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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 SsangYong Tivoli ELX

This Car Review Is About: SsangYong’s Tivoli. SsangYong is the quiet third of a three tier car making setup from Korea. Nestled well below Hyundai and Kia, SsangYong currently have a three model range, and the Tivoli is the entry level to the brand. The Tivoli itself is based on the Kia Soul and is badged as EX, ELX, and Ultimate.
The ELX is a solid mid-level competitor in a very crowded market. Being based on the quirky looking Soul isn’t a bad thing either. SsangYong’s designers have done a good job of hiding the relationship with a heavily reworked interior and exterior. There’s no hiding that steeply raked windscreen though.Power Comes From: Behind the bluff and upright schnozz that hides a diesel or petrol powerplant. Our test car had the 1.6L diesel, a slightly chattery but butter smooth item. There’s a huge 300Nm of torque on tap between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. Peak power is just 85kW and is available from 3,400rpm to 4,000rpm. The diesel comes in 2WD or AWD for the Ultimate, and is a six speed auto only for the oiler. Economy is, unsurprisingly, pretty good for the pert little five door. Urban driving is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the 2WD version. We saw a best of 7.6L/100km in the urban cycle. Combined is 5.5L/100km and that’s without the realms of possibility. Tank size compromises range though, at just 47-L.What’s It Cost?: The range starts at a miserly $22,990 driveaway for the EX, without premium paint. It’s $27,990 driveaway for the ELX diesel auto, with premium paint an extra $495. Outside one can choose six colours, the test car was Space Black. Inside there are three choices with black overall, brown (mocha coffee shade), and beige. The trim is on the seats and the doors.

What Does It Look Like?: Overall, the presence is restrained from the outside, innocuous even. The front end is very SsangYong family in look, with LED eyebrow driving lights in a swept back cluster design. The lower air intake surround is a horizontal “double Y” with black urethane underneath joining the front and rear. The tail end itself is a look that evokes the MINI Countryman’s styling and a bold C pillar joins the top to the bottom.It’s compact in size to look at. Length is 4,202mm, height is 1,600mm with roof rails, and overall width is 1,798mm. What these numbers mean is good interior space for the 1,480kg (dry) Tivoli.
There’s some good looks inside too. The dash is the current Euro themed arch-type sweep from door top to door top and in the black-on-black it looks ok. The dash’s look is a mix of black textured plastics. There is a faux stitched look, a hood style binnacle, and piano black centre stack.This holds the aircon controls which are soft-touch buttons. An old-school amber backlit display screen sits above a dominant fan speed dial. Unlike most other manufacturers, SsangYong haven’t gone down the path of a standalone touchscreen for the audio/satnav, with the Korean make staying with an embedded look here. Again there is no DAB and that peculiar predilection to have one radio station sound like a skipping record.The driver faces a binnacle that has bright red backlit dials. These can be changed to five other backlights such as blue and yellow for that extra bit of personalisation. A monochrome centre screen shows wheel angle when parked. This is presumably to remind a driver which way they’re pointing when getting ready to move on.
Splashes of alloy look plastic add some colour to the black trimmed option. The seats are comfortable and not heated or vented in the ELX.
There’s the usual apps for the sound system, storage spaces front and rear, and a good amount of cargo space at the rear. There is a pair of 12V sockets, one up front and one for the rear.
Safety is high. AEB is standard, as are warning systems for forward collision and lane keeping. Australia doesn’t get the Euro spec traffic sign recognition system…yet.

What’s It Go Like?
It’s a hoot to punt around. There’s the barest hint of hesitation in the diesel from a standing start. The turbo very quickly spools up and there’s a rapid, smooth, but slightly noisy launch. The engine is a real old-school chatterer under load but there is no sense of vibration is any form. The gearbox is the same. It’s super quiet, super smooth, and rarely proved indecisive in its cog-swapping.

Off the throttle the engine is whisper quiet. There is a minimal amount of road and wind noise whilst coasting, and it’s again only when the go pedal gets the ask that the engine gets noticed. Mid range urge is sensational given the size of the engine. It’s relatively effortless in how it performs when compared to bigger cars with bigger engines. Ride is on the hard side however. The 205/60/16 from Kumho provide plenty of grip but that highish sidewall doesn’t do much in the way of aiding the suspension’s absorption. The spring and damper rates are almost adequate for smaller bumps but hit a traffic calmer at anything other than walking pace and it’s kapow.The rear corners will even “cock a leg” when in tight turns or at odd angles coming in and off some driveways. The upside is how it goes on the freeways. Undulating surfaces don’t exist, stability is high in windy conditions, and the steering, adjustable via a drive mode button, is well weighted. It’s responsive and ratioed so understeer is also kept to a minimum. As a driving package it’s far better than expected.
Warranty Is? Seven years. That’s also with unlimited kilometres, from front to rear. Srvices are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.At The End Of the Drive: It’s a real shame that this quiet achiever is due to be discontinued. Although the forthcoming Korando promises to be just as good, the Tivoli could be kept as an alternative addition, much like many Euro makers seem to offer nowadays. And it’s at a price and trim point that would be a good alternative to quite a few others. And the Tivoli has just had an addition to the range in the form of the long wheelbase XLV.

