Kia Rondo 7
A new price leader for seating seven
The availability of vehicles with the capacity to seat seven people is growing (almost) as fast as a well fed teenager!
The latest seven seater to arrive on the Australian market is the Kia Rondo 7, which is being distributed to Australia's Kia dealers this week.
Kia, the go ahead South Korean brand, is once again expanding their local offerings by adding the Rondo 7 to their Rio, Cerato, Magentis, Carnival, Grand Carnival, Sportage, Sorento and K2900 line-up. And additional models will be coming our way during 2009, with the news that a car based on the Soul concept car is coming. Additionally, Kia will have a small coupe and another SUV next year, too.
One interesting fact with the Rondo is that it is Kia's best selling model in Canada, with a 37% share of Kia's Canadian sales.
The Rondo 7 is a compact wagon, being just over 4.5 metres long. With a relatively long wheelbase (2,700 mm), the wheels are almost located at the vehicle 'corners'. This adds to the comfort level of occupants, especially those in the third row who are located above the rear axle (rather than behind the axle) which is a distinct advantage when travelling over the rougher roads of our nation.
To begin with, the new Rondo is available in a choice of four colours, White, Silver, Grey and Black. However, the colour choices will be amended in mid-year.
There are three grades of trim with the Kia Rondo. All have seating for seven, but the seats are adjustable to make quite a flexible interior arrangement to suit a wide variety of uses.
Pricing for the Kia Rondo 7
* Excludes dealer delivery and the various statutory charges.
Importantly, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) is standard on all models in the new Kia Rondo 7 line-up, as is driver and front passenger SRS air bags. Front side and curtain air bags are only fitted to the top-of-the-line EX-Limited model at this time but will be available as an option on the base and mid-spec models by mid-year.
Other key features include 4-wheel disc brakes (with ABS and EBD), central locking, driver's seat height adjustment, tilt adjustable steering column, air conditioning (climate control in the EX Limited), single CD player with the audio system, power windows and cloth seat facings (leather with the EX Limited).
Metallic Paint (all models) $350
About the seven seats
Sceptics may suggest that seven adults cannot sqeeze into a car which is just 4.545 metres long. And they would be wrong. Seven adults cannot fit into many sub-4.7 metre long vehicles, the Volkswagen Caddy Life being the one known exception. However, with a little compromise, it is possible to seat 7 adults in the new Rondo 7. Hence the 7 in the model name. The middle row of seats is adjustable, making leg room in the third row easy to manage. Having said that though, I have not checked the performance of the Rondo when seven people are travelling. Additionally, I must add that the passengers have no spare room if all passengers are adults. Further, in the interests of harmonious relations, I suggest it is a good idea if all occupants are freshly showered if seven people are loaded on-board during summer. That's because seven adults in a Rondo is, indeed, a sqeeze and is best suited for the urban run-around more so than a long distance commute. Bear in mind, too, that luggage space is absolutely minimal when seven people are on-board.
Technical features of the new Kia Rondo 7
The 2 litre 4 cylinder engine fitted to all versions of the Rondo is a derivative of the 2.4 litre engine fitted to Kia's mid-size sedan, the Magentis. It features twin-cam, 16 valves, continuously variable valve timing and die-cast aluminium engine block.
Engine and transmission choice
The 2.0 litre "Theta" engine is standard on all versions of the Rondo 7 and it is the sole engine choice. It provides 106 kW of power at 6,000 rpm. The torque is 189 Nm at 4,250 rpm.
A diesel engine will be offered in the Rondo 7 next year.
Transmission choice is simple. In the LX (the base model), there is a choice between a 5 speed manual (standard) or a 4 speed automatic ($2,000 option). On the mid-spec (EX) and high-spec (EX-L) models the auto is standard as the only transmission choice.
Fuel consumption and environmental footprint
Good fuel economy is going to be popular with Rondo drivers. The manual has a 'combined' usage of 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres, whilst the auto is rated at 8.6 litre per 100 kms on the combined cycle.
Regular unleaded petrol is the fuel of choice for the Rondo 7. Although, a diesel engine will be available during 2009.
CO2 emissions are rated at 201 grammes per kilometre for the manual Rondo and 206 grammes per kilometre for the automatic.
Obviously, few people will be disappointed with these figures.
Kia upgraded their warranty earlier this year.
The warranty period is now 5-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for privately registered vehicles (5 years/130,000 kilometres for business and commercial vehicles). Conditions apply, of course.
Any unused portion of the warranty is transferable to a new owner if a Rondo 7 is sold within the warranty period.
On the road in the new Kia Rondo
Kia has made a point of dealing with NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) with the new Rondo and, that considered, the first thing I noticed was that the NVH aspects of this new 7-seater has been addressed quite well. Although, there is a little wind noise around the 'A' pillar, once you get the speed up above the urban speed range. The Rondo is easy to drive and the quiet ride was appreciated. It isn't quiet like a Mercedes-Benz. It is quiet, for example, when compared to a Toyota Corolla. And that is good news and it is a feature which will please many families. The Kia Rondo is not a dynamic performer, with the engine providing adequate performance rather than good performance. But Rondo drivers may well prefer the good fuel economy rather than high performance. Having indicated that though, the Rondo impresses me because it doesn't do anything wrong. It is a compliant car that is bound to satisfy many folks who do not want a larger vehicle, but who do want part-time or full-time seating for seven.
There is a ready market for the Kia Rondo 7.
Although luggage space is minimal if all seven seats are occupied, the new Kia Rondo offers a great starting price, compact dimensions, good fuel economy, pleasant driving characteristics, Kia's exceptional warranty and a wide spread dealer network. And ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) is standard on all versions.
All that considered, there is no doubt that many people throughout Australia will be attracted to the new Rondo, just as they are in Canada.
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