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Korean cars

2019 Kia Sportage Has Arrived.

Korean car maker Kia has given its Sportage mid sized SUV a mid life makeover. There’s some exterior enhancements, interior updates, and changes to the safety packages.
Safety: Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) are now standard across the range. Diesel transmission: an eight speed auto is standard for any diesel engined model.
The Si has as standard: ABS, ESC, Downhill Brake Control, Hill Start Assist, reverse parking sensors, rear view camera with dynamic guidelines, Lane Keeping Assist, AEB with Forward Collision Warning, High Beam Assist, 3-point ELR seatbelts in all positions, six airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters, and impact sensing auto door unlocking. Also standard on the Si is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, engine immobilizer, remote central locking, 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, 6-speaker audio unit, cloth trim seats, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, power windows front and rear, Bluetooth functionality, 2.0-litre MPi engine or 2.0-litre CRDi engine, 6-speed automatic on petrol and 8-speed on diesel and 17-inch alloys with 225/60 R17 tyres.Next up is the Si Premium. Satnav is standard, as are front parking sensors, LED DRLs, 225/55/18 rubber and alloys, DAB and an eight inch touchscreen, plus ten years worth of SUNA satnav. SLi adds a tyre pressure monitoring system, powered driver’s seat that’s adjustable for ten ways, and LED rear lights. The GT-Line ups the ante even further with Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, 8-way power front passenger seat, Intelligent Parking Assist System, LED fog lights, GT-Line sports pack (bumpers, side sill and grille), panoramic sunroof, flat-bottomed sports wheel with gear-shift paddles, wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, hands-free power tailgate, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, 19-inch alloys with 245/45 R19 rubber and LED headlights with auto levelling.Exterior design changes have the rear lights tidied to provide a more integrated look and better brake light visibility. LED lamps up front for the GT-Line provide a better lighting spread, plus the bezels for the fog lights in the Si and Si Premium have been sharpened for a more assertive road presence. Even the wheels have been changed in design for a new, fresh, look.
Interior room has been increased with a 30mm lengthening of the wheelbase. Overall length has moved to 4485mm, an increase of 45mm, with headroom and legroom increasing by up to 19mm. A subtle lowering of the bonnet’s leading edge adds to raising pedestrian safety levels.Underneath are changes that aren’t easily seen but will be noticed on road. Revised and relocated suspension components. The suspension bushes have been moved, wheel bearings have been stiffened, as have the bushings. The rear suspension cross member was also uprated to reduce vibration input to the cabin and the whole rear subframe has been mounted on uprated and isolated bushings.
Motorvation is courtesy of a 2.0L petrol four with 114kW and 192Nm of torque, 2.4L petrol with 135kW & 237Nm. The diesel is 2.2L of capacity with 136kW and a thumping 400Nm of torque.Pricewise: Si 2.0-litre petrol: $29,990. Si 2.0-litre diesel: $35,390. Si Premium Petrol: $32,290 (D/A $31,990). Si Premium diesel $37,690 (D/A $37,390).
SLi 2.0-litre petrol: $36,790. SLi 2.0-litre diesel: $42,190. GT-Line 2.4-litre petrol: $44,790. GT-Line 2.0-litre diesel: $47,690.  Head to the Kia website

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Is On The Way.

