Monday, August 31, 2015

Get A Better Look At The 2017 Kia Sportage

Thankfully, AutoGuide.com‘s spy photographers have caught the new Kia Sportage driving on public roadways fully exposed, giving us a better look ahead of the vehicle’s public debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Sporting a whole new bold look, the Sportage is designed by Kia’s European studio in Frankfurt, Germany, with input from the automaker’s Korean and U.S. design centers. It’s been heavily inspired by the Provo concept, especially at the rear of the crossover with angular tail lights and chrome accents.

The front headlights are no longer integrated with the Sportage’s front grille, which has also been updated to be wider and lower, giving the front end a more prominent and powerful appearance.

More details on the 2017 Kia Sportage will be revealed when it officially bows in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show, including powertrain options and specifications. For now, expect a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine under the hood mated to a dual-clutch transmission from the current Hyundai Tucson.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 Kia Sorento Platinum Review | Road Test

It’s rare for a new arrival to spring a surprise on me. Usually, what we get is what I know, from the Suzuki Celerio through to the Ferrari 488. So I was expecting the Kia Sorento to be big and boring, well priced and well backed, with most of its ‘stuff’ carried over from the Hyundai Santa Fe that fills exactly the same slot in the blue team from South Korea.

But it’s not. It’s a surprise. And a very nice one.

The Sorento is good looking and refined, very nicely finished, great value, and spun from the Kia Carnival of the red team instead of the Santa Fe.

In short, it’s a winner. And that’s something that’s also reflected in the best-yet ANCAP safety score for an SUV and the third best rating overall.

So, instead of thinking about what’s happening, I’m asking why it’s happening. And I’m coming back to the Avis advertising slogan from the 1960s - ‘We try harder’.

Avis sprang the tagline because it was a perennial number two behind Hertz in the rental company business, just as Kia is number two behind Hyundai.

So Kia is trying harder, in everything from the body design work by Peter Schreyer to the seven-year warranty that leads the car business in Australia.

Customers are now getting the benefits, as I discover during a week with the Sorento. For a start, instead of being developed from Hyundai’s SUV platform under the Santa Fe it is twinned with the Carnival, so the basic building blocks are more car-like.

I’ve already driven the Santa Fe, but the Kia equivalent is considerably better looking - not just in the body shaping but the layout and finish of the cabin. Even the sweep of the windscreen surround, and how it frames the road ahead, is a massive change and provides a great view.

It’s also more plush and refined than the Santa Fe, as well as a range of rivals including the Nissan Pathfinder, with great suspension and a nicely isolated cabin. Nothing I encounter goes remotely close to threatening the suspension tuning developed in Australia by Graeme Gambold.

It’s a full seven-seater and the Platinum turbodiesel test car also comes with all-wheel drive, although the two-tonne towing capacity is nothing special. There is a front-drive petrol model, but a lot of seven-seater buyers are looking for an SUV with a diesel.

Performance is good, economy is good, and the car sits quietly and comfortably at any legal speed. It also stops well enough, something I cannot say about the Hyundai Tucson I’ve also been driving.

There is a system to lock the four-wheel drive with a 50:50 power split, not that many will be going off the bitumen and a lot of owners will only take the front-drive version with petrol power.

The safety equipment is top-notch, from six airbags to a rear-traffic alert and smart cruise control as well as lane-keeping assistance, but it’s little things like a full-sized alloy spare and standard satnav across the range that show the goodness of the Sorento.

The best thing about the car, among many good things, is the cabin. It’s a cut above anything that’s come from Kia in the past and is getting close to an Audi from Korea. That’s reflected in the design work, but also the choice of materials and the way they go together.

VERDICT 

The Sorento is one of the very best Korean cars yet and one of the very best SUVs I’ve driven this year. It’s more than qualified for The Tick.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kia Sportage Revealed

Kia has taken the covers off its next-generation Sportage SUV ahead of its official reveal at the Frankfurt motor show next month.

The South Korean brand has followed up on a teaser issued last week with the first images of the popular mid-sized soft roader, showcasing a sharp new design direction that it claims will forge a familiar look across future models.

It has yet to confirm final mechanical details of the vehicle range, or overall dimensions, but considering it is set to be based on similar underpinnings to the recently-released Hyundai Tucson it is likely to be significantly larger than the current model with a greater focus on interior space.

With the typical hyperbole associated with exterior design releases, Kia says the fourth-generation Sportage's style has the "contrast of smooth and sharp edges found on some fighter jets" which "creates visual harmony out of the tension between sharp, defined feature lines and smooth surfacing".

