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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 SsangYong Rexton Limited.

This Car Review Is About: The redesigned SsangYong Rexton. It’s part of a three model range from the Korean car maker, with the Musso and Tivoli the other two. The Tivoli is to be replaced by a name semi-familiar to Australians in the form of Korando. Under The Bonnet Is: A diesel engine for the Limited. The Euro6 compliant 2.2L pumps 133kW and 420Nm through a Mercedes sourced eight speed auto, down to the rear wheels or all four in a high and low range choice. The transfer case is engaged via an electronically operated system, accessed by a jog dial in the console. The torque is available from 1600 through to 2600rpm. Go for the petrol fed powerplant in the lower models and the gearbox is from Aisan.

Combined fuel consumption is rated as 10.4L/100km, with 13.9L/100km in the urban drive cycle. Get out on the highway and SsangYong says 8.4L/100km. We finished on 10.9L/100km from the 70L tank for a mainly urban drive.

On The Inside Is: A superbly appointed cabin, complete with a diamond stitched quilt pattern in the leather adorning the seats and dash. There is a splash of faux wood in a grey plastic which both contrasts and complements, somehow, the dash design. Otherwise, there is a swathe of alloy hued accents in the doors housing the tweeters for the sound system and the three memory settings for the driver’s seat. The seats themselves are super comfortable, with plenty of padding and support. Heating and venting is a smart choice for the Australian spec cars and there’s heating to a Goldilocks temperature steering wheel. It’d be even better if the tiller itself was thicker to hold. It’s a seven seater too, with the third row fully folding and easy to operate via the pull strap system. The rear windows have privacy glass and do a great job of keeping Sol’s UV rays at bay from the side.

The centre dash section is akin to the other Korean brands. A clean layout to the switchgear for the anciliary controls and again in an alloy look adds an extra touch of class. The eight inch touchscreen looks good but doesn’t have satnav, nor does the audio side feature DAB. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay stand up to offer those services instead. The driver has a full colour screen as well, and the speedometer offers three different looks, along with tyre pressures, audio, and more. The gear selector has a toggle switch for manual shifts, and its both plasticky in feel and a little awkward to operate. There’s also a 360 degree camera view system installed and Rexton gets LED lights inside and out, including the glowing sill plates.The rear and middle rows get their own aircon controls, with the cargo section seats having a simple dial and a pair of twist operated vents. There’s a separate cargo cover that’s a bit fiddly to operate. The centre row gets an additional extra, a power socket that for the Aussie market needs an adaptor if you’re looking to plug in a cooling unit or a generator. A cooling unit isn’t a bad idea, in context, as the full length glass roof in the Limited has a thin white cloth shade and heat builds up quite easily.On The Outside:Is a completely revamped look. It’s not unfair to say the SsangYongs seen previously were ugly, very ugly. The Rexton looks more like a “traditional” SUV and is a big unit at that. It stands over 1.8m, is knocking on the five metre long mark, and is close to two metres wide. This adds up to plenty of interior space and an imposing presence on road. Rubber is big and comes from Kumho. Wheels are chromed alloys and the package on the Limited is 255/50/20.

The doors and wing mirrors feature LED lighting and the headlights have high intensity discharge lamps, as well as LED driving lights. It’s a far more cohesive look than the previously far too angular version Black urethane highlights the wheel arches and joins each end along the body. Some gentle curves in the sheetmetal lend an extra softness to the look, and draw the eye towards the front doors. The rear door is power operated and opens up to reveal a maximum of 1806L of space when the rear and centre rows are folded. Access to the centre and front seats is easy thanks to the wide opening doors but a little bit of gymnastics is required otherwise to enter the rear.Out On The Road It’s: An 80/20 mix. Eighty percent pretty good, dragged back by the twenty percent not so. Of real note is the horrendous lag from a standing start. Even though there is 420Nm available from just 1600rpm, getting the engine and turbo to spool up feels like watching paint trying to dry on a damp autumnal day. It’s an unusual feeling considering most diesels now don’t have that gap between the press of the pedal and forward motion. Once on tap though, the Rexton, which weighs around 2100kg, has some seriously good hustle.Load up the go pedal with a heavy right foot, and the drive system gets that 420Nm through to the rear rubber which will happily chirp the tune of wheelspin momentarily. The traction control gives it a second or two before there is the briefest of powerflow interruptions and the big rubber hooks up. The steering then becomes the second part of the equation. It’s a loosely connected sensation, with what feels like a half turn for a quarter turn of the front wheels left and right. There is a mechanical feeling to it, with a sensation of no damping in the setup. This means that the road surface and the engine’s vibrations are transmitted through and there is extra steering movement and adds a measure of twitchiness.

The ride is on the hard side, but doesn’t mean it’s either sporting or uncomfortable. Flat roads are great but find a bump or ridge and there’s less than expected give in the way the body rebounds. Think of the bump-thump your car has and add extra bump. It also means that body roll is virtually existent and the more rapid changes of direction have the Rexton Limited sitting flat. It’s a coil sprung front and a multi-link rear.Braking becomes the last part of that 20%, with a lack of feedback, a soft travel, and a real need to press down to get a sense of retardation. Along with the turbo lag, it adds up to needing to plan a little more than should be needed when it comes to moving the big machine around. Balancing that is the excellent response to the accelerator. When the revs are right in the sweet spot, response time is on point, and the Mercedes sourced seven speeder slurs through efficiently, quickly, quietly.

What About The Safety? No problems here. AEB and Forward Collision Warning go hand in hand, as do Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection. Lane Change Assist and High Beam Assist, along with a full suite of airbags including kneebag for the driver ensure the Rexton Limited is a safe office. Tyre pressure monitoring is on board and available as a visual option in the driver’s display.And The Warranty?There has to be something in the water in Korea, as SsangYong go up against Kia by offering seven years. Whack on unlimited kilometres, a good service schedule and pricing, plus seven years of roadside assistance.