Here is how you can find out more.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Cerato GT Sedan & Cerato Sport Hatch

This Car Review Is About: The latest offerings from the long running Cerato range, specifically the restyled sedan and hatch bodies, in GT and Sport trim. There is the S, Sport, Sport Plus, and GT. The S and Sport can be optioned with a Safety Pack.Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of a turbocharged 1.6L driving a seven speed dual clutch auto in the GT, against a 2.0L non-turbo and six speed standard auto for the Sport and S. The GT gets the powerhouse 150kW turbo which delivers 265Nm of twist across a flat 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm “torque curve”. The Sport has a very good 2.0L, with 112kW and 192Nm at 4,000rpm. The S is the only version with a manual six speed available.Economy for the pair is tight; the bigger engine is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the combined cycle, with the turbo 1.6L at 6.8L/100km. Our highway drives saw 5.8L/100km for the 1.6L Cerato GT sedan, the Cerato Sport hatch clocked a 6.9L/100km. Overall activity saw 7.4L/100 for the hatch as a final average on its return, with the sedan at 7.1L/100km. That’s running regular unleaded from a 50L tank.

What Do They Cost?: Kia says $32,990 plus on-roads for the GT sedan, $25,790 plus ORC for the Sport hatch, and if you opt for the Sport+, that’s $28,840 plus ORC. There are ten colours available, with the GT getting its own Sunset Orange shade. Paints classified as Metallic or Pearl are a $520 option.On The Outside Is: A choice of a sleek sedan or a sleek hatch. They’re essentially the same until the rear of the rear doors, and the hatch has a manual tail gate, a more pronounced taper to the rear roof line, and BMW-esque LED tail lights. Essentially, as the GT has a full suite of LEDs for both headlights and DRLs, whereas the Cerato Sport Plus has normal headlights and LEDs for the daytime running lights. Both ends, though, have the indicator lamps set below a driver’s line of sight, rather than being up in the head and tail light clusters.

The GT also has specific wheels and tyres. 225/40/18s with Michelin rubber wrap ten dual-spoke design alloys. The Sport has 225/45/17 alloys of a similar yet different design. The spare is a temporary sized one with a steel rim.Overall dimensions show just how big a modern small/medium sedan is. At 4,640mm in length, they’re bigger than the legendary EH Holden, which was 4,511mm. The Cerato’s height is 1,440mm except for the GT which is 5mm lower. The blocky EH stood 1,478mm. Where the classic Holden won was on weight. At 1,118kg it’s 200kg to 250kg lighter than the Ceratos.

There’s a couple of other minor differences too; the Sport Plus gets body coloured wing mirror covers, whilst the GT has high gloss black covers. Both have heating for the mirrors. The GT has twin chrome tipped exhausts, and the Sport Plus a single well pipe. There’s also a slight difference between the sedan and the hatch when it comes to opening the boot lid. There is a release button on the key fob, and a lever inside. But there is not a tab on the bootlid to open the boot. Once open there’s another design hiccup. The rear seats don’t have a shoulder mounted seat release mechanism. To flip the seats in the sedan the boot must be opened, a boot mounted lever puller for either the left or right hand seat, then it’s back to the rear seats to actually fold them down. The hatch does away with this ridiculous idea by having a boot-lid mounted tab. On the Inside Is: A surprisingly low toned interior. The GT is black upon black, having only subtle red piping on the seats and alloy look plastics around the gear selector, air vents and dash strip, central steering wheel spoke, and door handles, to break up the black. Under the driver’s foot is alloy pedals in the GT. The Sport Plus as tested had a similar look to the dash but had a lighter shade of material from the doors upwards and a charcoal/grey cloth trim to the seats. The GT’s driver holds a flat bottomed steering wheel.