While the overall design is a more mature look, the most significant change is in the car's face, which features a revised version of the company's trademark pinched 'tiger nose' grille but no longer has the headlamps integrated into the flow - a prominent feature of vehicles such as the Koup and all-new Optima due to arrive later this year. Instead, the Sportage features high-mounted headlamps supported by the brand's signature four spotlight daytime driving lamps in large faux intakes on either side of the lower portion of the bumper.

The overall silhouette of the Sportage is much more refined with its longer front overhang and shorter rear overhang helping to give it a more rakish stance.

More details of the Sportage are expected to be confirmed in the lead-up to the Frankfurt motor show ahead of its anticipated arrival in local showrooms next year.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Kia Soul EV Wireless Charger In Final Stages Of Development

Kia has announced the wireless charger for the Soul EV has reached the final stage of development.

Created with the assistance of Mojo Mobility, the wireless charger was designed to allow for the transfter of "high power without need for precise alignment between the charger and the vehicle."  Kia says the wireless charger will make owning an electric vehicle more convenient, which in turn, could help to increase their appeal and acceptance by consumers.  The automaker also noted that wireless chargers could potentially pave the way for smaller and lighter battery packs.

As part of the final test phase, Kia will be using a fleet of five Soul EVs to see how the wireless charger performs in the real world.  In order to do this, a team of engineers and technicians will evaluate the charger's performance, durability and safety.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kia Motors California Proving Ground – Factory Tour

About 100 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport in the Mojave Desert you’ll find Kia’s 4300 acre test facility. The South Korean company has been rigorously testing its vehicles here for just over a decade, with the view to building world-class cars and SUVs.

CarAdvice has been invited onto the test track surrounded by camouflaged test mules to get an idea of what goes on behind the wall fences and razor wire.

Photographers camp out in the desert for weeks on end trying to get a shot of vehicle we’re going to be standing next to and in some cases driving. Its a rare privilege. We’re not allowed to photograph anything, so the accompanying images are as basic as you get – suffice to say, there’s plenty of top-secret testing going on. During our visit we lose count of the number of prototypes working their way round the various test tracks.

“The facility was constructed between February 2003 and December 2004 at a cost of US $58 million,” explains Matt Seare, facility manager VE – California Proving Ground. It’s a long job title, but Matt has a pretty important job managing the testing of nearly every new Kia model.

“The Kia Proving Ground has quickly become a very important part of Kia’s global development,” says JH So from Kia’s global PR Team. “It provides not only on-road and off-road testing and assessment facilities, but also allows colleagues in other areas of development to put materials and components through the most strenuous conditions due to the climate in Mojave.”

At the immense facility you’ll find ten separate courses that are used in a variety of ways to torture the vehicles. They include a garage of different tests all designed to best replicate the kind of stresses daily driving put on a new vehicle.

The high speed oval is self explanatory and allows testers to run at set speeds for as long as they like. There’s a gradual uphill climb that starts at three percent, moves to four percent and finishes up at a 12 percent gradiant. It mirrors what you might experience on a long climb up a country road.

The vehicle dynamics area is especially interesting. It is designed to test the limits of adhesion and the capabilities of the suspension system at speed, while the Winding Road Test is like a mini racetrack within the large oval.

The straight stability surface has been tailored with a visible crown in the centre of the lanes. It’s cambered surface ensures the tyres pull left and right to test both steering dynamics and response. The Special Surfaces Test section is also interesting in that every lane – across six lanes – has a different texture.

“This area is mainly for NVH and chassis development,” says Seare. “The chassis guys love being able to closely monitor what is happening across an array of different and challenging road surfaces.”

The gravel road and off-road sections aren’t super tough, but they put plenty of twist and torque through the chassis, while the section Kia engineers call the LA Freeway is an exact mirror of a section of, you guessed it, LA freeway, that the government closed down overnight to allow Kia engineers to measured and take readings of all the various surface imperfections and replicate them on their own test section.

The durability loop incorporates different aspects of day-to-day use like a curved block road, a sharp 16 degree driveway entry, twist ditches, a sine wave, a rail crossing and even a grit trough where the vehicles plough through a bath that shows them with gravel, grit and mud. All up, there’s a combined 120 kilometres-worth of testing road at the facility.

