Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Updating a car can involve a new set of wheels or all-weather floormats, but what’s crazy about some newer cars is that people without any special automotive knowledge can add a useful feature to their car by following simple directions from the automaker. That’s what happened to our 2017 Kia Sportage EX AWD long-termer, which now has Apple CarPlay thanks to a few easy steps and one quiet drive home.

The Sportage’s infotainment system is already pretty good, but Apple CarPlay (and the also-available Android Auto) have some advantages. So as soon as I found out that Kia and Hyundai were offering an update to the car’s software that owners could perform themselves, I got started. Because our Sportage is equipped with a navigation system, I followed these directions with the car’s SD card, but if my 2017 Sportage lacked that feature, I would have used a USB drive and these directions. Curious if your Kia is eligible for the upgrade? In a July 19 release, the automaker noted that some trims of these cars might be eligible for a free update:

With the SD card, all I had to do was follow the directions and continue with my work day until the update was installed. The only real sacrifice came with my drive home that day, which involved awkwardly listening to music from the single speaker of my iPhone while the car’s infotainment system updated itself, taking about 40 minutes.

Why Care About Apple CarPlay or Android Auto?

2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo Apple Play

Apple CarPlay’s biggest advantage (and that of Android Auto) is on cars without an integrated navigation system, such as our long-term 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. Suddenly, with Apple CarPlay, you’ve got navigation, and as a bonus, it’s linked to your phone. In the Kia’s case, I sacrifice the navigation’s helpful speed-limit display for CarPlay’s ability to track what’s already on my phone. If, for example, I left open an address on the Maps app of my iPhone, once I plug in the phone to the car, the system makes it easy for me to pull up that address and get directions.
Apple CarPlay also makes text messaging much safer and easier. When a message comes in, the system can read the message aloud and, with voice command, compose a response message while you’re driving.
Now that iOS 10 has arrived for newer iPhones, the Maps app finally allows an option to avoid toll roads whether you’re using the 2-D or 3-D map view. Also with iOS 10, I can move compatible apps I use most frequently to the first display page of icons on the Sportage’s 8.0-inch screen.
Although I still like Kia’s own navigation system and especially the speed limit display, I’m thankful the automaker offered this update. Whether you are forced to update your own car after a notification from the automaker or get a car with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto already installed, I’ve found it to be a meaningful upgrade, and because I did it myself, it was free.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Is Kia's 200-hp Soul heading to the US?

With the exception of the addition of an electric variant, the current Kia Soul has remained largely unchanged since its inception. That's all about to change at the Paris Motor Show, when Kia will unveil a refreshed Soul with its most powerful engine yet. For right now, that hopped-up model is for the European market only, but don't expect it to stay that way for long.

The Kia Soul 1.6 T-GDI uses a turbocharged, 1.6-liter I4 engine, putting out about 204 horsepower. It's combined with a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission, and it'll reach 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. It wears its own unique interior scheme, sportier front and rear fasciae and larger front brakes.
The whole Soul lineup benefits from aesthetic tweaks, as well, including new bumpers and optional LED daytime running lights. The interior receives some new trim finishers, as well as the latest iteration of Kia's touchscreen infotainment system, available in 5-, 7- or 8-inch varieties. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are along for the ride.
The European Soul will debut in Paris next week. We've heard rumors about Kia bringing a turbocharged Soul to the US for some time now, and if there's any engine likely to make its way over here, it's one that Kia's already fitted into a Soul. The company will likely focus on Europe during the auto show, but once the US auto show season kicks off, we wouldn't be surprised if it were part of the Korean automaker's product-announcement parade.

Friday, September 23, 2016

2017 Kia Soul Facelift Will Make European Debut in Paris, Adds 1.6 T-GDI Engine

We first laid eyes upon the 2017 Kia Soul exactly one month ago, when it made its debut and went on sale in South Korea. Now, though, Kia has confirmed the Soul will get dressed in its finest jacket for the 2016 Paris Motor Show. Hence, next week we’ll see the Euro-spec model up close and personal before it goes on sale all across the Old Continent in late 2016.

