Kia's new Magentis has the 'power to surprise' {Price & FE}

Discussion in 'Kia' started by tigerhonaker, May 25, 2006.

  1. tigerhonaker

    tigerhonaker Platinum Contributor

    May 24, 2006

    Kia's new Magentis has the 'power to surprise'

    2007 Kia Magentis

    JIM ROBINSON and Road Worthy
    May 24, 2006

    HARRISON, B.C.: Surging ahead with the big V6 pulling me by and around a conga line of RVs snaking through the Fraser Valley, I signaled and turned in, my sedan doing just what I wanted, causing me to say mentally, could this really be a Kia, not a Euro sports sedan?
    It's fairly common knowledge that Kia (in conjunction with sister Korean carmaker Hyundai) is committed to becoming the fifth largest car company in the world by 2010. What isn't so generally appreciated is the light speed at which Kia has closed the technology/manufacturing gap with those at the leading edge in so little time.

    Kia only opened shop here in Canada in 1999 with a smattering of vehicles that were admittedly crude, but at the same time, very cheap. While others in the same bag like Daewoo couldn't cut it here, Kia with the help of Hyundai, made the same strides to catch up in half a decade that it took the Japanese to do in three.

    And while the proof Kia has arrived was evidenced last year in the Sorento compact SUV, the new Magentis nails it. It looks good; it goes fast, stops without drama, has loads of interior and trunk room and costs something like $3,000 less than the equivalent Camry and $2,000 less than a Mazda6. And while Kia doesn't like to admit it, the new Magentis spells trouble for cars like the Mazda3, Honda Civic and Nissan Versa because it costs about the same and brims over with standard features.

    But as good as it is, Kia faces a hard sell with not just Magentis, but the whole line because they are so new to the market.

    Kia spokesman Dean Tesser, who was recently appointed marketing manager, comes from more than two decades at Ford. When he joined Kia, he did a little private research and asked people on the street to name two Kia models.

    "I found they could name one, but rarely two," he said. For the record the lineup includes the new Magentis, Sportage, Spectra and Spectra 5, Rio and Rio5, Sorento, Amanti and Sedona.

    The point, Tesser said, is "Kia currently has the youngest inventory of any carmaker in Canada and that is something we are going to be emphasizing." In fact, no Kia model is older than two model years.

    The new Rio is making Kia and its dealers happy, because they can't meet demand and that is fueling a buzz among consumers that Kia is worth a long look.

    The 2007 Magentis puts Kia solidly in the running in the mid-size sedan category.

    There are two basic front-engine, front-drive models based on two engine sizes: the LX and LX Premium four-cylinders and the LX-V6 and LX-V6 Luxury. The first two are equipped with a 2.4-litre, DOHC inline four-cylinder with 161 hp and 163 lb/ft of torque with a standard five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic manual shift mode. The latter two versions have a 2.7-litre; DOHC V6 with 185 hp and 182 lb/ft of torque and the only transmission offered is the Steptronic. Fuel numbers for the 2.4-litre with the manual are 9.6L/100 km (29.4 mpg) city and 6.3L/100 km (44.8 mpg) highway. The 2.4-litre automatic gets 9.7L/100 km (29.1 mpg) city, 6.4L/100 km (44.1 mpg) highway. The V6 automatic numbers are 10.6L/100 km city, 7.1L/100 km (39.8 mpg) highway.

    Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard, as is Electronic Brake Force Distribution. Stability control and Traction control are offered only on the LX Premium and the LX-V6 Luxury. Also standard are dual-force front, front side and full-length curtain airbags. Other standard features include air conditioning, power windows with anti-pinch protection, heated seats, heated mirrors, keyless remote entry, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise control functions and a six-speaker audio system.

    The LX-V6 Luxury with the leather trim package seems more like a near-luxury sports sedan in looks and spunk. The V6 is flexible across the torque range with the gearing of the Steptronic automatic making good use of it all. My co-driver, like her fellow Quebec colleagues, is no slouch behind the wheel and she steamed along through the lower Fraser Valley remarking throughout on the tractability of the chassis/suspension/steering.