Hyundai‘s big SUV, the Santa Fe, has received a substantial makeover and it’s heading our way. The sheetmetal has been completely reworked, safety standards have been lifted, and overall ride & build quality has been improved. The Active petrol starts from $43,000, with the diesel at $46,000. The Elite kicks off at $54,000, and Highlander at $60,500, with these being the manufacturer’s list price. Here’s what we’ll be getting.Santa Fe comes in three trim levels: Active, Elite, and Highlander. The Active offers a choice of a 138kW 2.4L petrol and six speed auto or a revamped 440Nm diesel and eight speed auto that’s new to the Korean brand and gears can be paddle shift selected. The petrol’s peak torque of 241Nm is available at 4000 rpm. The diesel offers the peak amount from 1750 to 2750 rpm. Economy for the petrol is quoted as a reasonable 9.3L/100km on a combined cycle. The Elite and Highlander are specced with the EURO 5 compliant diesel and is quoted as 7.5L/100km for the combined. The exterior has been sharpened and flattened all around. Design cues from the Kona are strong, with the signature Cascading Grille, which is in a carbon effect finish on Elite and Highlander, split level lighting system being balanced via reprofiled tail lights which are LED lit in the Highlander. In between is a reprofiled body including a strengthened look to the wheel arches. Overhang at the rear has increased, and the overall length has gone up too. It’s an increase of 70mm to 4770mm and wheelbase size is also up, to 2765mm. Hyundai has also relocated the wing mirrors to the door panels. Height and width are impressive at 1680mm and 1890mm. Drive is courtesy of the HTRAC AWD system which is standard in all three and ride is thanks to revamped MacPherson struts and multilink rear. The HTRAC system comes in three drive modes, Comfort, Sport, and Eco, with torque being apportioned front or rear depending on which mode is selected. Sport has up to 50% shifted rearwards, Comfort up to 35%, and Eco goes to the front wheels. The rear has been stiffened and components realigned to provide more travel. Suspension rates have been further adapted for Australian roads so the Santa Fe will sit more comfortably on the road yet will follow contours precisely. Weight has been saved by utilising aluminuim for the front steering knuckles and rear carrier mountings for a total of 3.6kg and 5.6kg for each side.Safety has gone up a notch or two also. The physical structure of the Santa Fe has been improved with fifteen percent more high tensile steel and fifteen hot stamped components, up from six. Then there’s the standard list of equipment. Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (with autonomous application), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA)Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), High Beam Assist (HBA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) are in all three.A couple of other nifty features are auto opening tailgates for the Elite and Highlander when the Smart Key is detected, and there’s a “Walk In” feature for the second row of seats that folds them flat, allowing easier rear seat access. The sound system in the Elite and Highlander is a ten speaker setup courtesy of Infinity. Highlander also features a smartphone charging pad for compatible items.

Head to Hyundai’s website for more information.

Game Changing Kia Cerato Updates For 2019

Today’s car sales figures feature SUVs and working utes as the leaders. Sedans are still available and Kia’s Cerato sedan has just been given a solid freshen up, inside and out. These updates have given the small mid-sizer more than enough appeal to bring back those perhaps tempted by SUVs or forgetting that there are still SUV alternatives. It’s an important car to Kia, the Cerato, with a third of Australian sales from this range.

In relative terms, the updates bring even more value to the Cerato. The range starts with the Cerato S at a current listed driveaway price of $19,990 for the manual six cogger. A six speed conventional (non CVT or dual clutch) auto is a $1500 premium. Engine choice is Kia’s free spinning 2.0L petrol powerplant with 192 torques and 112kW of peak power. The Si and SLi nameplates have been benched, replaced with the $23,690 Sport and $26,190 Sport+. Standard trim across the range is, to say the least, extensive. Kia says:”Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, 16-inch steel wheels, Drive Mode Select, six airbags, tyre pressure monitor, speed limiter, 6-way driver seat adjustment, cruise control, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition, 6-speaker DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity, manual air-conditioning and power windows with driver auto-down.”Move up to the Sport and there’s alloys at 17 inch diameter, SUNA satnav with a ten year fee update cycle, higher level trim feel to the selector knob and steering wheel, aero-style wiper blade housings and sports patterned cloth seats. The Sports+ one-ups these with advanced smart cruise control, a pedestrian and cycle recognition system called AEB Fusion 11, dual zone climate control with rear seat vents, leather style trim and LED DRLs.The interior has been given more than a facelift as well. Higher grade plastics, a dash console mounted screen, a redesigned look overall bring a strengthened interior presence to the updated exterior packaging. Shoulder and leg room has increased, with the rear seat going to 906mm. There’s been a reshaping of the armrests whilst the boot gets an increase to 502L thanks to the extension of the tail. There is an extended body length, a steeper rake to the windscreen, a five millimetre increase in height, and a revamp of the Cerato’s front end. A re-emphasised “tiger grille”, redesigned air intakes, and for the Sports+ a Stinger related design cue for the DRLs. There are also enhancements to the shoulder line and tail lights.A $1000 Option Pack 1 will add Fusion II AEB, Smart Cruise Control (not available on S Manual), Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Folding Mirrors and leather steering wheel to S and Sport models. Option Pack 2 will add Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to Sport+ for $500 (the other features are standard on Sport+).Ride and handling have been fettled and done in conjunction with Kia Australia’s engineering team. A sixteen percent stiffer body contributes and a modified electric motor assistance system reduces the artificial feeling previously reported. Suspension settings have also been re-rated for a better ride.

Kia will be supplying the new Cerato range for review from the end of July.

