KIA Expansion Plans

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KIA Expansion Plans


More or less carrying on from where they left of in 2017, #Kia’s unswerving aim of world automotive dominance is still under full swing. New or refreshed, Kia recently unveiled four updated models from the slightly beefed up X-Line Picanto, the GT-Line and GT-Line S Sorento SUV and the second of the intended Stinger performance saloon car range. But whilst certain modifications might actually need pointing out to the average customer, what can’t be denied is the increased selection Kia has introduced. Basically, whatever model, spec or price you’re looking for, there’s a Kia that’ll drop immediately into place.


Starting as the entry level model it might initially seem strange that the new #Picanto actually required any modifications . Called the X-Line and only available with the 1.25-litre 4-cylinder engine, the slightly more butch Picanto endeavours to cash in on the current craze for SUV’s. Bigger SUV style bumpers and ersatz skid plates increase the standard Picanto’s width and length whilst a marginally increased ride height lifts the little car if only by a fraction. Projector headlights flank the new grille and fog light surrounds add to the effect as does black cladding around the wheel arches in which now sit 16” alloys. Designed to tackle the demands of what Kia describes as the ‘rigours of urban life’, whilst the latest edition to the Picanto range gives buyers yet another city car option, the crossover urbanisation of their smallest car does at times seem to have fallen ever so slightly short.


Bristling with torque vectoring diffs, stability management and control, hill start assist and autonomous emergency braking, the Picanto still remains one of the lightest, friendliest and most competitively priced cars of its type but the miniature urban cruiser part doesn’t quite gel basically due to one detail. Larger, more aggressive wheels that actually look wider would complete the X effect rather neatly, as it is the Picanto X-Line looks remarkably like the more standard versions of which there’s nothing at all wrong with.


The largest of Kia’s SUV AWD model, the 7-seater #Sorento remains something of an unsung hero. With their spectacularly successful Sportage remaining Kia’s largest seller in both 2WD and AWD variations, the Sorento has seemingly been left to its own devices. Still a premium SUV, the environmentally friendly 197hp 2.2-litre diesel has now been mated to a more refined and fuel economy orientated 8-speed automatic transmission although the manual 6-speed still remains. The 2018 upgrades also include the more sportier GT-Line and GT-Line S specifications that improve the large SUV’s visual perspectives. Both sat on 19” alloys and 235/55 rubber, the revised front end now includes Kia’s now trademark ‘Tiger Nose’ grille whilst both GT versions now incorporate projector front headlights and twin chrome exhaust tailpipes.


Internally the Sorento’s cabin has been updated and enhanced from the quality and styling of the seating to the improved instrumentation and sensibly clustered controls. Improved stability and traction systems now work in closer conjunction with the Sorento’s Dynamax intelligent AWD or driver engaged 4x4 distribution and advance towing systems whilst the stiffer chassis has significantly improved the Sorento’s quality of ride and handling. One of the most subtle large SUV’s on the market, neither the GT-Line nor GT-Line S scream their presence and are all the better for it. However, the Sorento remains one of the most under appreciated premium SUV’s on the market.


Where Kia has taken a most unusual step is into the performance car market. A radical departure from Kia’s usually fashionable yet slightly reserved offerings, the new #Stinger not only hints at the manufacture’s trans-Atlantic styling but introduces a high performance premier fastback saloon car onto the UK market. A grand tourer in nearly every respect, the Stinger also hits the executive segment as hard as any of the established brands. Based on Kia’s 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show concept, the Stinger isn’t only a brave move it also demonstrates Kia’s intent and direction.


Low and as rakish as it style, the Stinger makes a bold statement. Elegant, purposeful, low riding and a car that begs you to drive it, its the car’s performance that astounds. Currently powered by a smooth 244hp 2-litre turbo charged 4-cylinder petrol engine or a 365hp twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 petrol with a 2.2-litre 197hp diesel unit when it arrives on these shores, the performance of all the Stinger variants is a revelation.


Transmitting power just to the rear wheels via a silken 8-speed automatic transmission, the range topping GT S comes complete with electronic suspension damping, red calliper Brembo brakes, a 510Nm of torque V6 powers the Stinger to 60mph in 4.7 seconds and onwards to 168mph, figures now giving the established performance brands sleepless nights. But it isn’t just the mechanicals that define Kia’s Stinger. The cabin is well appointed, comfortable and the equal of any car in its class whilst the handling, grip and ride quality are once again equivalent to the best of their type. So not only do Kia build sensible, reliable and reasonably priced cars, they now build high performance saloons that demands to be taken very seriously.


One interesting revelation from Kia is their stance on diesel power. Seemingly to regard the current demonising of diesels as an almost subversive plot, the Korean manufacturer’s current and pending range of Diesel engines are as clean as any to be found if not more so. To that end nearly all existing and future Kia models will feature a diesel option that defy what this casual observer can only described as governmental misinformation and hypocrisy.


On the road prices for the new Kia are £12,595 for the Picanto X-Line, the GT-Line S Sorento will cost you £41,995 or £32,695 for the lesser spec manual although still AWD KX-2. The current three model Stinger line up starts at £31,995 for the GT-Line, £35,495 for the GT-Line S both models being powered by the 2-litre engine or £40,495 for the fire breathing V6 GTS. And its now safe to say that with the V6 Stinger, Kia’s motto of ‘the power to surprise’ has never rung truer.


Look out for a full more in-depth review of the new Kia line-up coming soon!


By; Mark Stone