe of black textured plastic, with a curve running from each door to around and underneath the windscreen and highlighted by a grey plastic wood trim. It’s good looking and feels soft enough to the fingers. Underneath it’s the smooth, more matte than gloss, plastic and the typical synergystic ergonomics expected. There’s little thought needed to where your fingers need to go as once you’ve eyeballed the layout, it’s instinctive as to what you do.2016-kia-sorento-si-dashThe steering wheel houses the usual array of cruise control, Bluetooth and audio controls, and is thick enough to impart a feeling of security and control when under way. The material feels like leather and is cool to the touch. The Si uses a standard key for starting, rather than the push button system found elsewhere in the range. The actual steering feel was lighter than expected but also didn’t feel over assisted on the road.2016-kia-sorento-si-cargo-22016-kia-sorento-si-cargoAt the rear there’s the aforementioned third row of seats, with their separate aircon zoning. With these and the centre row seats up, you’ll have 320 litres of cargo. Lay them flat and that jumps to 1077 litres. If you’ve just bought a new flatscreen tv and need some extra room, the middle row goes down and cargo goes up to an astonishing 2066 litres. You’ll also see an extra USB and 12V port pair.2016-kia-sorento-si-rear-usb-and-12v

Ride and handling surprised in the stiffness of the suspension; the square kerbs in A Wheel Thing’s suburb provided a unique opportunity to test the suspension’s suppleness. Bearing in mind the Si is two and front wheel drive, not all wheel drive, the Sorento would “cock a leg” coming off the verge and kerbs at an angle. However, that stiffness added to the stability and handling characteristics of the Sorento, ensuring any driver will feel the car is firmly planted on the road. There’s just enough give in the suspension’s setup to allow for the normal lumps, bumps, and ripples to be dialled out for the sake of comfort.2016-kia-sorento-si-frontBack to the engine: it’s a free spinner when required and does actually move the two tonnes, when loaded, away well enough. Sink the slipper and although there’s a cost in economy, there’s an engaging and throaty roar, coupled with the swift and smooth changes of ratios. It’s not raucous yet has a metallic keen and it’s not thrashy yet there’s a sonorous buzz as revs climb.

The transmission itself is actually more smooth in its changes when pushed than when under light load. The changes are more noticeable, feel as if they take longer yet become invisible under a heavy throttle. There’s the manual shift option for the selector however Kia has elected not to fit paddle shifts.2016-kia-sorento-si-front-seatsAt The End Of The Drive.
Kia make damned nice cars, there’s no doubt about that. The perception of the brand IS increasing and slowly not being seen as a cheap Korean alternative but rather a maker of quality vehicles. There’s some great concepts and variations hopefully on the way but until Kia addresses the consumption figures, there’ll be a wariness from buyers. A Wheel Thing has just spent time with a HSV V8 powered vehicle, with an engine capacity of 6.2L up front. That finished on an average of 12.0L per 100 km, which puts the quoted figures of the Sorento Si under the spotlight. And with a driveaway price of just over $45K catching the eye of many families, fuel costs are a consideration.
For further details, go here: Kia’s 2016 Sorento

Car Review: 2016 Kia Cerato S hatch

Kia’s Cerato underwent a mild nip and tuck in 2016; with a reprofiled nose the main visual change it’s freshened the look even though the now superceded model wasn’t in danger of looking dated. Available in a four door sedan and five door hatch with four trim levels, (S, S Premium, Si and SLi) plus a sole 2.0L engine for the range, A Wheel Thing takes on the 2016 S hatchback with auto.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch frontEngine and transmission have been left untouched and that’s not entirely a good thing. There’s a harshness, almost a grating vibration in the drivetrain up to medium throttle, plus a notable hesitancy, a lag, in gear shifting in the six speed auto fitted to this car. The Cerato’s accelerator responds better to being pushed hard and you’ll see that vibration gone, along with the speedo and tacho needles whizzing around the dials rapidly. Power peaks at 112 kW (6200 rpm) and maximum torque is a not indecent 192 Nm @ 4000 revs.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch engineBeing a smallish capacity petrol fueled four, it’s typical that higher revs extract better performance, albeit at the cost of economy, to a point. Kia claims 9.8L/100 km of 91 RON from the fifty litre tank in the urban cycle and A Wheel Thing pretty much matched those numbers. Having said that, it’s a figure that’s too high for this sort of vehicle and is spanked by Suzuki’s new Vitara range for economy. On the highway, the six speed auto sees the figure drop to a more reasonable 5.7L/100 km. The S is the only model of the four to offer a manual, sadly.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch rearWeighing in at 1332 kilos (dry), the Cerato hatch proved nimble on its feet to counter the thirst. Although needing more steering lock than expected for low speed ninety degree turns, ie, coming into a non-stop required corner, it’s otherwise responsive, answering the call to move left or right in a freeway flow in a smooth and progressive move. The weight itself of the steering was heavier than expected, but a pleasant weight compared to the light, over assisted electrically powered systems in other cars.

