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MPVs have long been a niche new-car segment, at best. Just look at the figures: 1256 large cars were bought and 5664 large SUVs to the end of April 2018, yet only 175 MPVs.Five brands all but carve up the market between them. Kia Carnival and Hyundai iMax sold 54 and 52 respectively, with Honda’s Odyssey third, at 43. The Japanese brand clearly hopes the new model will top that.
Subaru’s Outback has become a bit of a staple on New Zealand roads, if the number we spotted while taking our photos are any guide. And no wonder. For it offers many of the advantages of its Forester sibling, without making all the compromises a traditional off-roader demands.
Forget adverse preconceptions you have about Chinese vehicles: most folk seeing this Haval H9 assumed it was related to the equally large, equally bright white Toyota Prado we recently sampled. Even the cabin delivers few hints other than the steering wheel badge: after all, fake ‘wood’ and ersatz leather isn’t exclusive to China.
There’s nothing quite like a Subaru Legacy with sporting pretensions as a sleeper when a bendy road beckons. To the uninitiated you’re a sales rep in a comfy sedan, to the tarmac you’re a happy blur. And a comfy one, for this car might be quick, but it’s not willing to sacrifice the everyday amenities for that rare hard-edged Sunday blat.
Cover the badge, and you might think this Kia Stinger was from a European stable. Read the spec, and you’ll be more convinced. For this car’s sleek good looks and powerful rear-drive format are about as far from the traditional ‘Korean car’ stereotypes as it’s possible to get.
Kia recently updated its seven-seater SUV, the headliner being an eight-speed auto transmission that was designed in-house for stronger acceleration, and reduced emissions. But it also got subtle alterations to the look via revised bumpers, head- and tail lights, and new alloy wheels – 18-inchers in our EX test vehicle.
Given the severity of the storm that recently hit Auckland, it’s lucky we had an SUV for the weekend. Kia’s Niro drives only its front wheels and resembles a chunky hatchback more than it does a traditional off-roader, but it does deliver 160mm ground clearance, 20mm more than its Cerato hatch stablemate. And that made for greater assurance when driving a test route littered with debris.