At The End Of The Drive:If there’s any real indication of Korean car companies improving quicker than anticipated, it’s SsangYong. Given what the brand offered just a few years ago across the range, this car, the Rexton Limited, and the others such as the Musso four door ute and Tivoli small SUV, to be replaced by the shape of Korando, the brand is on a sharply upwards inclined trajectory. Ignore this one at your peril. Here is where to find out more.

Hyundai Kona Electric Is Revealed.

Hyundai Australia has teased and drip-fed information about the fully electric Kona, and now have provided a full overview. There are two crucial points in the information, with the first being the expected usable range from a full charge. That’s 449km. The second is the retail price. That’s $59,990 plus on road and government costs.80% charge from zero can be reached in as little as 54 minutes when plugged into a 100kWh charger, otherwise will take longer from the more easily accessible charging stations and from a home based charger. A 50kWh charger will take 75 minutes to reach 80% whilst the onboard 7.2kWh charger will take over nine hours using a domestic current setup.Power and torque from the 64kWh battery powered motor is substantial. It’s rated at 150kW, and 395Nm of torque. They’re good enough to get the Kona Electric to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds. Drive is via a single gear style transmission, and the Kona Electric has a regenerative system that can be adjusted on the fly via the paddle shifters. Smart technology allows the driver to bring the vehicle to a stop simply by holding the left paddle.There will be two model levels, the Elite and Highlander. Both will have the same drivetrain. Both will feature the same high specification safety package as well. Called SmartSense it features Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control with a Stop and Go function, and a Driver Attention Warning to alert drivers of potential fatigue.

Lane Keep Assist, Blind Sport Collision Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning will also be standard. Also standard will be DAB+ pumping through an eight speaker Infinity system, Apple CarPLay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and accessed via an 8.0 inch touchscreen. Highlander gains wireless charging for compatible smartphones, a glass roof, powered front seats with venting and heating, and a heated tiller. Extra tech comes in the forms of a Head Up Display, High Beam Assist, LED lighting front and rear, and a frontal park assist system. Hyundai Auto Link, a smart app, allows owners to stay in contact and monitor their car. A SIM module is required for the Kona Electric.The exterior has some discernible changes compared to its petrol powered sibling, notably the closed in front end. The rear bumper has been reprofiled for better airflow, and the rear lower lights have been given a change too. Wheels will be 17 inches in diameter. A choice of six colours (metallic is a $595 option), Galactic Grey and Phantom Black, Ceramic Blue, Pulse Red, Lake Silver and Chalk White, come with choices (depending on exterior colour) of interior trim. and a no cost two-tone body & roof option on Highlander will be made available.

Ride quality should be on point, thanks to the local engineering and development team. An independent multi-link rear and MacPherson strut front have been fettled to suit the weight and balance of the battery powered Kona. 15 front and 22 rear suspension designs were looked at, along with six spring and damper combinations.Andrew Tuitahi, the Hyundai Motor Company Australia Senior Manager of Product Planning said:“The low centre of mass brings lots of benefits that seem obvious, but also many challenges that were new to us. This demanded different damper design and spring choices, to the end that Kona Electric shares very little in its ride and handling package with its petrol-powered sibling.”“The Kona Electric powertrain and weight distribution required a very different approach to tuning compared with the conventionally engined Kona, and naturally defined a different brief.” He also said: “The powertrain is so silky-smooth and quiet, we felt that it demanded a smooth and quiet ride quality to match. In meeting our standard for comfort and dynamic ability, the vehicle we have ended up with is full of character and charm.”

Here and there are aspects of weight saving, such as the alloy front control arms, Advanced High Strength Steel (10% lighter and twice as rigid as normal mild steel), plus adhesives to back up welding points.

Servicing is every 15,000 kilometres and comes with a fixed $165 cost. The abttery comes with a 8 year or 160,000 kilometre warranty. Contact your Hyundai dealer for more details.

Kia Drops Optima, Hyundai Unveils Sister Sonata.

Kia Australia has announced that the under-performing Optima is to be dropped from the Australian lineup. With the medium car segment shrinking and Optima moving just 54 units in January and February of 2019, the handsome and stylish front wheel drive machine is destined to be deleted as a sales choice by year’s end. However, as good a car as it is with a superb ride and sharp handling, the fact that the sales of the bigger Stinger have increased, and with close to 2000 units moved last year, but just eight percent of those being the sparkling turbo four as found in the Optima, the Optima’s future is clouded.

Kia itself has declared its electric intent, with the Soul looking to move to a purely electric platform. The petrol version’s sales has collapsed, and rather than continue with either the petrol or hybrid versions, as another small SUV is planned for Australia, Kia Australia will trial the Soul as a battery powered option only. Kia has also waved goodbye to the almost invisible Rondo.The newly updated Cerato hatch and sedan have grown in size, and by becoming closer overall to the Optima, and now packing turbo engines in the GT options, have given buyers a choice largely no longer taken up in the medium sedan segment.Kia’s majority shareholder owner, Hyundai, has unveiled their new Sonata though. Sister car to the Optima, the 2020 Sonata debuts a new design and features a more coupe styling. The rear features lights that do more than nod towards a Swedish influence, whilst the new nose has strong influences from the European mainland makers. Inside Hyundai have moved towards the Japanese and European high dash mounted screen as seen in Audi and Lexus, for two examples.Overall height is down by 30mm, whilst overall width is up by 25mm. This gives the 2020 Sonate a sleeker and more purposeful stance on road. That’s helped by a longer body and wheelbase of 45mm and 35mm respectively.

The current expected release date is in late 2019.