2018 Kia Rio SLi: Car Review.

Kia‘s evergreen slightly bigger than small car, the Rio, has had a mild revamp inside and out for 2018. LED DRLs, digital radio, a reprofiled front bar are the obvious changes. And priced from $22,990 RRP plus $520 for premium paint, it’s not a bank buster either.It’s the solid, trusty, dependable 1.4L MPI petrol engine we’ve come to know and….love is far too strong a word. Like sounds fair. There’s 74kW of peak power and 133Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. On their own, they’re reasonable numbers from a non forced induction 1.4L. However there’s also the same four speed auto that continues to hold back the Rio. Surely by now there’d be something in the Kia/Hyundai parts bin to change to a five or preferably six speed auto. The fall-off between gears is just that little bit too much for a car in the late part of the 21st century’s second decade. In shorter words, it’s time to modernise.Although the engine itself is a willing revver, spinning easily through the range in Neutral, third and fourth showcase just how much they hold the 1.4L back, and also just how much more economy could be wrung out of it. Kia’s figures say 6.2L per 100 km from the 45L tank on regular ULP. With 110 km/h seeing 3000rpm on the tacho, those extra mid range cogs would could see the ratio in the final drive changed and drop the revs to a potentially more usable and frugal number, especially given the kerb weight of 1162kg for the auto. The auto will also tow up to 800 kilograms.That said it’s a lovely little driver with slightly heavy steering, a somewhat softish road ride which may have been down to the 195/55/16 Kumho rubber, however it’s stable enough in its handling. Freeway conditions have the petite 4065mm using its 2580mm wheelbase absorbing most of the irregularities and the well damped McPherson strut front is more than capable of dealing with anything that causes bump steer. But neither is it a sports car, and the slowish steering rack reflects that.The interior sees the information and entertainment seven inch touchscreen move from an integrated into the dash location to a standalone unit mounted high in the dash itself, much like the new Stinger. Charging for phones etc comes courtesy of a pair of 12V sockets up front, a USB port, and one for the rear seat passengers. There’s a sunroof , UV protected glass for the front passengers, alloy sports pedals, cloth covered seats with a higher grade material (man made leather with perforations) than the S and Si, and what Kia calls a “super vision instrument cluster”. Nup, neither do I.Dash plastics and trim are a blended mix of soft touch plastics and a gunmetal hue to the dashboard strips. If anything, it misses out on the current design ethos of a sweeping arch that brings the door trims into the dash as one curve. Bottle holders number four, one in each door, the touchscreen in the Si and SLi has DAB and satnav as standard, plus both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the three trim levels. Bluetooth is, of course, standard and there’s address book and media streaming capability.There’s plenty of room inside, with Kia’s typically efficient packaging providing space for four comfortably, enough front leg room for people up to six feet tall, however the rear seat leg room becomes tight when the seats are pushed back.Outside it’s a redesign for the front and rear, with the tail light cluster bringing in the neon light look. The front has a solid bar framed in chrome in the Schreyer nose grille, reprofiled headlights with circulat LED driving lights, globes in the lower corners, and the roofline has been flattened for a sharper look. The hatch door is more upright and allows access to a 325L or 980L cargo space with the rear 60/40 split fold seats down. The SLI has 16 inch wheels, with the S and Si rolling on 15s. The test car was clad in Signal Red, with Clear White, Silky Silver, Platinum Graphite, Aurora Black Pearl, Smoke Blue, and Mighty Yellow available.There’s Kia’s standard seven year warranty which is bolstered by a high standard of safety across the range. Hill Start Assist, reverse parking guidelines, and six airbags are standard but there’s no autonomous emergency braking or a driver’s kneebag. Kia also supply a space saver spare, not a full sizer.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Rio really is a car with pootential but that four speed auto is an anchor. With other manufacturers using a CVT or changing to a turbocharged three cylinder with a broader range of torque, the Rio, as good a car as it is, is in danger of being left behind. The update outside and in do refresh the Rio into a handsome looker however a savvy driver will overlook this. Details of Kia’s updated Rio are here: 2018 Kia Rio range

2018 Kia Stinger Si V6 and GT-Line Turbo Four: Car Review

There’s been few cars released into the automotive market that have divided opinions as much as the new 2018 Kia Stinger. Available in three trim levels and with a choice of two engines mated to the single transmission offered, an eight speed auto, the Stinger spent a fortnight with me, in V6 twin turbo Si and top of the range GT-Line turbo four.The Si sits in the middle of the V6 range and is priced at $55990 plus on roads and options. The GT-Line with the turbo four is the same price and came clad in a gorgeous $695 option Snow White Pearl paint. There’s the standard seven year warranty and capped price servicing over the seven years, with the V6 being a total of $221 over the turbo 4.The V6 is the driver’s pick and backing up the four straight after sees it suffer in comparison. The 3.3L capacity V6 has a peak power figure of 272 kW at 6000 rpm and a monstrous 510 Nm of torque from 1300 to 4500. The four in comparison is 182 kW at 6200 rpm, and maxes out a torque figure of 353 Nm between 1400 to 4000 rpm. Although the V6 has a tare weight of 1780 kilos versus the four’s 1693 kg, it gets away cleaner and quicker, overtakes quicker, and will comfortably beat the four to the ton. Surprisingly, the required fuel is standard ULP and comes from a 60L tank.