    The base LX four-cylinder manual starts at $21,895 which is less than the $22,450 for the outgoing 2006. The LX-V8 has a start price of $21,895, that is $1,855 less than the equivalent 2006 Magentis. A fully loaded LX-V6 Luxury is $27,795.

    For my part, the four-cylinder was surprising because of its willingness to put the power down. I only drove the five-speed manual. Trapped behind lines of tourist-speed drivers, passing was something I did a lot. The Magentis would hum along in third with the revs up around 3000 and a touch of trailing throttle, just right for getting a jump on the pass. I watched the tach swing up to around 6,000 before changing up to fourth gear by which time I had completed the pass. Passing four in a row meant getting up to fifth with the clutch biting solidly with no loss of power or revs on the upshifts. I was having fun!

    The only downside of this was getting used to the clutch take-up from a stop. I found myself feeding in the power and easing up on the clutch pedal only to have it bit like a pit-bull causing me to jerk forward. My Quebec pal stalled twice at one traffic light. With age, use and familiarity, a strong clutch proves to be a friend in the long run because it abets spirited motoring. But like a Porsche, it takes practice and patience.

    Handling is night and day different from the 2006, a car that's nice enough if a bit slow with quality of ride that's strongly on the boulevardier side. The 2007 Magentis abandons dual wishbones at the front for MacPherson with an independent multilink setup at the rear. While the pundits always say wishbones make for superior handling pointing to F1 racers, BMW has been using MacStruts for more than 30 years on the 3-Series that is considered the benchmark for sports sedans. And with the MacStruts being 139 pounds lighter than the wishbones they supplant, it can only add to the quality of the ride and handling.

    The new four-cylinder is not only 16 per cent more powerful than the one it replaces, but it is also 45 per cent lighter because it is all aluminum rather than cast iron. Couple this with an all-new chassis and it's not surprising the Magentis goes and feels like it does. It's a real indicator of how the Koreans have listened, looked and learned and how they had narrowed that manufacturing gap.

    Kia thinks the four-cylinder is going to be the big seller in the Magentis mix, accounting for something like 70 per cent of sales. Tesser said Kia sold 2,000 of the 2006 Magentis in Canada. For 2007 internal projections are for 5-6,000 for Tesser saying he thinks it will be closer to 10,000.

    And it's all starting to pay off. At this writing, Kia is coming off its best quarter ever and April set a one-month sales record.

    Kia is using the slogan "the power to surprise," and that's just what's going to happen when customers take the new Magentis out for a test drive.

    Body Style:

    Mid-size sedan.

    Drive Method:

    front-engine, front-wheel-drive.

    Engine: 2.4-litre, DOHC inline

    four-cylinder (161 hp, 163 lb/ft),

    2.7-litre DOHC V6 (185 hp, 182 lb/ft)

    Fuel Economy: 2.4-litre, manual, 9.6L/100 km (29.4 mpg) city and 6.3L/100 km (44.8 mpg) highway;

    2.4-litre automatic, 9.7L/100 km (29.1 mpg) city, 6.4L/100 km (44.1 mpg) highway; V6 automatic, 10.6L/100 km city, 7.1L/100 km (39.8 mpg) highway.

    Price: Base LX four-cylinder, $21,895; LX-V6 $23,995; LX-V6 Luxury, $27,795
  2. AZBrandon

    AZBrandon Guest

    Those are Imperial gallons. Divide by 1.2 for US gallons. Also, the Canadian figures are more optimistic than US figures for the highway rating. By the Canadian ratings, you're looking at 24.5mpg city, 37.3 highway.

    For comparison, the Civic LX is rated at 30/38 in the USA, but that same exact car (in fact they come from the same factory in Canada) is rated at 30.1/41.3 mpg. Since the Civic is 8.6% optimistic by Canadian ratings, applying that correction to the Kia would reduce it's projected USA highway rating to 34.3.

    So we end up looking at ratings of 25/34, which is real close, although fractionally less than what the very slightly more powerful Honda Accord is rated at (26/34). It's good to see they've cought up, since IMHO this will keep Honda on their toes to try and do even better with the next generation Accord 4-cylinder's fuel economy.

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