Car Review: 2019 Kia Carnival Platinum Petrol

This Car Review Is About:
The 2019 model year Kia Carnival Platinum with 3.3L V6 engine. It’s also available with a torquey 2.2L diesel. The car reviewed was priced at $60,290, plus $695 for premium paint, plus on road costs.Under The Bonnet Is:
Kia’s well sorted and rorty 3.3L V6. It produces 206kW at 6,000rpm, and will twist out 336Nm at 5,200rpm. The diesel, in comparison, has 147kW, and 440Nm, with the latter on tap between 1,750rpm and 2,750rpm. Economy is rated as 10.8L of regular unleaded from the 80L tank for every 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. Urban and highway are 14.5L and 8.7L per 100 kilometres for the 2,094 kilogram machine before fuel and passengers. Towing is 2,000 kilos, braked.Transmission is also well sorted, with eight forward cogs. Although not quite as smooth overall as General Motors’ ripper nine speed, it’s not that far behind in overall refinement.On The Inside Is:
What a proper people mover should be all about. With the rise of faux people movers masquerading as SUVs, Kia’s Carnival shows them how it’s done. Two up front, three in the middle on sliding seats, and three in the rear, and still with room enough. Overall length of 5,115mm starts the party and continues with a 3,060mm wheelbase.Storage is 960L with all three rows of seats up, with 2,220L or 4,022L depending on second and third row seats being folded down. Access is via a powered tailgate or powered sliding doors, with the remote key fob opening and closing either. The rear and centre row seats aren’t quite as intuitively friendly to operate as some others, ditching a pullstrap style at the rear in favour of a more complicated handle pull and lift arrangement, with the centre a little more fussy in operation also. Front and second row seats are vented and heated, for good measure. Kia’s brochure doesn’t specifically mention head/leg/shoulder room, but there’s more than enough space for anyone not named Dwayne Johnson.

The seat material was a mix of black and light grey leather which matched the upper and lower trim colours. Rear and centre row seats have independent aircon controls and vents. Smart devices have 3 USB ports and 3 12V sockets from which to be charged from, however there is no separate wireless charge pad.Kia says there are ten cup holders, with two up front, in the centre, and two on the centre row seat back, with four more for the third row. The front and sliding doors have a bottle holder each. The centre console also has a link to the aircon system with a coolbox there.

The Kia Carnival has ditched the seven inch touchscreen for an eight inch. It houses satnav, DAB, Bluetooth streaming, and the apps for additional features via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The safety menu has a wide array of information assistance including school zone awareness and narrow roads. All can be disabled should the slightly strident voice become too overbearing.The driver gets a polished wood trim look and leather tiller, with the hub holding Kia’s standard rollers and tabs to access ound and 3.5 inch centre dash screen info. Unusually the Platinum version stays with a full analogue dial display, with that centre screen the only digital part.

Ergonomics are pretty much Kia’s normal quality, that is to say “instinctive”. Auto headlights and dusk sensing wipers are standard also. What is also standard is a 360 degree camera system, allowing a selection of views around the big machine.What About Safety?
Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning are standard. Rear Cross Traffic Alert adds to the overall package nicely. There are roof mounted, side mounted, and front mounted airbags but no driver’s kneebag. There are three ISOFIX mounts for child seats along with the older tether type.

The Outside Has:
Not changed for a few years now. It’s still a handsome beast, with a broad, stocky look. The exterior colours are few, with just six to choose from. Deep Chroma Blue was the provided colour, with Clear White, Panthera Metal, Silky Silver, Snow White Pearl, and Aurora Black available. Carnival Platinum rolls on easy clean chrome alloys, with 235/55/19 the dimensions and rubber from Nexen.Quad cased LED driving lights in the lower front corners along with standard LED driving lights that wrap around the headlights balance LED tail lights.

On The Road It’s:
Starting to show a little bit of age. As good and as supple the suspension is, it’s noticeably unsettled by lateral movements thanks to road expansion joints. The MacPherson strut/multi-link combo is fine in a straight line, will deal with being thrown into corners (considering the two tonne plus mass), but as long as there are no imperfections, it’s a very good gripper. It’s predictable in its handling across all sorts of driving situations, and will understeer on a nicely consistent, easily controllable, basis.

Like all weighty petrol fed cars, it needs a good poking to get moving. When a hasty departure isn’t required it will quietly purr away from the line but with the solid hint there’s mass to pull around. Amp it up and the muted snarl gets a little fiercer, a little angrier, and the metallic keen gets more noticeable as the spinning numbers get higher.The auto is mostly en pointe, but is prone to some lurching between gears, an occasional bang as the foot comes off the accelerator and momentarily has the electronics vagued out. There was some dithering between gears on light to moderate acceleration, and changes aren’t as silky smooth as expected, with minor but noticeable body movement fore and aft as they changed.

A positive is the wind resistance; with the flat, broad, sheetmetal, cross breezes would be fairly expected to move the Carnival around. In a brewing storm, perhaps, but with some stiff breezes encountered the Carnival remained stable on road.

The Warranty Is:
Kia’s seven year warranty and service costs package. First service is 15,000 kilometres or one year and is priced at $356.00. Year four is $689.00 and year six the other big one at $679.00. Check with your Kia dealer about associated services for warranty and serving issues.

At The End Of The Drive.
There is a possible update for the Carnival allegedly due in late 2019. If the facelifts to Cerato are any indication, it’ll further enhance the already not unattractive looks of the Carnival. Where it really wins is in the slowly growing “why buy a SUV when there are people movers?” movement. It’s a proper eight seater, even if row three might be a bit cramped depending on who sits there. There’s plenty of room, and tech,and plenty of street appeal.

Kia’s Carnival continues to win awards, but more importantly continues to win hearts. Here is where you can find more about the 2019 Kia Carnival.

 

Kia Is Turbocharged: Kia Picanto GT and Cerato GT

Kia’s news of late 2018 about the addition of two new turbocharged cars to the range has been confirmed. Kia Australia recently released details of the Kia Picanto GT and Kia Cerato GT.The Picanto model is almost an oddity in the Australian market, yet it has a fiercely loyal following. That dedication is sure to grow now it has a 1.0L, three cylinder petrol engine and turbo that produces 74kW and a handy 172Nm. Transmission is a five speed manual. Handling has been fettled with the MacPherson struts and torsion beam rear getting some extra attention.Springs were given a stiffer rate, the shocks a different absorption rate, with the end result even less body roll, better ride comfort, and better control. Rolling stock has been upped to 16 inch alloys, with 195/45 rubber aiding grip.But the centre piece is the revamped engine. The turbo’s wastegate is electrically controlled for more precise monitoring, re-using clean air for better efficiency. An integrated one piece exhaust manifold reduces weight, provides better component sealing, and brings down exhaust temperatures.All up, it sees a quoted combined fuel consumption of 4.8L/100km, with urban running at 6.2L/100km. Along with niceties such as Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, body work, and a revamped body structure, the ask of $17,990 is a real bargain.

