Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive Kia Rondo -

THE Rondo is not a par­tic­u­larly pretty car. It looks func­tional and won’t scare horses, but there are more at­trac­tive de­signs on the road.

It is, how­ever, prac­ti­cal. The rear-door open­ings are huge and ac­cess to the sec­ond and third rows of seats is eas­ier than you’d imag­ine.

The rear hatch is larger than in most com­pacts. The low height of the hatch door could be an is­sue, but it still leads the class.

Re­gard­less of how much de­scrip­tive lan­guage is used to sell the com­fort of a three­row com­pact, physics and a tape mea­sure rule the day.

With a slid­ing sec­ond row of seats it is pos­si­ble — with the good­will of the front-seat pas­sen­gers — to reach a rea­son­able com­pro­mise on pas­sen­ger leg space.

How­ever, do not imag­ine you are go­ing to be able to put even a small amount of lug­gage in the re­main­ing space be­hind the seats.

Plenty of prac­ti­cal stor­age cor­ners are scat­tered through­out the car.

Ten cup and bot­tle-hold­ers, var­i­ous knick-knack trays, a good-sized cen­tral bin and an un­der-seat tray all have ev­ery­day ap­pli­ca­tions.

On the move, the Rondo has short­com­ings, mainly in the com­bi­na­tion of sloth­ful en­gine and less-than-en­tic­ing au­to­matic gear­box.

The en­gine’s 106kW are ad­e­quate to keep it rolling along if the road is open and the ter­rain flat.

The lack of torque (189Nm) is high­lighted when the road slopes up­wards or you have to over­take.

It is a case of plan well ahead and have plenty of op­tions to abort be­cause the urge in the crit­i­cal 80-120km/h range is aw­ful.

Where Kia has made con­sid­er­able ad­vances is in the ride and han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics of the car.

It is no sports car but the grip is good and the gen­eral de­meanour of the chas­sis is in line with what you would ex­pect from a well-sorted fam­ily car.

The steer­ing is a lit­tle vague — the Rondo is not alone in that — but it shows lit­tle ev­i­dence of kick-back or bump-steer un­der load, and has no hint of ner­vous­ness on the open road.

Ride qual­ity is good for the price, and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how a full load of pas­sen­gers af­fects what is a rea­son­able per­former.

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