Actual plastics look and feel is cheapish. There’s little, if anything, to differentiate the upper echelon cars from the base model S in this respect, plus there’s a distractingly high level of upper dash reflectivity into the windscreen. The driver’s binnacle display is fully analogue and has a monochrome display screen, not colour. Sound comes from a six speaker system in the Sport Plus, an eight speaker setup in the GT, with DAB tuners across the range plus the now almost seemingly mandatory Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus Bluetooth.There are four cup, and four bottle, holders in the cabin. Just the driver gets a one touch up/down window switch. The GT gets a wireless smartphone charging pad and it’s a slightly tricky design. A small bump in the plastic on the left hand side will stop a phone from being charged properly if it’s not placed in the holder correctly. There’s a pair of USB ports and a single 12V socket up front as well.

As is the norm now, a touchscreen of 8.0 inches in measurement, and a simple one to use at that, is mounted up high on the dash. Default look is map and audio side by side. As is Kia’s wont, the interface is intuitive and makes using the various functions, and changing settings, fuss free.

On The Road It’s: Not quite chalk and cheese. The turbo in the GT is a firecracker, with verve, fizz, fire and brimstone, belying the 265Nm, as it feels as if there are more. The dual clutch transmission is beautifully matched and the performance potential is huge. Surprisingly, the 2.0L seemed not far off the pace in regards to response and driveability. The smaller engine is a free spirited and easily spun unit however the 2.0L in the Sport was nearly as easy going in how it moved the analogue needle around the dial. The more traditionally oriented six speed auto was nearly as slick and smooth, but simply couldn’t match the bang-bang nature of the dual-clutch in cog swapping.Get and go in both is very good, with the torque spread of the GT’s engine making for a harder run from a standing start. There’s real excitement from the driveline as a straight line run sees the freeway limit reached in what feels like just a breath. The Sport’s 2.0L pulled hard too but in a side by side comparison would be noticeably behind. The dual-clutch also exhibited a trait peculiar to this kind of transmission. Anything from a mild press of the go pedal upwards has the brains of the ‘box working fine, go a little softer, or change from Reverse to Drive, and there’s that customary pause as the brains figure out exactly what the transmission is supposed to do before actually doing so.Handling on both was neutral; the weight of the steering in both was excellent and allowed for a clean judgement of how much input was required to have the nose go where it was desired. On one particular corner the front end would run wide but only at a certain speed and was easily brought back to a controllable level with a back-off and a brush of the brakes. Highway driving has the pair change directions nimbly and the steering & engine choices, left in the default Eco mode, was never needed to be in anything other than that. The GT has a Smart mode which runs between Sport/Eco/Comfort, and effectively learns on the fly as well, helping the on board computers to adapt to an individual driving style.

Ride quality definitely tends towards the harder style yet the GT’s 18 inch rubber doesn’t crash through to the cabin at all. The Australian fettled suspension is well sorted, with work performed on the sophisticated multi-link independent system going to a specific sports tune all-round Braking is superb with the front brake discs growing in size from 280mm to 305mm, making braking a sensory experience and providing millimetre perfect judgement. The Sport lacked little here too, with its braking setup virtually on par. The Sport also has a softer ride setup, and perhaps one that more buyers would choose over the tauter GT for around-town driving.

GT stands for Grand Tourer and so it is with the sedan really showing its mettle on longer runs. The very nature of the torque deliver and the responsiveness of the seven speed DCT suits a good punt and taken westwards along the Great Western Highway, and eastwards on the freeways towards Sydney show what a beautifully setup long distance driver it is. In seventh geqar and barely off idle in cruise mode, the GT is a delight. The Sport’s sixth gear takes the rev point higher and it’s here that the slight coarseness of the 2.0L becomes apparent. It’s not harsh, just noticeable that it’s not quite as turbine smooth or quiet.Of a final note is the aural extension of the engine note into the cabin for the GT. It’s a throaty and rorty sound, not unlike a worked over flat four. But it’s a generated sound, and played via the sound system. It’s a matter of personal taste and unfortunately not one that can be deactivated.

Safety Features Are: strong, naturally. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking, with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Keep Assist are standard. Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, are also standard.

What About Warranty and Service?: Standard seven years, unlimited kilometres, and capped priced servicing, as per the information here.

At The End of the Drive. Kia has come a HELLUVA long way in the twelve years since AWT was selling cars alongside the brand’s then new cars. The level of technology, safety, the designs, and the change from a non-turbo range to the inclusion of a genuine sports oriented range, such as the Cerato GT, put Kia into a stronger position in the marketplace than it was a decade ago. In an increasingly competitive sales area, the Cerato GT stands out as one to choose from a drivers’ perspective. The Sport is the one for an around town lifestyle. The sedan and hatch have further information available.

 

 

Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition.