Although plentiful, exterior modifications haven’t changed the visual character of the Soul too much. It just made it more hip, more alluring to youngsters as a means of personal transportation. Everything, from the updated tiger-nose front grille to the redesigned daytime running lights and fog lights, help the Soul get in with the in crowd. The interior also benefits from small updates, including a selection of funky color combos.

But visual freshness isn’t all there is to the face lifted Soul. Some people will be more thrilled to find out that Kia has made the Soul safer than before. The key update in this regard is Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. For the more tech-savvy among us, the big news is the integration of Android Auto (Android 5.0 or newer), as well as Apple CarPlay (iPhone 5 or newer).

The big news, however, is the addition of the 1.6 T-GDI engine. The 1.6-liter turbocharged unit is pretty much the same powerplant you might find in the cee’d GT warm hatch, with 201 horsepower (204 PS) and 195 lb-ft (265 Nm) available to play with. And just like the cee’d GT, the Soul 1.6 T-GDI comes exclusively as a front-wheel-drive affair. But then again, this is a crossover in tune with city life, not rutted roads, green lanes, muddy fields, or sand dunes.

In combination with the 7DCT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the 2017 Kia Soul 1.6 T-GDI is pretty quick for this type of vehicle. 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 7.5 seconds is no slouch. By comparison, the most powerful model in the Renault Captur range, which is 80 horsepower down on the most powerful Soul, struggles to hit that in 10.7 seconds.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kia opens its biggest European dealership – in London

The flagship showroom operates on four levels including a 15-bay workshop one level below ground, while the massive glass frontage faces directly on to the A4 at ground level where the new range is displayed.
The top floor alongside the elevated section of the M4 is a brand showcase, featuring a large LCD display screen designed to enhance the often painfully slow commute of tens of thousands of commuters who will pass the showroom daily.
The new dealership will be operated by Norton Way – part of the Marubeni Group – headed by David Grainger along with a staff of 30 sales, service, technical and administrative staff.

Paul Philpott, president and chief executive of Kia Motors (UK) Limited, said: ‘With more than 27 million vehicles passing this spot every year, our new flagship dealership will be seen by more potential customers than any other Kia facility in Europe! It is a fantastic facility and we are delighted that our partnership with David Grainger and Norton Way is now up and running!
‘As Kia continues to break sales records – we expect to reach at least 89,000 sales this year – this new showroom embodies everything about the future direction of our brand and reflects the journey Kia has made in the UK in this, our 25th anniversary of arriving on these shores.’
The new building also encompasses as many zero- and low-carbon technologies as possible to minimise its impact on its surroundings – it will deliver a reduction in CO2 of more than 30 per cent of that required by current building regulations.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Peter Schreyer marks 10 years with Kia Motors

