Car Review: 2017 Kia Rio Si.

Kia’s rollout of updated and revamped cars continues, with the Rio the latest of the family to receive a makeover. A Wheel Thing goes one on one with the $22000 (includes metallic paint)2017 Kia Rio Si.Straight up, gone are the goldfish goggle eyed headlights, trimmed down to slim line units from front on and sweeping back into the fenders. The grille is reduced to a mail slot and sits above a larger and restyled air intake bisecting two smaller slots fitted with driving lights that come on when cornering. In profile the window line echoes that of the Sorento as do the tail lights and overall the Rio seems to have a more upright stance than the outgoing model.That sleek new body hides a mix of modern and dinosaur style technology. There’s a peppy and zippy 1.4L multipoint fuel injected four, good for a maximum power output of 74 kilowatts and torque of 133 Nm. That figure is reached at 4000 rpm and it’s noticeable that pull from this engine, by the seat of the paints, comes in from around 2500. The dinosaur in the room is the archaic four speed automatic transmission. This, wholly and solely, holds back any decent driveability. Under light acceleration the shift from first to second feels as if the car has hit a puddle of molasses. When pushed the drop becomes even more visible, going from 5000 rpm down to just over 2000.

Although it shifts smoothly and slickly enough, the Rio would be better equipped with a CVT. Using the manual shift option barely improves the experience. It also affects fuel economy adversely, with the official figures being quoted as 6.2L/100 km from the 45 litre tank for the combined cycle. A Wheel Thing saw a best of 7.2L/100 and that was on a freeway at constant speed after a week of urban driving.Inside it’s a complete freshen up. A real boon for people that like variety is the addition of Digital Audio Broadcast or DAB radio. Yes, digital radio in a $22K car, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a simple and clean look to the seven inch screen, which also offers in the Si and SLi satellite navigation with traffic information, with the typically ergonomic and easy to read look that typifies Kia. The leather bound steering wheel on the tilt and reach column is home to cruise control, audio, and Bluetooth buttons, with the formerly slightly sharp edges in previous versions now of a softer and rounder design.Air-conditioning is effective and the dials are old school by the fact they’re…dials. In the console below is the USB, 12V, and auxiliary ports for external music supply as the Rio no longer carries a CD slot. Vale the silver disc. The dash and console itself, of a semi gloss black plastic (which reflects badly in the dash, a safety distraction) on the upper section and a gunmetal look across the horizontal, flows and blends smoothly into the door trim. Oh, it’s a key start, not push button, for the driver and their passenger as they sit in cloth and leather trimmed seats.The 4065 mm long five door sits on a handy 2580 mm wheelbase, allowing cargo space of 325 litres with the rear seats up, increasing to 980 litres folded. With an overall width of 1725 mm and height of 1450 mm there’s plenty of leg, shoulder, and head room for four adults. There’s also a USB port for the rear seat passengers, plus ISOFIX mounts, a feature virtually standard in Australian specification cars nowadays as are the six airbags, driver safety programs (bar Autonomous Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Alert).Apart from the four speed auto, it’s a delight to drive on the road. Although the alloys are just 15 inch in diameter, with 185/65 tyres the Rio rides and handles well enough for most road conditions. It’s crisp enough in turn-in with a surprising lack of understeer. It’ll lane change quick enough, given its 1162 kg plus passenger weight and will do so with minimal body roll. The torsion beam axle stabilises the rear but the rear suspension attached is a little too soft with that rear end feeling as if it would bottom out easier. The brakes also need a tightening up, with again a little too much travel before a satisfactory amount of bite happens. The usual bumps, lumps, and undulations do affect the little car but it remains mostly well tied down and does allow for a comfortable enough ride in the urban environment.At The End Of The Drive.
Bluntly, it’s a crying shame the Rio has been hamstrung with that four speed auto. The engine feels as if it wants to deliver more, the chassis is competent enough, the new look is sweet, and the trim levels across the three models provides a well appointed choice for buyers. As more and more makers with small cars with small engines move to CVTs, for all of their foibles, it’s a better option for the Rio than the current one.
For information, details on Kia’s seven year warranty and associated service plan, and to book a test drive, head over to Kia Australia here: 2017 Kia Rio range.