This Car Review Is About: Hyundai’s funky little SUV called the Kona. They’ve gone a little rogue here and given the world a limited edition, 400 vehicle, “Iron Man” version, complete with body styling that evokes the Iron Man look, and a couple of nifty interior changes too. It’s powered by the 1.6L turbo engine, has a seven speed dual clutch auto, and puts drive mainly to the front but will split torque to the rear on demand.

What Does It Cost?: Hyundai list it as $39,990 plus on road costs. That’s $990 more than the Highlander with the same engine spec.And What Do I get For That?: There is some visual highlights for the Iron Man Edition. Inside there is a Tony Stark signature on the rippled plastic in front of the passenger, a Stark Industries style logo for the top of the gear selector and in the driver binnacle dials. There is a Head Up Display fitted and it plays a stylised graphic on engine start. The seats have an Iron Man head and Stark Industries logo embossed into the faux leather and the doors shine a Iron Man head puddle lamp. Outside is a bit more. There is Iron Man badging aplenty, with the front of the headlight holder having it embossed into the plastic, an Iron Man centre wheel cap, the Marvel logo on the bonnet which has also been redesigned in shape, plus the letterbox slot above the main grille has a red insert with Iron Man here. There is an Iron Man badge on the front flanks and the guards have been pumped with extra cladding.The bottom of the doors have the brilliant metallic red from the Iron Man suit with the silver inlays, and the exhaust tips in the lower rear bumper have a similar motif. the tail lights are full LED and the rear gate has Iron Man on the grab handle. The LED driving lights have a similar look to aspects of the Iron Man suit and the roof, also in red, has a dark grey Iron Man logo which complements the dark grey semi-matte coating for the body and the Stark Industries logo on the rear doors.On the Inside Is: a mix of Highlander trim and lower trim level looks. Although the seats are perforated they are not vented nor heated. The centre console around the gear selector lacks the buttons found in the Highlander and has red piping highlights. It does carry over the drive mode for Sport/Eco/Comfort, and has a lock system for the AWD. The vents have red piping highlights also and the actual aircon controls are the same as Highlander’s. There are the usual audio and smartphone connections via the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps and USB, but the Highlander’s wireless charge pad is deleted. The driver’s seat is powered and there is memory seating. As mentioned before there is a HUD. Internal measurements are identical to the rest of the range.

Where Hyundai could have lifted the interior look is on the dash. The plastics could have been replaced by a higher tech look, perhaps a silver sheen material reflecting that found outside and on the Iron Man suit itself.

On the Outside Is: As also mentioned, some distinctive changes to the body work. Hankook supplies the 235/45 tyres on the multispoke alloys that have red plates attached. The LED driving lights are subtly restyled from the Kona range and the view from the front also shows the lower air intake is different to the rest in the range. The colour scheme is distinctive, of course, and the paint is the type that is best wiped down and certainly not suitable for polishing.

On the Road It’s: Happily far better to drive than the 2.0L with six speed auto. It’s a 1.6L turbo four that’s essentially the same as that found in the firecracker Kia Cerato GT. There is 130kW of peak power, and that’s at 5,500rpm. Peak torque of 265Nm is available between 1,500rpm and 4,500rpm. The seven speed dual clutch auto is mostly a delight to have along with the 1.6L turbo. It lights up from the press of the go pedal at standstill, is super responsive from 2000rpm onwards, and can be as economical as 5.5L per 100km on the freeway.

We finished on an overall average of 7.1L/100km in a mainly urban drive cycle. That’s decent as Hyundai quote 8.0L/100km for the urban drive, 6.0L/100km for the highway, and an overall combined figure of 6.7L/100km. Dry weight is 1,507kg at its heaviest, with a gross vehicle curb weight of just under 1,950kg. The DCT’s glitch is standard for just about any gearbox of its type. Select Reverse, and it engages, roll out to a stop and select Drive.

It’s here that indecision strikes and there’s that pause between engaging and forward motion. It also strikes when coming to a give way sign, and it disengages, waits….and waits….and waits, before the clutches bite. Otherwise it’s super smooth, slick, and rarely did anything other than delight.

 

The AWD system is biased towards the front wheels and one of the driver’s screen display options is showing how much torque is split to the rear. In the Iron Man Edition it’s coloured blue, lights up a set of six or seven bars when in front wheel drive. Plant the hoof and there are four or five bars for the rear wheel wheels that really only show a couple on tarmac drive conditions. When Sport mode is selected it’s more a matter of longer gear holding and slightly crisper changes.