Ride quality is something that Kia Australia has invested heavily on, and it shows. There’s revised springs at the front McPherson struts, a slightly stiffer setup to improve the already excellent balance between comfort and handling, plus improvements to the power steering unit, adding to the feel and weight, as mentioned. There’s even been a change to the steering’s computer processing, which enhances the three driving modes of Eco, Normal, and Sport.

Tyre grip from the 205/55 Nexen NBlue rubber is pretty damned good too, with superglue meets spider’s web when it comes to hanging on, and silently, when really thrown into turns. There’s minimal road noise as well, plus that softness can be enjoyed on the flatter roads with just a hint of float creeping in, rather than a nauseating up and down, again thanks to the springs and shocks being further calibrated for Aussie roads. The overall impression was of a slightly soft yet unfussed ride, matched with enough grip to suit most drivers in the market for this car.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch wheelOutside, the changes to the nose are reflected in the shape of the headlight assembly, grille, and lower corners of the bumper up front, with flow through vents. The effect is a sharper and edgier look and actually harkens back to the model before the one this replaces.

The rear in the S is unchanged. Not even the tail light lenses have been changed…The S is also the only version to get steel wheels and plastic covers but all four do get a full sized spare. The hatcg is also slightly shorter overall than the sedan, at 4350 mm against 4560 mm for the sedan, but both ride on the same wheelbase at 2700 mm. It also stands a fraction taller at 1450 mm, with 15 mm the difference between the two. Parking sensors? Front and rear, thank you.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch boot2016 Kia Cerato S hatch spare wheelInside, cargo space is over 620 litres, more than enough for a weekly shop for a family of four and houses a full sized spare. There’s the usual assortment of bottle and cup holders, the traditional placement of USB/Aux sockets for external audio sources plus Bluetooth as well. The S gets a non touchscreen head unit which can be optioned out to include a 7-inch touchscreen audio visual unit with reversing camera, Android Auto connection and dusk sensing headlights in a $500 option pack. The dash display is non colour and you’ll get the tried and proven dials for the aircon in a single zone set up.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch front seatsThe plastics themselves have a mix of textures, with the dash a ruppled design whilst the tabs and buttons have that almost suede look. Kia say that there’s been an improvement to the overall presentation of the plastics…personally you’d be hard pushed to tell. The interior is also Model T when it comes to colour choice; you can have black, black, or black. Outside one can choose from eight, including a pearl white, two shades of blue and a grey.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch dashKia don’t skimp on the safety, of course: airbags at the front, side and curtain, front seatbelt pretensioners, Hill Start Assist, Emergency Stop Signal, whilst niceties such as Land Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are left to the Si and SLi.
When it comes to warranty, there’s Kia’s standard seven years and there’s also their capped price servicing, staring at $289 for the first year or 15000 kilometres (at the time of writing) with a maximum cost of $487 for year four.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch rear seatsAt The End Of The Drive.
As always, Kia have provided a serviceable product. With a RRP of $22290 plus an optioned metallic paint cost of $520, (but a drive away price on introduction of $19990), it’s wallet friendly. Combine that with a user friendly chassis, a competent chassis, a comfortable enough office at the entry level, the only real downside is the niggling thorn of fuel economy. Ten litres per hundred kilometres is simply not good enough anymore.
More details can be found here: 2016 Kia Cerato hatch.