 

2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line: A Wheel Thing Car Review

SUVs are the big ticket seller in Australia and one of the brands that nails this market is Kia. The Sorento is their big gun here, and quite bluntly, the 2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line is an absolute pearler. Here’s why the $58490 (plus on roads) Sorento looks like a winner.It’s a seemingly tiny 2.2L diesel up front of the two tonne beast. Seemingly, until you find out there’s 441 torques on tap at a very useable 1750 to 2750 rpm range. Economy around town is quoted as 10.1L per 100 kilometres. Combined is 7.8L/100 km. A Wheel Thing had slightly more urban than highway yet managed to finish on a highly credible 8.5L/100 km, from a 71L tank. In fact, the Sorento had just ticked over to 750 km as we rolled into a station to top up and still had an expected range of sixty kilometres.

There’s a surprising amount of peak power, 147 kW, at 3800 rpm, meaning the transition between peak torque and power is a smooth and natural transition. Acceleration is, as a certain British brand would say, adequate. What isn’t are the brakes. For such a heavy and quick vehicle the brakes need more bite initally, as there’s just too much travel before anything feels like it’s about to bite. It’s a niggle, given the size of the front and rear discs at 320 mm and 305 mm respectively.That’s about it for anything not quite right. The rest of the GT-Line Sorento is as good as you’re going to get in the market right now. Standard equipment is pretty solid on the Sorento Platinum, on which the GT-Line is built upon. Naturally there’s a slick six speed auto and an all whheel drive system that’s front drive oriented until sensors divert grunt rearwards. The 19 inch alloys are chromed and look stunning, wrapping 235/55 rubber. You’ll enjoy tyre pressure monitoring and a full sized spare, for that extra peace of mind.

There’s an electrochromic rear vison mirror, which means it automatically dims any headlights and immediately minimises any potentially dazzle. On board are auto headlights, of High Intensity Discharge configuration and are auto leveling to boot. Kia also fits the Platinum and GT-Line with AFLS, or Adaptive Front Lighting System which “controls the headlight beam and adjusts it to suit the steering angle.”The mocha coloured leather seats are heated AND cooled with the driver getting a ten position adjustment and memory positioning, the gloss black and leather trimmed steering wheel is heated and yes, it does make a difference. A nifty touch to the front seats is the switch mounted high up on the passenger seat’s right hand side, which allows fore and aft adjustment & backrest tilt by the driver for any middle row passenger on that side feeling a touch cramped, not that they should with the leg room available. The driver gets a seven inch information screen and there’s a seven inch touchscreen for the Infinity ten speaker audio system, of which the junior reporters for A Wheel Thing said was the best car audio system they’ve heard. Naturally there’s satnav on board, which was easy to use and is designed with a clean to read look.The dash design is classic Kia, with ergonomics taking pride of place. Buttons and dials are where instinct would have your hands fall, the textures of the various plastics range from a leather look to gloss black, and there’s even extendable sunshades which, on the drive south to the beautiful NSW coastal town of Kiama, were a boon given the setting sun on the driver’s side of travel. Passenger comfort and amenities aren’t forgotten either, with 2 USB ports, three 12V charging ports, six cup holders, four bottle holders, map pockets, and rear seat aircon, plus a full glass roof for night time star gazing.

Inside the 4780 mm long machine lies a wheelbase of 2780 mm. Inside that is a seven seater configuration, allowing luggage space to go from 320 litres to a huge 2066 litres. As usual, Kia’s engineering is tending towards functional easiness, with a simple and highly effective pull strap system being used to raise and lower the third row seats. For privacy and secuity, Kia also add in a cargo screen, net, and offer an under floor compartment.Outside, the GT-Line gets alloy sidesteps and red brake callipers, which contrasted nicely with the test vehicle’s Snow White Pearl and the aforementioned chromed alloys. There’s folding mirrors, external lighting including in the door handle area, and the car responds to you as you approach thanks to the key fob triggering those mirrors and lights. And you’ll not be disappointed in the Sorento’s mix of assertiveness and flowing lines. There’s the quad or “Ice Cube” LED driving lights as seen in the sadly missed pro_ceed GT, the standout “neon light” look for the rear lights, and the trapezezoidal look for the windows in profile.It’s the road manners of the big car that will prove to be the crucial part of the experience. It’s adpet and dealing with road surface changes, nimble when required, sure footed and planted over almost everything, flattens those annoying shopping centre speed bumps into submission, and then there’s driveability from that torquey four for the extra dial it up factor.As mentioned, A Wheel Thing took the Sorento to Kiama, south of Wollongong, and chose to use the tight and twisty Mount Keira Rd and Harry Graham Drive, along the top of the imposing escarpment overlooking the town. They’re great roads for testing the handling mettle of cars and proved ideal in testing the two thousand kilo plus car. Brake travel feel aside, when they bite they do an excellent job on hauling the Sorento down to sharp corner speed, especially on some of the steeper turns. The three mode steering system adds a bit more heft in Sport but still remains somewhat artificial in feedback and is best left in Normal.It’s deft enough in that mode with quick response to light movement. Plus, the suspension on the Sorento is such that weight transfer, anything that may unsettle the vehicle in such a situation, is balanced nicely between comfort and control.