Steering feel is light but not to the point of losing touch with the front. There is quite a bit of communication and the ratio feels tight, possibly thanks to the AWD system providing more bite. Directional changes are rapid, composed, and the suspension is almost spot on. The front end “crashed” over a couple of speed bumps but it’s otherwise urban suitable. The brakes are a delight, too, with instant feedback and one of the best progressive feedback stories available. A driver can precisely judge just how much pressure is required at any point on its travel from top to the end. Disc sizes are up from the 2.0L Kona, at 305mm and 284mm.What About Safety?: Well there is no problem here. It’s standard Hyundai in that there is little, if anything, missing from the SafetySense package. The mandated systems such as ABS etc are here but it’s the extras that are also becoming more and more common as standard that Hyundai fits. Forward Collision Warning with cyclist and pedestrian detection, Blind Spot Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard here, along with four sensors for parking front and rear. There are six airbags, with the driver’s kneebag seen in other brands not seen here. Tyre pressure monitoring, pre-tensioning seatbelts, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and emergency flashing brake lights are also standard.And Warranty and Service?: Standard five years/unlimited kilometres with Hyundai’s Lifetime service plan including free first service at 1,500 kilometres, roadside assistance, and satnav upgrade plan as well.

At the End Of the Drive.
Bodywork and interior trim changes aside, the 1.6L turbo, DCT, and all wheel drive system mark the Kona Iron Man Edition as as much fun as any other Kona with the same engine. What makes the Iron Man Edition stand out is the distinctive body colour, the body mouldings, and the badging. Primary and high school runs get fingers pointing, with one high school lad coming over to the car, running his fingers over the front quarter badge and declaring: “man, that is the shit, this is so cool!” Passengers in other cars on the road would nudge the driver and point, and there was always a smile to be seen.

Absolutely it could also be seen as a somewhat cynical marketing exercise but it shows that one car company hasn’t completely lost something society needs more of: a sense of humour. Here is where you’ll find out more.

Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Kona Highlander & 2019 Hyundai Tucson Elite.Private Fleet

This Car Review Is About: A pair of SUVs from Korean goliath, Hyundai. It’s great to have to Hyundai back in the garage, and the two cars reviewed, Kona and Tucson, show the direction of one section of the car market. The Kona was the highest trim level, the Highlander, with the Tucson a mid level trim, the Elite. Kona comes in four trim levels with the conventional, non-electric, powertrain. There is Kona Go, Kona Active, Kona Elite, and Kona Highlander. There is also the limited edition “Iron Man” version. Tucson is Go, Active X, Elite, Special Edition, and Highlander.

Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of turbo or non-turbo engine. The Highlander spec Kona came with the Atkinson cycle 2.0L that drives the front wheels, the turbo is AWD. 110kW and 180Nm are the peak power and torque outputs, at 6,200rpm and 4,500rpm. The Elite came with the same capacity engine and front driven wheels, but slightly uprated in regards to power and torque, at 122kW and 205Nm, which are available at 6,200rpm and 4,000rpm. Tucson also has the 1.6L/AWD, and adds AWD to a 2.0L diesel.Both cars run E10 compatible fuel systems and are EURO 5 compliant. Transmission for the 2WD Kona is a six speed auto, as is the Tucson. The Elite Tucson is available with the diesel and 1.6L petrol, which gain an eight speed auto and seven speed dual clutch auto respectively.Consumption for the Kona is rated as 7.2L/100km for the combined, 9.7L/100km for the city, and just 5.8L/100km on the highway cycle. In 2.0L and 6 speed auto trim, the Tucson has 7.9L/100km combined, 11.0L/100km in the city cycle, and a reasonable 6.1L/100km for the highway. Weights are 1,290kg (dry) to 1,383kg for the Kona, with Tucson ranging from 1,490kg (dry) to 1,590kg.