The Cerato has also been given a turbo, and the hatch has been re-added to the range. In a 1.6L capacity and a $31,990 driveaway price, the extra poke and suspension work sees the Cerato sharply positioned to further increase its market share.Having 150kW is one thing, as that’s produced at 6000rpm. It’s the spread of torque, 265Nm worth, that will make it a driver’s car. That;s available between 1500 – 4500 rpm, a flat delivery across a very useable rev range. That’s powered through to the ground via the front wheels and a seven speed DCT or dual clutch transmission. Wheels are 18 inches in diameter, with 225/40Z Michelin rubber.A slightly bigger overall body has an added increase in luggage room. That’s gone up by 84L to 741L when measured using the SAE. Wheelbase, though, has remained the same. Underneath the svelte body is a redesigned subframe, with stiffness up by 16 per cent. The steering system has been reworked to further lessen that detached, artificial, feel.Contact Kia Australia via their website for further information.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Optima Si

Kia’s once large sedan contender has been overshadowed by the Stinger, itself an excellent and vastly underrated vehicle. The Optima, though, remains the hidden gem in the bigger sedan family and the updated 2019 Kia Optima Si still impresses. The test car provided comes at a cost of $33,390, paint at $595 for premium paint, making the test car $33,985 plus on-roads.Power comes courtesy of a naturally aspirated 2.4L four for the Si or a turbocharged 2.0L four for the GT. Peak power is 138kW at 6000rpm, with peak torque a reasonable 241Nm. That comes in at 4000rpm, with a steady curve to there from idle. Powering the front wheels via a six speed auto that’s been slightly recalibrated for 2019, Kia quotes a combined fuel economy figure of 8.3L/100km from the 70 litre tank inside the 1540kg (dry) Optima.Rubber is from Continental, with Kia specifying their ContiPremiumContact5 at 215/55/17. It’s a grippy choice, with the front driven Optima making good use of the tyre’s adhesion. During the week’s review period, Sydney had both summer and winter driving conditions. The Continental rubber powered through both with equal levels of confidence. They also coped with the Si’s propensity to torque steer, an unusual sensation in an age where that quirk of front-wheel-drive cars is almost non-existent.Suspension is the proven combination of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear. The suspension has been massaged for the 2019 Optima, with the dampers erring towards the sporting side, a choice that sporting drivers will enjoy. Others may find that a little too severe. Indeed, on Sydney’s mix of unsettled and undulating roads as opposed to the new and smooth tarmac found in roadworks, the Optima Si had no issue in equalising both into a comfortable and composed ride. The only time PF semi-wished for a softer setup was over the bedamned shopping centre and local residence speed restrictors.The setup provides a nimble and communicative chassis. Steering input is received and processed quickly, with rapid changes of direction. Body roll is minimal, and the overall feel of the body is one of connection, not isolation from the road and its varying conditions. The steering is also relatively free from bump-steer.

Overall drive response is perhaps also not for those that aren’t of a sporting bent. The throttle response is virtually instant, with a “light-switch” feel. Tap the accelerator pedal and the engine engages instantly; go off, and it responds by damping down the revs quickly. It does take a bit of practice to get the smooth and progressive acceleration less responsive systems have. It’s a free revving engine, too, eagerly spinning around and bringing with it a steady rate of urge. It’s a tad buzzy past 4000rpm but that’s a rarity in seeing those numbers in normal driving. The transmission is a simply gorgeous piece of engineering, with invisible, seamless, changes. There’s no real sense of transition between ratios at all, with zero forward and back bodily movement as the cogs swap quietly and efficiently.Kia’s efficiency in packaging is in abundance in the Optima Si. Inside the 4855mm overall length, (yep, just 8.4 centimetres shorter than a VF Commodore) is a 2805mm wheelbase. That’s just eleven centimetres shorter than the Commodore’s. This equates to ample leg room front and rear, a luggage space of 450L (SAE measurement, 510L VDA, and complete with full sized spare), and 1475mm shoulder room up front. Rear seat passengers have 1432mm shoulder room and 904mm leg room.The Si has manually adjusted seats up front, with the driver getting a two position lumbar support seat. Cloth is the material of choice all round in the Si and all seats are comfortable enough to have passengers egress after a long drive feeling fine. Kia’s worked hard to make sure the cabin is a good place to be, and the quality of the fit and finish is testament to this. The trim is black, with a leather look texture, and there are subdued uses of an alloy hued plastic. The Optima has the almost standard arch sweep at the upper edge of the dash., joining in one fluid line both sides of the cabin.Switch-gear is typically clinical Kia in layout and look. The touchscreen in the Si is a seven inch unit, the GT gets an eight inch setup. Audio is AM/FM only with no DAB tuner fitted to both. The Si also misses out on satnav. However there is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with voice recognition, backed by Bluetooth streaming and the usual USB/Aux inputs. There are four cup holders and four bottle holders, map pockets, and back of seat pockets. Rear seat passengers also have a pair of charging sockets and air vents.The exterior received a mild refresh in 2018. The Schreyer grille now has an almost Maserati look to it, and the lower front bumper has been reprofiled with the lower intake now more angled in towards the corners towards deep-set cornering lights. The familiar angled headlights retain their LED driving lights and commence a long, sweeping, line to join the rear non-LED lights in the Si. The GT has LEDs here. The profile is a handsome coupe style and the test car came clad in Temptation Red.Safety is naturally of a high level with a five star rating. Lane Keep Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking are standard, with the Si not receiving Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Dusk sensing headlights are standard, as are a pair of ISOFIX seat mounts. There are six airbags and the usual mandated safety equipment levels. Parking sensors front and rear take the edge off any parking problems in those tight shopping centre carparks.The seven year warranty is standard and Kia has a seven year fixed price servicing structure, with 15,000 kilometre or one year intervals. Year one/15,000 kilometres comes in at $289, with year four the most expensive at $559.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Kia Optima Si slides unhappily, it seems, into that niche of very good cars that are largely ignored by the buying public. Sedans on the whole are a class of car that were once loved but now sit, licking their wounds from an SUV mauling, in the shadows. The Optima itself, a handsome looker, a good drive, and well equipped, suffers from a number of factors in not having the sizeable presence it once had.