Naturally there’s the usual safety features although there’s no driver’s kneebag. There’s Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning System, and Autonomous Emergency Brake with Kia’s Forward Collision Warning System. Two ISOFIX child seat mounts are standard across the range as are seatbelt pretensioners at the front.

At The End Of The Drive.
There really is very, very, little to find fault with in the 2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line. In honesty, the brake feedbake and lack of driver’s kneebag are all that really could be improved and added, as the rest of the package for the Sorento GT Line is near nigh perfect. Add in the now standard seven year/150000 kilometre warranty, roadside assist and capped price servicing and it’s a bundle that has nothing left to be added in. It’s a car that’s better than well placed to take on the Europeans and beat them at their own game.
For more details, click here: 2017 Kia Sorento range

Geneva Auto Show 2017

Kia’s much promised and much talked about Stinger has been officially uneiled at the 2017 Geneva International Car Show.
Here’s what Kia had to say:
Kia Motors has revealed the full European specification for the new Kia Stinger, a powerful fastback sports sedan. The new Kia Stinger (hereafter Stinger) closely follows the design and engineering blueprint laid down by the 2011 Kia GT Concept, and is the highest-performance production vehicle in the company’s history.

The Stinger channels the spirit of historic grand tourers – powerful, elegant vehicles capable of moving their owners in style, at speed. At every stage of development, the Stinger has been designed and engineered to be the perfect gran turismo. The car features a head-turning aesthetic, ample room to accommodate five occupants and their luggage, a stable, unruffled ride, and nimble handling with engaging, rear-biased power delivery.

In its transition from concept to production, Kia’s GT Concept was renamed ‘Stinger’, inspired by the GT4 Stinger concept revealed at NAIAS 2014. While the car is a true GT in nature, the Stinger name evokes speed and excitement, two key characteristics found in the production car.

In Europe, the Stinger will be available with a choice of three engines: a 2.0-litre turbo gasoline engine, a powerful 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6, and a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine – expected to account for the majority of European sales.

The Stinger is the result of years of impassioned design and development work at Kia. Six years after the company revealed its powerful statement of intent in the GT Concept, the Stinger will enter production and go on sale in Europe during the fourth quarter of 2017.

Design

Turning a concept into a production car is no small feat. Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt – birthplace of the 2011 GT concept – has brought the Stinger to life, overseen by Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors, and Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer at Kia Motors Europe.

Guillaume comments, “The Kia Stinger is a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving. It’s not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace. The Kia Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey. It’s about passion.”

From its sleek frontal section, through its svelte flanks, and up to its powerful haunches, the Stinger exudes a muscular confidence. Key to its road presence are its rear-wheel drive proportions – a long bonnet and short 830mm front overhang, an extended wheelbase (2905mm) to deliver a spacious cabin, and a long rear overhang (1095mm) with strong, broad shoulders. The Stinger’s stance, proportion and visual balance are designed to lend the car an air of elegance and athleticism, rather than aggression and brutality. The Stinger measures 4830mm in length and 1870mm in width, making it longer and wider than many sport sedans, and allowing for a spacious cabin and cargo area. With a 406-litre cargo capacity (VDA), the Stinger’s boot can accommodate two full-size suitcases or golf bags, or four or five weekend bags for short trips away.

The ‘Coke bottle’ shape of the car’s flanks highlight and enhance the visual power of the Stinger’s shoulder line, as well as its fastback silhouette. Other purely functional elements of the exterior design – the front air curtains, wheel arch gills, smooth underbody, and integrated rear diffuser – aid its aerodynamic efficiency, enabling a drag coefficient of 0.30 Cd. The rear valance houses four oval exhaust pipes. Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille sits proudly between complex LED headlamps.