On The Inside Is: A really funky interior for the Kona Highlander, a restrained and functional interior for the Tucson. Highlander spec for the Kona sees the body colour added to the piping on the seats, colour coordinated seatbelts, the air-vent surrounds, and gear selector surround. As the test car came in a colour called Lime Twist it makes for a very eye-catching look.The Tucson Elite review car had mocha coloured seats and an otherwise standard looking interior. There are notable similarities between the two in respect to the layout of the dash, and a couple of of differences. The Tucson, for example, has two separate buttons for fresh and recirculating, whereas the Kona uses one. The Kona also goes for a Head Up Display, accompanied by a slight buzz as it rises monolithically out of the top of the driver’s binnacle. The actual dash designs are different; the Kona is at odds with the sharp and edgy exterior design by having a flowing, organic, dash. The Tucson is a more traditional look, with a flatter profile and has air vents at either end that are reminiscent of an American classic car’s rear end.Kona Highlander has dials for both fan speed and temperature, Tucson Elite has a separate pair of tabs for fan speed, and two dials for individual front seat temperatures. Naturally the Kona offers venting and heating for the front seats but the Elite offers neither., even with perforations in the seat materials. Kona Highlander has a wireless smartphone charge pad, two USB ports up front, with Tucson Elite having a sole USB port front and rear.Headroom is identical, at 1,005mm up front, and virtually the same at 961mm for the Kona, 963mm for Tucson in the rear. Front seat legroom is lineball with Kona scoring 1,054mm for the front, Tucson 1,053mm in the front, with the shorter overall Kona losing out in the rear leg room stakes. It’s 880mm to 970mm. Shoulder room for the Kona is 1,410mm/1,385mm front and rear, whilst the Tucson has 1,450mm/1,410mm. Load up the rear and the Kona has 361L/1,143L to the Tucson’s 488L/1,478L. Both have steering wheel controls for audio, dash screen information, Bluetooth phone connection and voice activation, with both looking virtually identical. the driver’s displays are the same, and the upper centre dash for both is where the touchscreens for audio, satnav, and more are found. There are minimal design differences between the two, and both have screens that are a delight to use in their looks, simplicity of usage, and layout. Both have the almost mandatory apps including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and DAB audio.

On The Outside It’s: Revolution and evolution. The Kona is one of the new breed of small SUVs that are supplementing the medium and large SUV segments. The marketing for the Kona is aimed at the younger demographic and the design of the Kona itself is of an appeal to the same. Kona eschews the traditional front end design of upper mounted headlights and replaces them with LED daytime running lights. the headlights themselves are mid mounted, with the lower centre air intake featuring conventionally powered lights, with cornering lamps also up front. The rear has LEDs in the Highlander, with separate clusters for the reverse and indicators. Tucson is in its second generation and has been given a refinement front and rear. The LED DRL strips are now set as “eyebrows” to the headlights, rather than being located in the lower front quarters. The grille and headlights are reprofiled, there are new wheel designs, and the rear has been subtly reprofiled from the originals slightly bulbous shape, and the horizontal line in the lower third of the rear door has been deleted. Both have the durable black polyurethane body mouldings for soft-roading protection and visual appeal.

Rubber for the Highlander is 235/45 on 18 inch alloys, with the tyres from Hankook. The Tucson is slightly smaller in width at 225/55/18, with Kumho the supplier here.

On The Road It’s: A bit chalk and cheese. Although the Highlander is no heavyweight, the high rev point for the peak torque means off-the-line mojo isn’t great with the 2.0L non-turbo. Patience is required and any move from a stop sign before going into oncoming traffic needs to be well judged. Rolling acceleration isn’t fantastic but it’s nice enough and builds in a linear fashion.

The Tucson Elite is more spritely, more responsive from the start. Although it was the non-turbo engine, the performance was definitely more engaging and sparkling. Peak torque is higher in numbers and lower in the rev range, so the cogs can deliver the torque more efficiently, it seems.

Both exhibit well mannered on-road credentials. The Highlander is harder in the suspension, with a notably tighter ride across all tarmac surfaces. Steering initially felt like twisting a thick rubber rope, the Tucson lighter and easier to deal with daily. The Kona eventually felt as much of an extension as the Tucson. Braking in both was balanced, progressive, and although not instant in response from a press of the pedal, could be judged perfectly as the pedal went down.

The Tucson had an opportunity to show off its soft-road ability with a long drive in a national park and on gravel roads. Up front, the ABS calibration definitely errs towards a tarmac bias. Some of the roads are just wide enough to allow two vehicles to pass at low speed safely, and occasionally the Tucson’s stopping ability into a certain section was called upon. There was no lack of control, the car went straight ahead, and once or twice the pressure was such to engage the emergency flashers.

On the rutted surfaces the suspension was tuned well enough that body control was solid. There was little noise intrusion, and the suspension transmitted little of the jiggles through. The front end felt connected to the front and even when provoked somehow managed to keep understeer to a minimum.

The Safety Systems Are: Quite solid in both. The Hyundai SafetySense package in the Kona Highlander is shared with Kona Elite, and included Forward Collision Alert with Pedestrian and Car avoidance, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lanbe Keep Assist, and six airbags. In Tucson trim, the Elite gets these but they’re an option below. The Lane Keep Assist is perhaps a bit aggressive, with a non-subtle tugging of the wheel in the driver’s hands as it works to centralise the cars in a lane. And The Warranty Is: Five years/unlimited kilometres is the current Hyundai package. 12 months worth of roadside assistance is included at purchase, the first service is free. Hyundai also offer a Lifetime Service Plan, and your local Hyundai dealer can explain how that works in more detail. There is also the Hyundai AutoLink app, and it looks pretty cool to play with. It’s a multi-function monitor system that transfers info from the car to a smartphone, allowing tyre pressure checks, fuel and battery status, even driving time.

