ON THE ROAD
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.