Listening to the enthusiastic staff from Kia NZ talking up their product and politely and tactically avoiding any comparisons with their global twin Hyundai, takes one back to the old days of Austin and Morris.
For a mechanic in the days when Japanese cars were as scarce as hens teeth on NZ roads, and the mention of a country like Korea manufacturing cars on a global scale in the future would get you placed in a straight jacket, the only difference between working on a Austin and Morris was where to find the bonnet pull lever.
Differences were mainly confined to exterior and interior design. Specification levels may have altered a little but essentially they were the same vehicle sharing all the main under body components such as engines, transmissions, suspensions and brakes.
Sadly history will show they also shared the same mechanical problems and design faults which kept garages and mechanics busy for many a year.
With Hyundai and Kia being designed and built on similar platforms and sharing main components and technology, the similarities to the British seem relevant except for one or two important factors. Build quality, performance and reliability is outstanding and is continuing to help push both Kia and Hyundai further and further up the sales charts.
Already, they are placed 7th in total sales on a global basis. The similarities between Kia and Hyundai will grow even stronger in the future with a reduction in platforms from the current twenty-two down to seven on which to build their models.
Sharing similarities with the highly acclaimed 2.4 litre Hyundai Sonata should be seen as a compliment for the all-new Kia Magentis sedan, but for this review we will endeavour to make our evaluation based on the vehicle as an individual stand alone model.
Two engines are being offered at present, both petrol powered, but don't be surprised to see a diesel option in the future as Kia see a big future for the high compression engine in a number of their models. First up is the 2.4 litre, which produces 121kW of power and 223Nm of torque and offers a claimed fuel consumption of 8.6L/100km, which is 8% better than the old outgoing 2.0 litre Optima power unit.
For those wanting additional performance, a 2.7 DOHC V6 that generates 138kW and 247Nm of torque is the alternative choice. Based on the 2.5-litre Optima's Delta engine, improvements include continuous variable valve timing, a variable intake system and electronic throttle control.
Claimed fuel consumption for the 2.7 litre engine is 9.2L/100km. Our past experiences with the Kia product has indicated fuel consumption figures higher than the norm so any reduction in this area will be welcomed.
Both the 2.4 and 2.7 litre engines are matched to a 5-speed automatic electronic sequential sports shift transmission. This alone should help improve fuel consumption. No manual is offered.
The Magentis is loaded with safety and comfort equipment to entice potential buyers into the showroom. Standard features on both models include; 8-way power drivers seat, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering, climate air-conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, audio and cruise control controls on the steering wheel, rear parking sensors, electronic stability control, six airbags, anti locking brakes, active headrests and ISO-FIX child seat anchor points.
The 17-inch alloys are fitted with Michelin silica rolling resistance tyres to assist in improve ride and aiding in the economy stakes. Upgraded audio systems, power sunroof, 4-way passenger power seat, leather with suede insert upholstery are the additional standard features on the 2.7 litre variant.
Roomier than a lot of its competitors, the Magentis has enough luggage capacity to take four full sets of golf clubs without compromising cabin space. While the rear seat back can be released from the boot to maximise its load carrying capabilities.
Suspension is by way of MacPherson Strut on the front and multi link rear, which provided a more than adequate road feel during our brief test drive on press day.
An attractive looking sedan, the Magentis only re-enforces Kia's growing reputation of being a serious player in the new car market.
A lot of motorcar is offered for anyone looking at value for money, the 2.4 litre model is priced at $33,150 while the 2.7 litre V6 is retailed at $37,990. These prices include a 5-year / 100,000km warranty programme as well as on road costs and a full tank of fuel.
Things have come a long way since the days of the Austin and Morris.