At The End Of The Drive. The growth of the SUV market seems almost unstoppable. Here, a major world player offers a small and medium sized option, with the Santa Fe at the top of the tree. The Kona and its marketing seem to be ideal for a clientele in the 20-30 year old demographic, and potentially a sing;e or couple with no children. The Tucson goes towards the mid 20s and upwards, and with one child at least.

Neither are horrible to live with and certainly the Kona became easier to understand in how to drive it as the week progressed. the Tucson, in comparison, was like strapping on a familiar set of boots, partly because I was involved in the original model’s launch program. The fact that the room up front is identical and really not that much different for the rear seat speaks volumes for the overall design and packaging of the Kona.

On a tech level the Kona Highlander has the HUD to offer, and for those that don’t wish to use it there is a switch that lowers the screen. Dynamically the Tucson comes out as the winner, but a trim-for-trim comparison would provide a more apt comparison. In either respect, Hyundai kicks goals as a car brand to aspire to, and the “N” series of i30 is certainly highly regarded.
2019 Hyundai Tucson range and 2019 Hyundai Kona range info is available in more detail via these two links.

Isn’t It Ioniq, Part 2.

Hyundai recently released details of upgrades to its electric and hybrid small car, the Ioniq. It’s available as a hybrid, a plug in hybrid, and full battery pack power system.
The fully electric version has had the battery capacity upgraded, which brings with it a range increase. It’s up from 28.0kWh to 38.3kWh, with a new mooted top range of 294km. Power and torque are rated as 100kW and 294Nm. The on-board charger has also been uprated, with an increase to 7.2kW from 6.6kW. This enable a charge to 80% from empty in approximately 54 minutes.

Ioniq Hybrid has been given a 32kW/170Nm permanent magnet motor for the rear axle, with partial power from a 1.56kWh made from a lithium-ion-polymer battery. The PHEV delivers 44.5kW, with peak torque of 170Nm. The battery pack is a 8.9kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery and backs up the 1.6L direct injection petrol engine. 103.6kW and 265Nm are the combined capacities, says Hyundai. Pure electric mode allows a top speed of 120kmh and up to 52km of battery only range. Transmission is a single speed for the Electric, a six speed dual clutch for the other two.

They also receive a regenerative energy system, and a new Eco DAS, or Eco Driving Assist System, which lowers energy usage and fuel consumption when areas such as intersections are being approached and speed is reduced. This works alongside PEMS, the Predictive Energy Management System, that oversees the battery recharge and discharge rates. This is specific to up and down hill roads, and adjusts the drive system on the fly, integrating the petrol engine and recharge system as required.
Safety has been uprated too. Pedestrian Detection and Cyclist Detection is standard now and packaged with Front Collision Warning and Avoidance Assist. Lane Keep Assist and High Beam Assist are also standard. A cool option is Lane Following Assist; this keeps the Ioniq in the centre of a lane in just about all forms of traffic situations, plus partners with Intelligent Speed Limit Warning to read street signs.

For the tech-heads, Hyundai have their Hyundai Blue Link, a connected to car system which uses smart device technology to allow remote access, check charge levels, and set air-conditioning. An update adds eCall, an emergency backup system that will contact emergency services if airbags have been set off or a specific emergency button inside the cabin has been pressed.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are on-board as standard, and accessed via a 10.25 inch display screen. An extra and welcome piece of tech is the ability to connect two Bluetooth enabled devices for music streaming. This sits above a redesigned centre console stack, with a redesigned aircon panel and upgraded finish. The IONIQ Electric’s standard high-resolution 7-inch LCD console display (optional for hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions) has been improved with mood lighting to visualise the different drive mode themes. To round off the improved modern interior design, blue ambient lighting has been applied across the passenger-side lower dashboard and the centre console.
Outside the Ioniq has also been freshened. A refurbished grille design with a mesh-type look starts the party for the Hybrid and PHEV. The electric version has a closed grille and this has an updated pattern. The bumper up front and rear panels have been updated as well, with new running lights, colours, and LED powered front and rear lights. Wheels are 16 inch for PHEV and Electric, 15 or 17 for the hybrid.

