Most Prized Vehicl
Kia’s new Rondo is the car you didn’t know you needed
THE automotive lexicon is littered with acronyms, few lesser known yet more accurate than MPV.
Multi-Purpose Vehicles (‘‘people-movers’’ as real people call them) do what they say on the label; certainly more so than almost most so-called compact SUVs.
And as for ‘‘ Sports Utility Vehicle’’? Please . . .
If your family numbers four or above; if you’ve the need to move people and goodly chunks of cargo or extravagant recreational equipment; if you value practicality above pose, then this is what you should be driving as opposed to joining the lemming-like stampede to jacked-up hatchbacks.
If it didn’t serve only to further muddy the waters, we’d suggest an alternate acronym for this class of car: SSSV. That’s School Shops Sports Vehicle.
These cars serve all those purposes. Furthermore they provide that coveted elevated driving position.
The newest— and one of the most convincing examples we’ve yet seen in this hardly overcrowded field— is Kia’s new version (‘‘all-new’’ as they say now, as opposed to the old one revamped) of the Rondo seven-seater. This is among the slowly increasing number of compact MPVs, one which in Kia’s case sits beneath the vast Grand Carnival people-mover.
Carsguide had a preview drive of the Rondo SLi diesel, released this week.
You can move masses of cargo, transport seven or pretty much whatever combination of sentient and inanimate objects you want, for the price of an upper-spec hatchback. The Rondo starts at $29,990 for the entry version with 2.0-litre petrol engine and tops out at $38,990 for the Platinum with satnav, 18-inch alloys and big sunroof.
As is usually so of Kia, the sweet spot in the middle ground. The SLi version is $33,990 in petrol form, $36,490 as a diesel.
Standard on the S are the usual infotainment options, 4.3-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth with media streaming, six-way driver’s seat adjustment, split-fold second and third row seats, heated electric folding mirrors and tinted glass. The SLi add-ons include 17-inch alloys, front parking sensors, daylight running LEDs, leather trim, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, side mirror-mounted indicators, roof rails and dual-zone climate control.
Essentially, the Platinum adds a bit of fruit and frippery. Choosing the SLi is made easier by the Platinum’s lack of a diesel option. All variants get a six-speed auto.
Built on a stretched version of the Hyundai/Kia small car platform (a stretched Cerato— now there’s a niche concept for you), the Rondo combines external compactness with a modular interior.
The engine choice is no choice at all. The 2.0-litre direct injection petrol engine gives good service elsewhere but we’d always opt for the extra grunt of the 1.7-litre turbo diesel. Such is its pulling power, we were almost persuaded there was a bigger engine at work.
It’s not a question of achieving some kind of illusory fuel figure— there’s not a lot between the petrol and diesel figures. Rather it’s a matter of the diesel’s ability to stand up more readily under loads heavier than yours truly and a few suitcases in the back.
The three-mode so-called flex steer system alters the weighting of the steering barely discernibly. The electric rackand-pinion set-up is said to feature a combined torque/ angle sensor to resist the effects of side winds, which might prove useful given the Rondo stands at 1.6 metres. Whatever, it’s usefully quick and direct at 2.7 turns lock-to-lock.
You can decry the perceived dagginess of people-movers if you must but you can’t show me a more cleverly designed vehicle at the price or one that’s smarter looking than this Euro-drawn device.
Sharp objects have become Kia’s visual stock-in-trade under designer Peter Schreyer and the fact he can make an MPV look almost cool suggests he’s a bit of a deity.
The SLi’s front passenger seat can fold forward. The second row slides and folds for a 35/30/35 split. The third row splits 50/50 and folds flat into the floor. The second row slides forward to ease access to the back.
Going with a basic rear suspension enhances luggage space. Even with all seats in and up, you’ll fit a bag of the team’s footy jumpers back there or a cricket kit. With the front and second row seats in use, there’s more boot space