Head to the Kia website for more info.

Car Review: 2019 Kia Sportage SLi Petrol & GT-Line Diesel

Kia updated their Sportage range in mid 2018 and although mainly cosmetic in nature, it keeps the range fresh. The new for 2019 Kia Sportage SLi with petrol and the diesel fueled 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line graced the driveway for a week each and both showed why they are ideally suited for their respective target markets.The GT-Line is listed at $48,210 plus on roads, the SLi at $37,310. There is a very well specified equipment list for both, including Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist now standard across the range, and a suite of GPS linked voice alerts for speed cameras, narrow roads, schools, and more. Apart from the different energy sources there are two different transmissions. Kia has kept the six speed auto for the petrol with its higher rev points for power and torque, The diesel has a new eight speed, and It’s a cracker. The 2.0L diesel has 400Nm of torque and the eight ratios are well spread to take advantage of the power and torque delivery. Torque is on tap from idle with that peak available from 1750 to 2750 rev. Peak power is 136kW and that’s at 4000rpm. The SLi is a front wheel driven unit, the GT-Line an all wheel drive setup and comes with a centre diff lock for soft-roading.The Sportage is a four model range, being Si, Si Premium, SLi, and GT-Line. The first three have a choice of 2.0L petrol engine or 2.0L diesel. The GT-Line is 2.4L petrol or 2.0L diesel. The 2.0L is a nice enough performer, with 114kW and 192Nm. This comes standard with the six speed auto. The petrol is a free revving unit and its own power and torque curve has the six speed auto running slick and smooth. Power for the 2.4L petrol is virtually identical to the diesel at 135kW however that’s at 6000rpm. Torque, naturally is a lesser peak figure and higher up the rev range, with 237Nm at 4000rpm. Kia quotes 7.9L/100km for the 2.0L, 8.5L/100km for the 2.4L, and 6.4L/100km in the diesel. The SLi finished on 8.3L/100km and the diesel finishing on 7.1L/100km, with both results from a 98% urban run. All models have a 62L tank.Driving the diesel and the new auto sees a new level of refinement from Kia. There is a distinct lack of the agricultural sound, a real feeling of smoothness, and a wave upon wave surge of torque from the engine. Cogs swap swiftly, quietly, and smartly, with the throttle sensor responding instantly to both pedal movement and information from the drive system itself. Kia has stayed with the three mode drive choice which, for both, is superfluous. From a standing start the diesel pulls the 1700kg machine away with minimal effort and minimal noise. Although front drive biased, there’s a noticeable shift of torque to the rear when the go pedal is punched. The result is rocketship acceleration, with a flicker of the needle on the tacho at around 3200 revs for the change. The extra two cogs over the six add so much extra flexibility and helps get the GT-Line to 100kph rapidly. Stopping power comes from 305mm and 302mm discs.Inside the SLi the petrol’s sound is a distant thrum, barely audible, and feels smoother than silk on ice. From a standing start it’s quiet and sometimes so inaudible there’s a glance at the tacho to ensure it’s actually spinning. Punched hard enough there’s a chirp from the front, but otherwise it’s a friendly, forgiving, machine to drive, Steering on both is a delight, with a beautiful balance and heft on the pair. There’s the barest hint of torque steer from the diesel and only under load in corners.Suspension on both is tuned to suit the audience. The SLi and GT-Line share McPherson struts and a multi-link rear, but the dampers are slightly softer on the GT-Line. Rubber is different at 225/55/18s for the SLi, 245/45/19s on the GT-Line. That extra width on the GT-Line provides a more sure footed and tenacious feel on road too. Not that the SLi is any slouch. It’s a fun car to drive too. Hit it up into a tight corner and speed and it’s flat, composed, almost begging to see more numbers on the speedo as it dares the driver. Both settle even more with a week’s worth of shopping in the 466L cargo space. That increases to 1455L if the superbly comfortable pews are lowered.

There’s a modicum of extra space inside the Sportage, with an increase of wheelbase and overall length. Wheelbase is up, from 2640mm to 2670mm. Length grows by 45mm, to 4485mm but that includes a front overhang increase of 20mm to 905mm and a rear overhang decrease of 10mm to 910mm. Overall internal measurements have headroom up by 5mm to 997mm and 993mm from 977mm front and rear. Front legroom has grown by 19mm to 1129mm, and 7mm to 970mm in the rear.

There are few changes to the exterior, the driving lights in the lower corners of the front bumper now have a horizontal line spanning the insert, and in the case of the GT-Line, splits the LED cluster. The headlight surround in the GT-Line also looks slimmer but that may be down to the LED lights and indicators. The rear of the GT-Line has LED lights, and a powered tailgate, with the tail light cluster on all models freshened up whilst adding extra visibility for safety.

There is ample leg, shoulder, and head room in the Sportage, even with the full length glass roof as fitted in the Fiery Red painted GT-Line. There are the standard pair of 12V sockets up front plus a USB. The GT-Line adds a wireless charging point for compatible smartphones and a 12V & USB socket for the rear seat passengers. The front windows in each are one touch.Equipment wise there’s little between the two. Or all four, for that matter.Consider this: standard across the range is Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Downhill Brake Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Reverse sensors, and rear camera with guidelines. The Si dips out on front sensors, and only the GT-Line gets Intelligent Parking Assist System. Specific to the GT-Line is Blind Spot Detection/Lane Change Assist/Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which complement the Advanced Smart Cruise Control. All four have High Beam Assist, dusk sensing headlights, 2 ISOFIX seat mounts, and six airbags.

