Korean war on wheels

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

EV­ERY time I get to think­ing about Kia I’m re­minded of my younger brother Keith.

As the el­dest in our fam­ily, I was a bit like Hyundai.

I had some good ideas, and I got there first, but Keith al­ways man­aged to take what I’d be­gun and im­prove things.

When I started as a pa­per­boy I was happy to clear about $20 a week but he lifted that to more than $40 on the same route and put it all in the bank. No frip­pery or splash­ing on mo­tor mag­a­zines, that’s for sure. He was also way bet­ter at any­thing prac­ti­cal, tougher on a football field and first to head out from home.

Just last week I was driv­ing the new Hyundai Sante Fe and was im­pressed by the de­sign, space, qual­ity and seven-seater prac­ti­cal­ity. The steer­ing felt wonky and the ride was floppy but, all-in-all, it was a very im­pres­sive thing.

This week I’min the lat­est Kia Sorento and it’s al­most the same as the Sante Fe— no sur­prise there, since they’re among the Hyundai-Kia clone cars— but a bit bet­ter.

I think the driver’s seat sits way too high for com­fort and con­trol but the Sorento’s sus­pen­sion is mas­sively bet­ter and the steer­ing is good.

It also feels more to­gether and a lit­tle qui­eter. The ex­tra re­fine­ment in the Sorento means I will al­ways rec­om­mend it be­fore the Santa Fe.

It’s much the same as the Kia Sportage, which I pre­fer over the Hyundai ix35.

It’s the same in the Kia Rio that trumps the Hyundai i20 and holds the Cars­guide Car of the Year crown. And it’s the same in the mid-sized Op­tima, which is way bet­ter than Hyundai’s i45.

Look at the sales fig­ures this year. Hyundai is up by 4.9 per cent over 2011, hold­ing fourth in the charts.

Kia is only 11th but its num­bers are up by 26.9 per cent.

Kia has the ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage of build­ing up from the ba­sics set by Hyundai in ev­ery­thing from cabin size to en­gines. It scores with the styling work by de­sign ace Peter Schreyer and also has Aussie sus­pen­sion guru Graeme Gam­bold on the books. The Schreyer-Gam­bold dou­ble-punch lands ev­ery time, which could partly ex­plain a ma­jor change at Hyundai that puts for­mer Holden mar­ket­ing boss John Elsworth into the driv­ing seat this week.

He’s go­ing to lead a more locally fo­cused man­age­ment team and its task will be to de­liver what Aus­tralians want in their cars, while hold­ing the prices and value at the level Aus­tralians ex­pect from Korea.

He could do a lot worse than to take a look and a drive in some­thing with a Keith— sorry, Kia— badge.

Fam­ily feud: Kia’s Sportage­wonour four-car SUV com­par­i­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.