Peter Schreyer is marking ten years of leading new car design for Kia, a period during which the Korean brand’s global sales have risen from around 1.1 million cars in 2005, to 3.05 million in 2015.
Schreyer has been the mastermind of Kia’s design revolution over the last decade, a shift which has fundamentally altered the way in which the company’s models are perceived around the world. Having joined Kia Motors in 2006 as Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer is now President and Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors Corporation.
Establishing Kia’s new image
Kia had been making improvements for a number of years up to when Schreyer joined in 2006. The brand introduced the new European-built cee’d and its unique 7-Year, 100,000 mile warranty to Europe in the same year, and expanded its global manufacturing capabilities as new models entered production.
Customers around the world were opening their eyes to the value and quality of Kia cars – and Schreyer’s fresh design viewpoint provided the impetus for the transformation of the brand and its image, matching Kia’s increasingly global outlook.
Schreyer explains: “When I started at Kia, it was important that we established an identity and a consistent feeling across the brand. But the story of how our new vehicles came to life is about so much more than just aesthetics. It involves intricate choices in how complex ideas work together to create something that generates an emotional response.”
In the following years, this vision resulted in the establishment of a consistent design DNA across the growing Kia model line-up, with recognizable signature elements featured in a number of new designs, such as the tiger nose grille which can be seen in various forms on all Kia vehicles. Schreyer’s direction has helped Kia establish a clear identity, raise brand awareness, and put into production a series of modern, progressive new car designs.
‘Korean Cool’: the inspiration behind the designs
As Kia has transformed its model range, the proliferation of Korean culture around the world – K-Pop, ‘Gangnam Style’, modern architecture in Kia’s own Korean domestic market, and the appreciation of Korean art, to name a few – has helped inspire Schreyer and his design teams.
Schreyer commented: “For designers, it’s important to not only look at cars, but to be interested in architecture, art, music, industrial design…all sorts of things. They are influencing us and we are influencing them. People now know more about Korea, and about what’s going on there. On the one hand you have this ‘heartbeat’ when you go to Seoul, and on the other hand you have the silence, the concentration. Both of these things inspire me and our designers.”
It’s this contrast that has inspired the design language of Kia’s models. Schreyer explains: “We have this treasure where we can find inspiration in art, and simplicity – the luxury of empty space and surfaces. It’s very simple but it’s done with a lot of diligence and concentration.”
Schreyer’s design philosophy is borne out of this Korean inspiration: ‘the simplicity of the straight line’, which characterizes every one of the designs he has overseen. The growth of a truly global network of designers has led to different interpretations of this approach, with design centers now established in California in the USA, Frankfurt in Germany, and at the company’s Namyang R&D center in Korea.
Changing perceptions of the Kia brand
The 2010 Kia Optima, one of the first Kia models to be designed entirely under the direction of Schreyer, is seen today as the catalyst for the recent design-led transformation of Kia’s product range. As well as offering new technology and greater refinement than its predecessors, the Optima’s design added depth to the Kia model line-up and fundamentally changed the way people saw the Kia brand in markets all around the globe. The newest generation Optima, launched earlier this year, also retains this unique personality.
The Europe-only cee’d is also a model with significant Schreyer influence. The original cee’d made its debut at the Paris Motor Show in 2006 – at the same time as Kia introduced Schreyer. Their simultaneous arrival meant that Schreyer was able to influence only the smallest details of the car’s design, but the current model, which came in 2012, was created entirely under his watchful gaze.
In addition to the Optima, cee’d and every production model since, Schreyer has also directed the creation of a number of design concepts, exploring and pushing the boundaries of Kia’s design capabilities. Concepts such as the 2012 Track’ster, 2014 GT4 Stinger and 2010 Ray have shown an exciting vision of future Kia designs, and have helped establish greater depth and a global outlook to Kia design as a whole.
Design highlights
Schreyer’s favorite designs from recent years include the Soul, which “changed the brand” with its stand-out looks and cool, alternative image; and the new Optima Sportswagon, a true “European lifestyle car” which went on sale on 15 September this year.
The stunning, “forward thinking” Kia GT Concept was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 2011 and suggested what a four-door sports sedan from the company could look like.
The GT Concept also happens to be Schreyer’s favorite design of all: “You know when you have more than one kid; you can never say which your favorite is. You love them all. I also do, with all the cars I’ve designed, but there is one that stands out a little bit, I must admit. The GT Concept was a dream project for me and our designers because we got the chance to make a real GT, a car where you can travel in style.”
The future of Kia design
Design has played a key role in transforming the perception of the Kia brand and its products over the last few years – and the company will continue with this design-led approach for many years yet. New launches in new segments over the coming years, and the ongoing rebirth of new model generations, mean that Kia design will continue to be at the heart of the company’s success in future.
Schreyer concludes: “What really excites me is how fast this company is evolving. The brand as you knew it 10 or even five years ago is gone. You can see it in even the smallest detail. You can feel it in the sophisticated textures and materials. And you experience it in ways that are inter-related and connected. As we move forward, it’s important that change is an improvement and not just for the sake of looking different.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Kia calls for greater investment in UK hydrogen infrastructure

The call to invest more into hydrogen infrastructure follows a new report that says we could see 1.6 million hydrogen cars in the UK by 2030
Kia has called on the UK Government to come up with a long-term hydrogen vehicle strategy that includes a clear timeline for infrastructure projects. This comes after a new report concluded there could be as many as 1.6 million hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on Britain’s roads by 2030. 
The research conducted by the Center for Future Studies found that in less than 15 years the UK car market could see more than 300,000 hydrogen cars sold each year, supported by 1,150 refueling sites. There are currently just 13 operational hydrogen refueling stations in the UK, with many reserved for University or research purposes, and eight planned for the near future. 