With thanks to Trevor and Chris at eftm.com.au, here’s their long-term review of the current Ioniq: Hyundai Ioniq at EFTM

Hyundai says the updated Ioniq range will be available in the second half of 2019.

Kia Gets Spicy With HabaNiro EV Concept.

Unveiled at the Manhattan Auto Show, the HabaNiro concept is a fully-electric, all-wheel drive, four-seat wonder car with an All Electric Range (AER) of more than 300 miles/480 kilometres, level-five autonomous mode, butterfly wing doors and more advanced tech than that which helped land men on the moon.

Tom Kearns, vice president of design for Kia Design Center America, said: “We wanted this concept to be comfortable navigating city streets, carving turns on a coastal road and off-roading with confidence to remote wilderness adventures.”

With its rugged 20-inch wheels, short overhangs and big haunches, the HabaNiro exudes coiled muscularity and capability, whether you’re on a grocery run, en route to a meeting or in search of a remote fishing hole.

Says Michael Cole, KMA chief operating officer and executive vice president: “The HabaNiro is a genius work of skill and imagination. Not only does its beautiful design incorporate the needs of future mobility, but its engineering and technology anticipate the way people will want to move in the near future.”

It’s looking to be a multi-role vehicle, essentially an all-electric Everything Car or ECEV: commuter, crossover, sport utility, state-of-the-art technology workroom and adventure vehicle.

Exterior design of the 4430mm long concept sees protective metallic grey cladding encompassing the front wheels which extends onto the body sides and the bright “Lava Red” aero panel that defines the C-pillar and extends up and over the roof. This look is reinforced by the single character line that wraps around the front end, extends through the shoulder, and ends pointed at the rear wheels.

The HabaNiro grille resembles a shark’s snout, complete with a slit-like gap full of gloss black aluminium “teeth” similar to the cooling blades found on high-end electronic equipment. The EV chassis architecture allowed the wheels to be pushed to the corners, giving the HabaNiro its wide and confident stance, including the 2830mm wheelbase with 265/50/20 wheels and tyres

Satin aluminum skid plates, milled billet aluminium tow hooks, anodized Lava Red aluminium accents, and the embossed HabaNiro name complement the upscale look while suggesting the vehicle’s adventure-ready attitude.

The doors open in a similar butterfly fashion to another electric vehicle. The concept car’s Lava Red interior is said to suggest passion and vibrancy.The Lava Red interior suggests passion and vibrancy.

Contributing to the interior’s clean and modern appearance is the absence of rectangular screens and traditional control knobs and buttons. Instead, the HabaNiro features a full-width front windshield Heads-Up Display (HUD) system controlled by a concave acrylic instrument panel that is a large interactive touchpad display with Sensory Light Feedback (SLF). Technical Option Sharing System (TOSS) allows users to swipe and move vehicle options across the HUD screen as though moving chess pieces.

HabaNiro’s occupants are kept comfortable by a slim Perimeter Ventilation System (PVS) that quietly and evenly blows a curtain of air throughout the cabin. and are lit by a soft ambient glow that shines through the bold geometrically-patterned floor. The Lighting Colour Effect (LCE) can be dimmed or brightened, and the hue can be modified to impact the mood of the interior environment.

When HabaNiro’s part-time level-five autonomous driving system is engaged the steering wheel and instrument panel retract forward to provide more room for the front occupants. Media or other entertainment, such as a movie for a long highway haul, can be displayed on the full-width HUD video system. There’s plenty of interior space thanks to the 1950mm width.HabaNiro features Kia’s new Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.) System introduced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. R.E.A.D. can optimize and personalize a vehicle cabin space by analyzing a driver’s emotional state in real-time through artificial intelligence-based bio-signal recognition technology.

The technology monitors the driver’s emotional state and tailors the interior environment according to its assessment – potentially altering conditions relating to the human senses within the cabin and in turn creating a more pleasurable and safer driving experience. R.E.A.D. also enables the HabaNiro’s Eye Tracking System (ETS) with 180° rearview video display.

The system uses AI-based emotional intelligence to monitor when the driver looks up to the top of the windshield where conventional rear view mirrors are traditionally located.

The AI immediately senses the driver’s need to see behind the vehicle and instantly activates the 180° rearview video display. There are no immediate plans to utilize AI to sense when the driver is hungry and then direct to the nearest drive-through where an order will be waiting, but the technology may someday evolve to make just such a task possible.

AI and automation shouldn’t take the joy out of driving, as some auto lovers fear, but should enhance it – anticipating needs so we can concentrate on the driving experience.

Naturally, being a concept, some of these features, including the doors, are unlikely to make it into production, should Kia move ahead with it.

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.