Comfort comes with heated and vented front seats for the GT-Line, ten way adjustable seats in both the SLi and GT-Line, an eight inch touchscreen with DAB audio, JBL speakers, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The latter two have voice recognition to boot. All four models have dual zone aircon systems with Kia’s proprietary CleanAir Module. Trim is soft touch plastics, with an alloy look to door and dash inserts. The SLi and GT-Line also receive a 4.5 inch full colour binnacle display.Kia continues to offer its seven year warranty and capped price service. The diesel is marginally more pricy per year for servicing, with the full price over the seven years at $3580 against $2742 for the SLi’s petrol. Premium paint is a $520 option.

At The End of The Drive.
Kia’s growth in the Australian market continues to go from strength to strength on the back of the Stinger, Sorento, and Sportage. the Cerato sedan is due to be joined by a revamped hatch soon, and the recent news of turbo engines for that overseas, and for the Picanto and Rio will add extra spice to the range. In the case of the diesel GT-Line, it’ll happily be welcomed back at any time. They’re both family friendly,, roomy and comfy, and pack plenty of tech. The SLi , perhaps, should have the 2.4L as an option or even as standard, to bring it closer to the GT-Line and separate it just that bit more from the Si pairing. Either way, both are immensely good value but for the win it’s the 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel.

 

Hyundai Gets Fastback For The i30 N

Hyundai has revealed the new 2019 i30 Fastback N in Europe. The sophisticated five-door Fastback N is the second high-performance model from Hyundai’s N Performance division, following on from its sibling the i30 N hot-hatch, which arrived in Australia in March to critical acclaim. The Hyundai i30 Fastback N incorporates many of the design signatures of its hatchback sibling. The elegant i30 Fastback shape has been merged with the dynamic features of the i30 N five-door, such as the dynamic-looking N Grille, and N front and rear bumpers, both highlighted by a red character line. A blacked-out side sill further underscores the model’s sportiness.The new 2019 i30 N Features the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine first introduced in the i30 N hatchback. Like the i30 hot-hatch, the Fastback N is offered in Europe in both Standard and Performance iterations. The Standard Package engine delivers 184kW and uses 7.0L/100km on the official combined cycle. The Performance Package engine generates a maximum power of 202kW and uses 7.1L/100km on the official combined cycle.

The engine delivers a maximum torque of 353 Nm in both specifications. An overboost function further increases torque up to 378Nm and is activated when the maximum torque threshold is reached. The European i30 Fastback N with Standard Package accelerates from rest to 100 km/h in 6.4 seconds and the i30 Fastback N Performance Package version accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds. The i30 Fastback N is capable of a maximum speed of 250 km/h. The i30 Fastback N’s rear visual features a twin-muffler exhaust and a cohesive rear spoiler that flows neatly into the line of the liftback. A glossy black accent is inserted to highlight the spoiler and further develop the N performance theme.The horizontal design theme of the i30 Fastback N instrument panel conveys an elegant impression and is offered in Europe with a choice of two infotainment systems. There is a Display audio system with an eight-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen, an integrated rear-view camera and Bluetooth connectivity.

Alternatively, there is a Navigation system featuring an eight-inch capacitive touch screen and a seven-year free subscription to LIVE services. Both infotainment units feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which provide a seamless on-screen interface to users’ smartphones for the control of music, telephone or navigation functions. A specific N mode screen menu offers customisable settings for the engine, rev-matching, exhaust sound and Performance Package settings.The 2019 i30 Fastback N features Hyundai SmartSense active safety and driving assistance technologies, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver-Attention Warning, Lane-Keeping Assist, High-Beam Assist and Intelligent Speed-Limit Warning. Inspired by motor sport, the Hyundai N range was derived from the company’s successful participation in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and the Touring Car Racing (TCR) International series. The N line-up was born in Namyang, Korea, at Hyundai’s global R&D Centre, developed and tested at Germany’s infamous Nürburgring and honed to suit Australia’s uniquely challenging roads and driving conditions by the Hyundai Motor Company Australia engineering and development team.

Complete Australian pricing and specifications will be available closer to the local launch of the Hyundai i30 Fastback N in the first quarter of 2019.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Stinger GT V6

Kia is a brand on the move and stamping itself as one to watch, especially with its big, rear wheel drive, Stinger. The 2019 Kia Stinger GT is the third Stinger we’ve driven, and the second V6. It remains an intoxicating mix of technology, comfort, driveability, and sheer exhilaration.Although not quite Euro quality inside, it’s also not far from it. There’s plenty of room, plenty of technology and safety, but there’s also, still, a lingering disdain and suspicion of anything from Korea that isn’t a smartphone or TV. More’s the pity for those that choose to ignore it simply because of the three letters on the badge.Kia have developed and delivered an absolute belter of a car. Start with an alloy block V6, strap on a pair of turbochargers, and an eight speed smart transmission. Add in electronics that adjust the suspension, steering, engine and gearbox mapping. That’s good for a peak power of 272kW, with torque up to 550Nm if you believe a dash display. Kia’s official figure is 510Nm between 1300 – 4500rpm. A folder and information selector on the not overly visually inspiring tiller will show fuel economy, drive modes, radio, a G-Force & torque usage. There is also a HUD, a Head Up Display, that needs a Holden like dial to more easily switch through the available information. It’s all very usable in this first iteration of the Stinger, it just needs tweaking and it’d be a fair bet the second Stinger will be just that little bit better inside.Driver and passenger face a well thought out dash. It’s ergonomic, easy to read, but lacks a measure of class. There’s a drive mode dial in the centre console which offers Sport, Eco, Smart, Comfort, and it’s noticeable both physically and visually as it brings up a colour coded image on the large dash screen. What’s confusing is the counter-point of drive setting options available via the menu system. The dial can be set to Sport but then suspension, steering, and more can be selected to other than Sport. However, though, the font and layout of the options are again clean and simple to read.Kia stay with simplicity by offering a rocker switch for the driver and passenger seat to both heat and vent the leather bound eight way adjustable pews. Yes, vent, an amazingly overlooked part of specification for Australia. There are two memory settings for the driver’s seat as well. Smartphone access is via USB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A wireless charging pad is located next to a module housing a USB port and 12V port, plus a 3.5mm socket for external music playback should the Stinger GT be in a DAB blackspot. And as good as the sound is from the fifteen speaker Harman Kardon system, the tweeters are door, not A-pillar, mounted, meaning they’re firing into both nothing and the steering column.It has a physically imposing presence, the Stinger, especially in the deep hued metallic red the test car comes clad in (Kia doesn’t list this as a dollars option). A long bonnet and coupe rear evoke cars such as E-Type, Rapide, and with styling cues taken from Maserati in the rear quarter it’s a handsome looking machine. There’s faux bonnet vents but genuine vents in the far quarters of the LED head and driving light equipped front. They flow through to distinctive outlets and a stylish scallop in the front doors. Although a fastback coupe in profile there’s no lack of rear headroom nor lack of cargo under the powered tailgate. The rear lights are LED and will flash, Euro Style, in an emergency stop situation. The GT sports LED puddle lamps and interior lighting is LED powered as well. Overall length is 4830mm, with a wheelbase of 2905mm. Cargo beneath the powered tailgate is rated as 405L which expands to 1114L with the broad rear seats folded.Safety is a priority with the Stinger. Along with fade free Brembo stoppers, there’s a 360 degree (selectable view) camera system, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning with Adaptive Cruise Control. Lane Keep Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert go hand in hand, and there’s Blind Spot Detection, a surprisingly handy feature that many drivers need. Pedestrian safety comes in the form of Active Hood Lift System, designed to move upward should the car’s sensors detect a forward impact with something not of a car’s mass. The driver has a kneebag along with front and curtain ‘bags as well.