Speaking to Auto Express about the report’s findings, Paul Philpott, CEO of Kia UK, said: “We’d like to see [from the UK Government] some long-term strategy, with a clear timing plan for implementation.”
“There’s a lot of talk right now without any tangible plans for infrastructural change so that we can plan for our commercial introduction. It’s longer term and tangible plans that'd we'd like to see.”
The South Korean company previously announced its ambitious plans to introduce 22 new eco-friendly cars by 2020 and that plan includes the launch of a hydrogen car. Before the car goes on sale, however, the UK will have to increase its hydrogen refueling sites, as the current lack of options is partly what is driving consumers away from the technology. Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen car, introduced last year, has only sold 26 models so far.
To date, the UK Government has announced a £2 million fund to encourage more businesses to switch to hydrogen vehicles, and previously invested £6.6 million to build 12 hydrogen refueling stations across the country. 
But in comparison to other countries, the UK could be investing more. A Kia spokesman told Auto Express: “The Korean Government is committed to 40 hydrogen charging stations by 2020. This will provide sufficient geographical coverage for anyone to drive anywhere in the country.” 
The report also identified that electric car sales could account for a third of new cars sold globally by 2041, with EVs outselling conventional combustion-engined cars as early as 2027.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Everyone's Forte: The new Kia Forte proves to be a solid choice

In the hyper competitive compact-car market, the Honda Civic is the prohibitive favorite these days, but Kia offers a formidable, and more affordable, rival in the Forte.
Starting for a solid $3,000 less than the leaders of the pack, the Civic and Mazda3, the Forte is an attractively styled, well-crafted, comfortable and road-worthy choice. The Toyota Corolla, Kia Soul, Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus also run with the leaders in this niche.
The Forte wins hearts several ways: It offers some of the most up-to-date technology for both entertainment and safety, is roomy inside, features quality materials inside and out, has above-average fit-and-finish, and has earned a reputation for reliability.
New for 2017 is a base 2.0-liter engine, that replaces a 1.8-L inline 4-cylinder. The new Atkinson cycle power plant makes 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. That's plenty to move the Forte into and through freeway traffic, even on today's Texas Interstates, which resemble a NASCAR event weaving through an endless line of trucks.
On a jaunt over to Dallas, with the cruise control locked on at 80, our tester averaged nearly 32 mpg. The EPA estimates the 2017 Forte will achieve 29 mpg in town, 38 on the highway. That's good for the class. Independent testing puts the Forte at 0-to-60 in 8.7 seconds with a top speed of 122 mpg, just fine for a compact car.
We found the car to be pleasantly responsive. When it was time to dart through an opening between 18-wheelers, the car accelerated quickly, smoothly and quietly. 
Handling isn't as zoom-zoom as the Mazda3, or even the VW GTI, but steering was firm and linear. Independent braking tests put the Forte among the class leaders.
Standard are a host of tech features, like Bluetooth, Sirius, andUVO35 telematics, which is displayed on a 7-inch touch screen display and includes a suite of core smartphone functions via Android Auto and Apple CarPlayTM . Both platforms allow drivers to conveniently use the touchscreen for smartphone functions like sending text messages, streaming music, and looking up driving directions. As an added bonus, Kia's engineers made them easy to learn to operate.
Depending on trim, the Forte also comes with Kia's latest navigation system and Drive Mode System, which allows the driver to change the driving experience based on their preference: Normal, Eco, or Sport. 
Our tester came with Kia's reasonably priced advanced driver assistance systems—Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert3. (Standard lecture: Don't you dare buy a new car without these features. They save lives).
Forte comes in three body styles—sedan, hatchback and Koup—and each of those come in three trim levels, LX, EX and SX.
Base price is $15,590, and you can get a very well equipped Forte for around $21,000. For around $25,000, you can even  toss in a $4,500 Premium Technology Package, which gets you a power sunroof, the UVO infotainment system, voice-command navigation, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.
All Fortes come standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional on the LX and standard on the other trims. 
Earlier Forte models lagged in safety protection, but those issues appear addressed with the 2017 model, which earned five out of five stars in government crash tests, with four stars in front-impact protection and five in overall-side impact protection.
Bottom Line: There are many fine choices in the compact car market, but if you can't get the trade-in you want, or the payment you need, the Kia Forte is a smart choice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Auto review: 2017 Kia Sportage contends in crowded class