Consumption is quoted for the V6 as 10.2L/14.9L/7.5L per hundred for the combined/urban/highway. The four isn’t much better, at 8.8L/12.7L/6.5L. AWT’s final figure for the six was 11.6L/100 km and for the four a slightly more reasonable 9.3L. These figures are slightly disturbing, in all honesty, as they’re more or less line-ball with the V8 engine seen in Holden’s VF Commodore and over the slightly bigger naturally aspirated 3.6L V6.There is a trade-off for that consumption and in the case of the V6 it’s the extraordinary driveability it offers. Off the line, and bear in mind it does offer Launch Control, it’ll see the 100 kmh mark in a quoted 4.9 seconds. There’s absolutely no doubt in that claim apart from a possibility it’s conservative. On a 48 hour trip to Dubbo in the central west of New South Wales, those 510 torques were so very useable in overtaking, with times to get up and pass and doing so safely compressed thanks to that torque.By having such an amount available through so many revs makes general, every day, driving unbelievably easy, with such a docile nature it’ll happily potter around the suburbs as easily as it will stretch its legs out in the country. The throttle setup is responsive to a thought, and there’s a real sense of urgency in how it all happens. There’s a bi-modal exhaust and this cracks a valve in the rear pipes allowing a genuine crackle and snarl from over 2500. Otherwise it’s a vacuum cleaner like woofle that can become wearying very quickly.The four, as mentioned, suffers in comparison, lacking the outright flexibility the bigger engine has. Note: “in comparison”. On its own the 2.0L turbo four, as found in the Optima GT and the sibling Sonata from Hyundai, is a belter. Paired against the big brother 330 it is slightly slower, slightly less able, slightly less quick to get going from a good prod of the go pedal as it waits for the turbo to spool up. Overseas markets do get a diesel and this is potentially the engine that Kia should replace the petrol four with. As long, as long, as it offers comparable performance to the V6.