External gran turismo visual cues are complemented by the layout and atmosphere of the low-slung cabin, with a steeply-raked windscreen and high dashboard running along a horizontal plane. The dashboard’s centre console is split into two specific areas: the infotainment controls sit neatly below a large colour touchscreen, while the climate and ventilation controls sit beneath. In front of the driver is a thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a single instrument binnacle with a combination of analogue and digital instrumentation. The large gauges are ringed in metal and accentuated with sweeping red needles. A colour TFT screen between the gauges relays performance data – such as cornering G-forces and lap times – along with ancillary information, including trip computer, driver settings, navigation and diagnostics.

Aeronautically-inspired spoked circular vents feature in the front and rear, while a strip of satin chrome encircles the cabin. The effect is a feeling of cocooned intimacy. However, the long wheelbase, four-door body, and fastback silhouette allow for generous front and rear leg room, and the low seating position provides ample head room for all passengers. In its lowest setting, the driver’s seat is just 180mm above the road – 45mm lower than that of the Kia Optima sedan – for a low-slung, performance-oriented driving position.

Cossetting occupants in luxury, the Stinger’s deeply-contoured seats are available with ultra-soft Nappa leather, while the driver’s seat is available with four way air-cell lumbar support in the seatback and side bolsters for optimal comfort. An optional wide sunroof enhances the ambience of the interior, allowing more skylight to flood the cabin and improve the outwards view for every passenger.

European buyers will be able to order their Stinger in one of ten exterior metallic and pearlescent paint finishes.

Engines and drivetrain

Under the long bonnet of the Kia Stinger is a choice of three longitudinally-mounted turbocharged engines, each in the final stages of tuning before entering production later in 2017. With turbochargers equipped across the engine line-up, the Stinger offers drivers effortless gran turismo-style high-speed cruising and instant acceleration when called upon by the driver, with all three engines providing high power and torque across a wide band of engine speeds.

The engine anticipated to account for the majority of Stinger sales across Europe is a 2.2-litre turbodiesel, capable of producing 147kW at 3800rpm. Its maximum torque output – 440Nm – is available to drivers across a wide 1750-2750 rpm range, enabling the car to accelerate from 0-to-100 kph in 7.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 225kph.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder ‘Theta’ engine produces 188kW at 6200 rpm. Its maximum torque output – 353Nm – is available from 1400 to 4000 rpm. The Stinger’s most powerful engine is a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 ‘Lambda II’ gasoline engine, with peak power of 276kW arriving at 6000 rpm, and 510Nm torque accessible from 1300 to 4500rpm. Stinger models powered by the 3.3-litre turbocharged engine can accelerate from 0-to-100kph in just 5.1 seconds, making it the fastest-accelerating production Kia ever. With this engine, Kia is targeting a top speed of 270kph.

The Stinger features the second-generation of Kia’s electronic eight-speed automatic transmission, which is fitted as standard with all engines. Designed in-house, the eight-speed transmission rewards drivers with immediate shifts and optimum fuel efficiency. More typically found in aviation and racing applications, the Stinger’s transmission marks Kia’s first use of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) torque converter, reducing torsional vibrations through the drivetrain. The transmission offers up to five different shift and throttle programmes (as well as levels of steering assistance – see below), which drivers can select through the car’s electronic Drive Mode Select. Drivers can leave the car to shift for itself, or change gears with steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The Stinger is Kia’s first sedan to be available with either rear- or all-wheel drive – the latter offering enhanced dynamic capability in even the most challenging conditions. In its rear-wheel drive format, power is distributed throughout the rear axle by an optional mechanical limited slip differential. The rear-biased all-wheel drive system is equipped with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control, which monitors driver inputs and road conditions, automatically applying power and braking force to the appropriate wheels to maintain course in the wet or dry.