There are 16 compact crossovers on the market, another 20 midsize crossovers, and nearly a dozen subcompact crossovers. Then there's the luxury makes.
With so many crossovers on the market, automakers are playing with paint, parts and design — anything and everything — to stand out.
The fourth-generation Kia Sportage once again steps out of the compact crossover class with a sharp design, big wheels and peppy turbo four.
I called the test model gold, my daughter called it bronze, Kia called it burnished copper. I liked it, though the majority of people disagreed.

The prominent snout on the Sportage is flanked by adaptive lights that turn with the car and four-cube fog lights in the top-of-the-line test model. The wheelbase is stretched by 1.6 inches over the last model, and the spoiler and rear windshield cut into the computer mouse shape shared by much of the class. It's curved and stretched in the front, but nipped and tucked in the back.
The broader wheel arches house 19-inch alloy wheels that give it a high sporty dune buggy vibe. The big wheels and lower-profile tires not only look cooler than the average crossover, they also provide better road feel, which is presumably what buyers of the top-of-the-line SX Turbo model want.
Direct injection 2-liter turbo four-cylinder engines are arguably the most popular engine choice in modern cars. Like the others, Kia's is quick off the line with little lag, which helps in passing situations. In AWD it pumps out 237 horsepower and a very impressive 260 pound-feet of torque, available at just 1,450 rpm.
It weighs nearly 4,000 pounds, however, so there's no mistaking this crossover for a hatch. It handles like a car closer to the ground, thanks to the redesigned independent front and rear suspensions and what says are firmer shock absorbers. It felt more capable than its sister, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, which has the same engine, weighs 100 pounds less, and is larger inside.
That weight also gives it lackluster mpg rating for this class, at 20 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. In a mix of modes, and a mix of driving conditions over 100 miles at an average of 33 mph, it averaged 26.5 mpg in Eco mode. The A/C was mostly off but that shouldn't explain such a large discrepancy. I reset the trip meters and did a few 25-mile commutes in Sport and Normal mode at about the same average speed and about the same economy.
The ride is quiet even with the panoramic sunroof. The interior is nice in that Hyundai/Kia way, with black leather interior, sensible combination of climate dials, radio buttons, redundant steering controls and an 8-inch touch screen.
The price is competitive at this trim level and the Sportage should be in the short list of contenders for the compact crossover buy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The new Kia GT is not far away

Do you recall the Kia GT Concept that was unveiled back in 2011? Well, the car is finally getting produced and it is projected to arrive later this year. The production GT is going to be huge when released because it is going to be Kia’s first performance-focused car.

In terms of design, the GT is already looking attractive and all that is left is for Kia to equip it with a powerful powertrain. The word is that the GT will be adopting a V6 twin-turbo engine that can develop 380hp to offer.

There will also be a base trim model that will rely on a 2L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that can generate up to 270hp. With such figures, the GT will be allowed to compete with the industry greats like the Ford Focus RS and Subaru BRZ.
This is the sort of figures which the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 fans would love to see on their cars. The unfortunate thing about the duo is that they only have 205hp to offer and it does not match their sporty looks.