The colour palette has two exclusively for the GT, being Aurora Black and Snow White Pearl, colours seen on the Sorento and Cerato reviewed recently. There are also Silky Silver, Ceramic Grey, Deep Chroma Blue, Panthera Metal and Hichroma Red as seen on the test car. It’s an immaculate colour, and one that caught many, many, eyes. Inside the triple turbine design air vents catch the eye in a soft touch material surrounding and sit just below the eight inch touchscreen that’s fitted with SUNA satnav.But it’s the driving ability of the V6 Stinger that wins hearts and minds here. There’s an optionable ($2300) bi-modal exhaust mode that adds extra aural excitement from start-up. The push button Start/Stop is hidden behind the tiller’s left spoke. Punch that and there’s a whirr momentarily before the V6 fires up. There’s a “woofle” from the exhaust before the engine settles into a warm-up cycle. The gear selector is a rocker style, not a linear Park through to Drive. Park itself is a push button just north of the selector.The eight speed gearbox is better when it’s warmed up; from a cold start there’s some indecision, some stuttering, but once warmed up, and recommended when wishing to use the Launch Control function, it’s slick, smooth, and sporty. Paddle shifts become largely superfluous once it’s settled, and combined with the mighty punch of the twin turbo power-plant, it can become an intimidating machine. Launch Control is on board and is a hidden procedure involving a drive mode, and traction control.The Stinger dawdles along in relative peace and quiet around town and cuts under the official urban consumption figure from 14.1L/100km down to AWT’s urban figure of 10.1L/100km from the 60L tank. But make full use of the 510 torques and horizons become blurred and closer quickly, eyeballs meet the back of the head, and inane grins cover faces. Mid-range acceleration has the driver reaching for a thesaurus and looking for words that mean stupendous. There really is a shove back into the seats when the loud pedal is punched hard, and there’s a slight squirm and squiggle from the rear. There’s a similar experience when the dial is switched to sports mode and from a standing start a seat of the pants count says something around the five second mark to reach freeway velocities.The steering rack is quick, with fingertip sensitive response from the electrically assisted variable ratio setup. Even with the big 225/40/19 rubber up front (255/35/19 rears) there’s plenty of feedback, a lack of numbness in the rack itself, and a fluid, nimble, chassis. Driven through a valley in the lower Blue Mountains with some turns marked at 15km/h, the Stinger showcases its chassis dynamics here with aplomb. However, there is a niggle, and one shared with the smaller sibling, Cerato. Drive through a sweeping curve that has the metal expansion sections at a radiating ninety degrees from the inside to the outside, and the rear end of both cars would skip. This indicates that the lateral stability isn’t being damped down, and these are at velocities of 80 km/h.The adjustable suspension settings, which are accessible via the touchscreen, take a few moments to adjust, and it’s noticeable in way the big 1780kg plus fuel and passengers machine rides. The Comfort setting flattens irregularities, where the Sport feeds more of these through without excessive comfort loss. The steering itself has different modes and it’s fair to say the differences aren’t so noticeable. Either way, however, the Stinger is a gentle giant when driven without accessing the turbo-fed dragon lurking under the long alloy bonnet.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Kia Stinger GT is a front drive, rear wheel driven, big machine. Released into the Australian market just months after Holden and Toyota had shut the doors on making cars here, the Stinger was greeted with a mix of critical acclaim and disdain. The disdain comes mainly from those that have a “thing” about Korean cars being any good. It’s fair to say that the overwhelming majority of those would be people with a phone or TV from Korea and wouldn’t be seen dead in a Korean built vehicle. More fool them.

PF and others love the Kia Stinger, that’s obvious from the reviews world wide and as a first up model, it’s a pearler, a belter. Improvements will come, in key, and not so key, areas. For now, the Kia Stinger V6 twin-turbo GT is on the “when the lotto numbers happen” list.

Kia Australia Releases 2019 Cerato S, Cerato Sport, Cerato Sport+

The evergreen Kia Cerato sedan has been given a pretty solid makeover, with the hatch due for its own tickle and release later this year, plus GT versions for both are said to be on their way. There’s also been a range realignment name-wise.. We have driven the Kia Cerato S, Cerato Sport, and Cerato Sport+.