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

2016 Kia Optima Si: Car Review.

Kia’s big mid sized car, or mid sized big car, the Optima, has proved to be a stayer in recent years. For 2017 Kia has streamlined the range, with it now compromising the Si and GT, with the latter now packing a turbo engine and replacing the Platinum nameplate. A Wheel Thing takes time with the entry level Kia Optima Si.2017-my-kia-optima-si-profile-smpThere’s a good reason why the range is now just two: the Si gets crammed full of standard equipment found as options elsewhere. Apart from the standard, mandated, safety equipment such as ABS, airbags and the like, there’s Hill Start Assist, the flashing brake lights Emergency Stop Signal, parking sensors front & rear with dash display, rear view camera with guidelines, Lane Departure Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, auto headlights and with auto levelling. Straight up, that’s an impressive features list from a $38500 driveaway (no options or metallic paint) priced car.2017-my-kia-optima-si-engineWhat you’ll get up front is Kia’s 2.4L, with 138 kilowatts and 241 torques at 4000 rpm put to the front wheels via a six speed auto. It’s an engine that needs a rev to get the 1540 kg car going and that’s reflected in the consumption. The combined figure is quoted as 8.3L/100 km on standard unleaded, with an urban figure of 12.0L. That’s simply too high in today’s eco aimed environment and has been the Optima’s weak spot since the current shape was released in 2013. Take it out on the freeway and expect just over 6.0L/100 km from the huge 70 litre tank.2017-my-kia-optima-si-profileIt weighs a bit because it IS a big car but not as much as similar sized competitors. It’s big car in length at 4855 mm, big car in width at 1860 mm but has a low 1465 mm to show why in profile it’s seen as slinky and sensuous. It’s a good sized wheelbase, too, at 2805 mm, which translates into plenty of internal space, including a huge 510 litre boot space that is more than adequate for a family shop or a holiday away.2017-my-kia-optima-si-wheelDesign wise there’s subtle but crucial changes, keeping the Si’s looks fresh. It’s a more defined tiger nose grille, the LED lights in the lower quadrants of the intake inside the reprofiled bumper, the slimmer tail lights, extended boot lid, and the Continental rubber on the 17 inch alloys. A good looker? Absolutely. The test car came in Clear White, one of five colours available for the Si, with Silky Silver, Platinum Graphite, Gravity Blue and Temptation Red also available as an optionable cost (check with your dealer for pricing).2017-my-kia-optima-si-front-seatsInside it’s black cloth for the Si, on well sculpted, supportive and well bolstered, manually operated seats. For the Si, that’s the sole trim choice available. The driver and front seat passenger see a fluid, flowing, dash, with an ergonomically smart layout. The upper section, nearest the window, has a curve not unlike that seen in a premium British brand and the dash plastic has an almost leather look to the texture.2017-my-kia-optima-si-dashTabs have a soft feel and are of Kia’s semi matte finish. The overall effect is of quality and presence and wouldn’t be out of place in some more expensive Euro spec cars. And although the window line is high in proportion to the sides, there’s still plenty of all around vision. If you have portable devices or smartphones, there’s four 12 Volt sockets; two front and two for the rear seats, mounted at the rear of the centre console.2017-my-kia-optima-si-centre-dashEntertainment is courtesy of a 7 inch touchscreen with navigation, complete with USB/Auxiliary/Bluetooth streaming and a Speed Dependent Volume Control. It’s AM/FM only with limited RDS (Radio Data Service) capability, leaving the Si Optima behind some competitors. Sound quality in FM is good enough, however, with tuner sensitivity only rarely showing a dropout.2017-my-kia-optima-si-bootWhere the Si further shines is on the road. Think of the suspension tune as “sporting luxury”. Punted over a broken up tarmac surface at Sydney Motorsport Park, there’s plenty of absorption, compliance, plushness before firming up rapidly but not uncomfortably. Kia Australia works very closely with Kia’s headquarters to work on suspension tune for Australia and again that effort shows and pays off. Even being front wheel drive there’s barely a hint of that, with no torque steer yet an appreciable weight and heft to the steering feel. Speedbumps? Not a problem? Dive under brakes? Not enough to worry about. Dealing with undulations? C’mon, why ask!2017-my-kia-optima-si-rear-seatsPushed hard into a certain roundabout which has a direction of travel change of over 180 degrees, there was no understeer and the rear followed the front around without question. Nope, no tyre squeal either, before you ask. The electrically assisted steering is not overdone in how it works with the three steering modes, and the Motor Driven Power Steering Module is steering column mounted, allowing Kia to tune towars the more luxury side as opposed to the GT’s rack mounted setup.

It’s quiet, too, on the road, with the 2.4 litre engine only intruding slightly and that only when pressed hard. Wind and tyre noice are negligible at best and only mildly noticed at worst. Combined with the seating, you will emerge from a long drive without the subconscious stress outside noise brings in.

At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing, the Optima Si was priced at $34490 plus ORCs. Along with the seven year warranty, Kia offer capped price servicing over those seven years, starting off with $331.00 for the first service at one year or 15000 kilometres, with a maximum of $769.00 at the 60000 kilometre service for the Optima Si.
What a new buyer gets for their hard earned is a thoroughly well sorted car, with plenty of Australian input, a huge boot, plenty of standard features and astoundingly good value for money.

For more information on the Australian spec2017 MY Kia Optima go here: 2017 model year Kia Optima

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.