“All vehicles, even the sports cars, use the off-road test track,” says Seare. “As you experienced, it isn’t a hardcore off-road track but it is used to assess vehicle durability over rough surfaces, dust intrusion into the cabin, noise and insulation, that kind of thing.”

CarAdvice is particularly interested in the weathering facility, which is new to the complex. Adjacent to the engineered tests, a brand new Hyundai Genesis has been sitting out in the elements for two years. “We expose our parts to the UV radiation of the sun,” says Seare. “We use a special system to accelerate the weathering process and then measure that against real world measuring of a car just weathering in the sun.”

This process is applied to all aspects of a new vehicle including interior parts, door panels, headlights, clusters, mirrors, bumpers, as well as full vehicle weather.

“It’s a solar measurement area so we can measure exactly how much solar energy is going into the part,” says Seare. “Not just the time the part has been sitting in the system.”

The Mojave Desert might not be as extreme as what we experienced a day earlier in Death Valley, but the extent to which Kia is now testing it’s global fleet is one aspect of the brand’s success. We’ve had a window into a part of the vehicle development process that we rarely see.


Kia Racing Scores Thrilling Pirelli World Challenge Victory At Miller Motorsports Park

IRVINE, Calif., Aug. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Kia Racing scored a hard-fought victory and notched another podium finish during rounds 13 and 14 of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP) in Tooele, Utah, this past weekend. Starting from the pole for round 13 on Saturday, Kia Racing pilot Mark Wilkins, in the No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Optima turbo, battled nose-to-tail with Jack Baldwin's No. 73 Porsche Cayman for most of the thrilling 50-minute contest. Through careful management of tire wear, Wilkins was able to hold off Baldwin to take the checkered flag – the first win of the 2015 season for defending PWC Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class Manufacturer Champion Kia.

"This win was huge for Kia and for Kinetic Motorsports. The Optima has always been fast, but we've been working hard this year with different car setups and race strategy, all in an effort to manage our front tire wear so we have enough traction left at the end of the race to battle with the Porsches, Mustangs and Camaros," said Wilkins, who set a new GTS lap record at MMP during qualifying with a 1:56.620 time and an average speed of 94.090 mph around the three-mile-long circuit. "I'm not sure I could've held Jack (Baldwin) off another lap. I knew he'd be strong at the end of the race like he always is, but we had just enough today to get the Optima back into victory circle where it belongs."   

Kia Racing teammate Ben Clucas, in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo, started Saturday's round 13 alongside Wilkins, making it an all-Kia front row as the GTS field took the green flag. Clucas battled mightily throughout the race and eventually crossed the line in fourth place for a solid top-five result.

Based on fastest laps during round 13, Wilkins and Clucas started Sunday's round 14 from third and fourth, respectively. Clucas' No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo got off to a tremendous start and moved up from fourth to second as the 19-car GTS field barreled into turn one. Once there, Clucas made a bold move deep in the braking zone to overtake the leader in turn five. He would lead for 12 laps, but ultimately, the desert heat and abrasive track surface would take their toll on the Optima's front tires, leaving Clucas vulnerable to attack. After a grueling 50 minutes of racing, Clucas out-dragged Baldwin's No. 73 Porsche Cayman by a mere .036 seconds for a photo finish to claim third place – his fourth podium of the season. Wilkins was not far behind, adding another top-five finish to Kia Racing's record.

"I knew our only chance to run up front was to get a good start and try to put some distance between myself and everyone else early in the race, and I got an amazing launch off the line with a run on the outside heading into turn one, so I took the opportunity to pass for the lead and was able to make it stick," said Clucas, who earned the "Best Standing Start" award for round 14. "It's a great result for Kia and for our team, who perhaps exorcised some demons at this track where we haven't had much luck in previous years. I'm happy for Mark, who got the win in round 13 and look forward to Sonoma next weekend."

Just as the factory-backed GTS Optima program enjoyed success at MMP, so too did the Kinetic Motorsports Touring Car A (TCA) Forte Koup privateer program. Current points leader and defending TCA Driver Champion Jason Wolfe swept the weekend in the No. 36 Richard Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup. Wolfe qualified fastest, started on pole for all three races and led each race flag-to-flag, adding to his points lead in the TCA Driver Championship. Kris Wright, pilot of the No. 34 Wright Automotive Kia Forte Koup, scored his first podium of the season with a third-place result in round 13 on Friday. Samantha Tan, driver of the No. 38 Gum Products International (GPI) Kia Forte Koup, also recorded her best finish of the year with a fourth-place result in round 13.