The Cerato S sedan starts from $23,790 plus on roads, as tested. The review car was in Steel Grey, a pleasing shade and a $520 option. The Sport was $25,790 plus on roads, clad in a gorgeous Horizon Blue, and the Sport+in Snow White Pearl came in at $28,290, plus on roads, and paint. Servicing costs are for a fixed amount over Kia’s class leading seven year warranty, and top out at $2,869.00. There’s a good range of colours available but only one is classified as a non-premium colour…If you’re after a manual, you’ll find it in the Cerato S only. You’ll also find only a 2.0L injected four cylinder across the range, with six speeds, in both auto and manual guise, hanging off of the side for the engine. It’s a peak twist of 192Nm and power is 112kW. Rev points are 4000rpm and 6200rpm respectively and there’s a noticeable increase of oomph once 3000rpm is seen on the dial. As we drove the autos only, they’re pretty much all good in the transmission sense. It’s the engine that needs refining and smoothing. See 4000rpm on the tacho and there’s a noticeable harshness and noise. It’s a metallic keen that, although somewhat raucous, is really only ever apparent when a heavy right foot is used, thankfully. It’s otherwise quiet, pleasant even.

It’s here that the auto shines. Seamless shifting when left to its own devices, it delights in its smooth and unhurried nature. Tilt the gear selector right, it goes into Sport mode, and when rocked forward and back, the changes are sharp and crisp. Acceleration in all three is enhanced by using Sport mode as the changes suit the characteristics of the engine’s tune. That engine tune helps in economy too. Kia says it’s 7.4L per 100L from the 50L tank for a combined cycle and a still too high 10.2L/100km for the urban cycle. Driven in a mainly urban environment with engines all under 3000km of age, we averaged under 7.0L/100km across the three.Road handling from the three was similar yet in one car somewhat oddly different to the others. The Sport+ rides on the same tyre and rim size as the Sport. 225/45/17 is what’s bolted to each corner and the alloys look sensational. The S has steel wheels at 16 inches, with 205/55 rubber. The S and Sport are more akin in they ride than the Sport+, with the McPherson strut front and coupled torsion bar rear feeling tighter, tauter, and less composed in the Sport+. Long sweepers with minor corrugations had the rear step out, whereas the S and Sport were less inclined to deviate. In a straight line all three sat comfortably but the Sport+ was more the princess in the bed with the pea. Minor irregularities were magnified and enhanced in the Sport+, with just that little bit more unwanted pucker factor whilst sitting on its leather clad pews. Freeway rides are tied down, there’s little to no float, and road noise is minimal thanks to extra noise reduction materials plus NVH reduction engineering. Get funky in the tighter corners in the mountain roads and handling is predictable with steering nicely weighted. Boot it out of a corner and the steering loads up and there’s no tending towards lift-off understeer.The S and Sport have cloth seats, manual adjustment, and no heating. The Sport+ has heating, no venting, and no powered front seats, an odd omission for a top of the range car. In fact, there’s really not a whole lot of difference between the three in some areas. All have the drive mode choice of Eco/Comfort/Smart with Sport engaged as mentioned. All have AEB with Forward Collision Warning – Car Avoidance, with the Sport+ getting Pedestrian and Cyclist on top plus adaptive cruise. All three have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, voice activation, and Digital radio via the eight inch screen, with the Sport+ having the same dropout issues as experienced in the Sorento. Climate control is in the Sport+, with “standard” aircon in the other two. The driver sees info via steering wheel mounted tabs on a 3.5 inch TFT screen between two standard analogue dials. Perhaps here a LCD screen for the dials would help add cachet and differentiate the the Sport+ further.All three have Blind Spot Detection as an option, as do they have Rear Cross Traffic Alert as an option. These are part of two safety packs available at a $1000 or $500 price point. All other safety systems such as Hill Start Assist are common. The Sport+ gets an electro-chromatic (dimming) rear vision mirror, LED daytime lights, push button start, centre console armrest that slides, and folding wing mirrors. It’s also the only one with an external boot release on the car. That sounds like nothing important but when you’re used to pressing a rubber tab on the boot and not using the key fob, it’s not a smart choice.What is a smart choice is the redesign outside and in. Kia’s gone with the Euro style touchscreen that stands proud of the centre dash and it looks good. There’s turbine style airvents and the Sport+ has more brightwork around these and in the cabin than the Sport and S. There’s a pair of 12V and USB ports up front, with one dedicated to charging and the other for the auxiliary audio access via the smartphone apps. Although the front screen has been moved backwards, there’s no decrease in head, shoulder, and leg room for the 4.6m long sedan. Boot space is, ahem, adequate, at 434L with a long and quite deep design, and the spare is a full sizer, albeit steel fabricated unit.Outside there’s been a major re-skin; the front screen has been moved by nearly twelve centimetres and the bonnet line has been raised. The headlight clusters flow backwards at the top into the guards, with a nod towards the Stinger in styling here. At the right angle, somewhere from the rear quarter, there’s more than a hint of a certain Japanese luxury brand too. Sport+ has LED driving lights in a Stinger like quad design around the main headlight. There’s angular vents at each front corner that house the indicators and the Sport and S have a pair of globe lit driving lights between. Rear end design has been revamped and there’s beautiful styling to the tail lights, flanks, rear window line, and an integrated lip in the boot lid itself. Reverse lights have been moved to a triangular housing in the lower corners, echoing the front and again harken to a Japanese brand. It’s a handsome and well balanced look overall.Warranty is Kia’s standard seven years and there is 24/7 roadside assistance available as well.

At The End Of The Drive.

Kia’s growth curve is strong. Its building vehicles with a good feature set, with high quality, and quietly doing so with gusto. The Cerato sedan, the latest in a range of cars that DOESN’T include a four wheel drive capable ute, is commendable for both its very good looking sheetmetal and high levels of standard equipment. What initially looks like oversights in some areas is potentially a pointer towards what will come in the Kia Cerato GT. As it stands, though, a weak link is the engine. It doesn’t feel smooth, slick, and quiet enough at revs, and for a naturally aspirated 2.0L petrol engine nowadays, a peak power of 112kW really isn’t advertising friendly. It’d be nice if the torque was available at a lower figure or if there was more of it, but for the average buyer, the main concern would be the rare occasion they’d venture into plus 3000rpm territory.

Frugal is the word that stands out here too. So bundle a good looking sedan with good petrol usage in with sharp sub $30K pricing and that feature set, and Kia is kicking goals. Kia Australia’s Cerato for 2019 is available now.