The eight speed auto in both cars is a simple joy to use. All of the words that mean slick and smooth can be used here. Changes are largely unfelt, rarely does the backside feel anything other than forward motion as the ratios change. And naturally there’s different drive modes. Comfort is the default with Eco, Sports, Custom (GT-Line) and Smart the others and accessed via a dial in the console. However, somewhat confusingly, you can access a menu via the seven or eight inch (trim level dependent) touchscreen and set the steering to Sports, engine/transmission to Sport, and suspension to Sport yet have the driver’s display show Comfort from the dial setting.In Sport, the transmission doesn’t change any more cleanly but will hold revs longer and feels as if the shift points themselves change. There’s no manual shift mode as such; what this means is that the gear selector doesn’t have a side push or buttons to do a manual change. There are paddle shifts and once used doesn’t stay in manual mode but reverts quickly back to auto. What this means for the driver is simple piece of mind and not having to worry which mode the transmission is still in.Roadholding and handling from both was nigh on nearly impeccable. BUT, and it’s an odd one, the V6’s mechanical limited slip differential rear had more of a propensity for skipping sideways even on flat and relatively settled surfaces. A slight bump, a ripple, and the rear would move just enough to alert you of it. The Stinger has a big footprint though, with a 2905mm wheelbase inside the 4830mm overall length.Track front and rear also helps at over 1650mm minimum, as do the offset tyres of 225/40 & 255/35 on 19s for the Si and GT-Line six and GT-Line four. The others have 225/45/18s. And it’s McPherson struts front matching the Aussie tuned multilink rear that provide the superb roadholding the Stinger exhibits. The steering is precise, well weighted, en pointe, and tells you exactly how the road is feeling.There’s Launch Control on board as well and it’s a fairly simple matter to engage. Traction control gets turned off, the car must be in Sports mode, AND the computer must be happy with the engine temperature. It’ll also limit the amounts of attempts. Brakes in the V6 come courtesy of Brembo, however seats of the pants says the brakes in the four cylinder equipped Stinger are just as able.Design wise the Stinger foreshadows and continues a coupe like look for a five door sedan or four door hatchback. It’s a long, flat, E-Type-ish bonnet that has two faux vents. Apart from aesthetic reasons they’re pointless. Why? Because there’s vents in the front bumber into the wheelwell and from the rear of the wheelwell that exits from vents in the front doors. The roofline tapers back in a gentle curve before terminating in a rear that’s a cross between an Audi A5 and Maserati. The rear lights themselves are Maserati and LED lit front and rear in the GT-Line. Inside there’s plenty of legroom in the rear, a slightly compromised cargo space at 406L due to the hatchback style, a power gate for the GT-Line, and a stylishly trimmed interior. Plastics, for the most part, look high quality, and the overall presence echoes something from Europe, perhaps Jaguar, in this case. The central upper dash mounted seven inch touchscreen that looks as if it rises and falls, ala Audi, for example. It’s mostly intuitive, clean to read and use, but sensitivity needs to be upped as sometimes two or three taps were required to activate a menu. There’s DAB radio and here there’s a minor hiccup.With other brands tested with a DAB tuner, in comparison the one used in the Stinger also lacked the sensitivity found in others, with dropouts in more areas in comparison. There’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus voice recognition, with the middle and top range Stingers having nine or fifteen speakers with under front seat subwoofers. Harman Kardon is the feature brand in the GT-Line. As an overall presentation is pretty damned good, yet there’s still a sense of, in the top of the range GT-Line especially, that it lacks a knockout punch, and doesn’t seem to visually say this is a premium vehicle.The menu system on the touchscreen includes safety options such as voice warning for school zones, merging lanes and such like. Although an eminently worthwhile feature it became tiresome very quickly. Thankfully the voice presentation can be deactivated. Extra safety comes in the form of a forward camera and 360 degree camera depending on the model. The 360 degree version superimposes a Stinger top down view into the picture on one side of the screen and shows whichever camera view selected in the other. It’s super clear and immensely handy for parking. Another Euro feature is the rocker and Park button design for the gear selector. Foot on brake, press a tab on the selector, rock forward for Reverse or back for Drive. Inexplicably, the GT-Line had more issues correctly selecting Reverse or Drive.Only the driver’s seat is electrically powered however both front seats are vented but only in the GT-Line (for the Australian market, this is a must) and heated. A slight redesign has these operated via simple console mounted rocker switch that lights blue for venting, red for heating. Across the range they’re supportive, comfortable, and do the job well enough, along with the ride quality, that you can do a good country drive and feel reasonably good at the break. The GT-Line also features two position memory seating and a pad for smartphone wireless charging for compatible smartphones. It’s a leather clad tiller and the GT-Line gets a flat bottomed one but the material felt cheap, as did the buttons under the three central airvents in comparison to the good looking interior design.Even the base model is well equipped for safety; there’s seven airbags for all models, front seatbelt pretensioning, pedestrian friendly AHLS or Active Hood Lift System before moving to Lane Keeping Assist and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (with forward collision alert and autonomous braking) in the V6 Si. The GT-Line gets Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist, and Dynamic Bending Headlights.Naturally there’s Kia’s class leading seven year warranty and the fixed priced servicing. The turbo four is cheaper from start to finish, with a gap of just three dollars for the first, two for the second, before the third service opens it to fifty. The final service sits at $785 for the V6 and $696 for the four.

At The End Of The Drive.
The easiest way to consider this is that, as a first attempt, Kia have just about nailed it. Just about. It’s a big car, seats four beautifully, rides as good as one should expect, goes like a scared rabbit in the V6 and a not quite so scared rabbit in the turbo four, is well equipped, and is utterly competitive for the features on price. Its biggest sticking point is one that’s completely inescapable and has already caused derision and division. It’s this: KIA.

Far too many people have locked themselves into the thought process that says Korea can’t built a competitor for the outgoing Commodore or the fading from memory Falcon. Ironically, as many have pointed out, detractors will have typed their sneering comments on a Korean built phone or have a Korean built TV. It’s also not unexpected that those slinging arrows from afar wouldn’t avail themselves of the opportunity to test drive. More fool them.

However, for a first attempt, like any first attempt, there’s room for improvement. A lift in presence to say more how the car should be perceived is one, and fuel efficiency needing a VAST improvement is another. The last one is something both Kia’s marketing gurus and Australia’s luddites need to work on. That’s that a Kia CAN be this damned good. The 2018 Kia Stinger is that damned good car.