The GTS teams now quickly pack up and head to Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, for rounds 15 and 16 on August 28-30. The TCA teams have a short break before all the PWC classes converge on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, September 11-13 for their respective season finale events. Tape-delayed televised coverage of the GTS doubleheader weekend at MMP will air on the CBS Sports Network (air date and time TBA).

GTS round 15 at Sonoma Raceway takes place Saturday, August 29, at 4:45 p.m. ET, 1:45 p.m. PT, followed by round 16 on Sunday, August 30, at 11:40 a.m. ET, 8:40 a.m. PT.  Live-streamed coverage of all PWC races is available online at www.world-challengetv.com, and race fans can keep up-to-date with the Kia Racing team via the Kia Motors America Facebook and Instagram pages, and on Twitter @Kia.

About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA proudly serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and set an all-time annual sales record in 2014, surpassing the 500,000 unit mark for the third consecutive year. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles, including the rear-drive K9001 flagship sedan, Cadenza premium sedan, Sorento CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Soul Electric Vehicle2, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, the Forte compact sedan, Forte5 and Forte Koup, Rio and Rio 5-door subcompacts and the Sedona midsize multi-purpose vehicle, through a network of more than 765 dealers across the United States. Kia's U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, builds the Optima* and Sorento* and is responsible for the creation of more than 15,000 plant and supplier jobs.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kia Preps A Coupelike Sportage

Kia has given its Sportage a sleeker look and a more upscale interior.

The new crossover will have Kia's "most refined, highest-quality cabin to date," and a "bold, progressive design," Kia said.

The fourth-generation Sportage will be unveiled next month at the Frankfurt auto show and will debut in 2016.

Sketches released by Kia show a less boxy Sportage than the current version with lines that give the crossover a coupelike silhouette.

The Sportage also adopts styling cues from the KX3 concept that was unveiled in 2014 at the Guangzhou auto show, including the Kia signature "tiger nose" grille.

A sketch of the interior shows a less cluttered cabin containing a dashboard with fewer buttons and a large infotainment screen.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kia Forte Sedan, Hatchback And Coupe Facelift Spied Up Close

All three body styles of the Kia Forte facelift have been spied in a parking lot somewhere in United States.

Kia recently applied a minor facelift on its Euro-spec cee'd family so naturally the U.S.-spec Forte is also just about ready to get some tweaks. All three models (Forte sedan, Forte5 hatchback and Forte Koup) will undergo minor styling revisions, so expect slightly modified front and rear bumpers and a revised tiger nose grille while the lighting clusters are set to receive tweaked graphics.

It's the same story inside the cabin where we don't expect any major changes while underneath the hood it is believed the Forte trio will receive a 175 bhp 1.6-liter T-GDi turbocharged gasoline engine shared with the new Hyundai Elantra. It should work with a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox and will likely act as a replacement for the current 173 bhp 2.0-liter naturally aspirated motor.

The Kia Forte facelift will be launched sometime next year as a 2017MY.


Kia’s 2016 Sportage Gets A Fresh Face, Engines, And Premium Attitude

It’s hard to believe Kia has already been through three generations of its compact crossover, the Sportage, but alas, the time has come for a new design.

Official images with the fourth generation Kia Sportage have leaked online before the model is revealed next week, thanks to TheKoreanCarBlog (take a quick guess about the publication’s theme).

Though proportions about to have remained the same as the current generation crossover, styling is significantly updated to fall in line with the Korean automaker’s new design language. Overall, the new aesthetics are sleeker and yet more outgoing than the third generation.

Notable cues include pulled-back headlights, Kia’s now-signature quad-LED running lights, and new front and rear bumper designs. While interior photos didn’t accompany the exterior angles, we can expect the 2016 Sorento’s refined cabin elements to trickle down to the Sportage.

The platform is also all-new for 2016, borrowed from parent company Hyundai’s redesigned Tucson. That also means engine options will carry over, including a 1.6-liter engine with 132 horsepower and a turbocharged variant with 173 horsepower. For the European market, 1.7 and 2.0-liter diesel powertrains will join the range. Transmission options will include a six-speed manual for lower-spec trims, a six-speed automatic, and a new seven-speed dual clutch automatic. Front-wheel drive will be standard with permanent all-wheel drive available for a little extra coin.

The 2016 Kia Sportage will roll onto the Frankfurt Motor Show’s floor mid-September, but its online debut will take place on August 25. While a sale date has yet to be announced, expect dealers to stock the new crossover late this year.