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Road Test

 

Kia Magentis EX Luxury


by Ian Barrett


8th February, 2008

 

Kia Magentis EX 
 
Click on the image for a larger view

As fuel prices climb, new family car buyers are increasingly moving away from large 6 cylinder vehicles, in favour of more economical medium sized fours. Families looking in this direction can't afford to ignore a strong new rival from South Korea - the Kia Magentis.

Offered as either a 2.4 litre four cylinder, or a 2.7L V6, the Magentis has what it takes to give the established brands a real run for their money. We tested the Magentis 2.4 litre EX in 'Luxury' guise (with the optional metallic paint) during a week of varied conditions and came away mighty impressed with what it has to offer discerning buyers.

From our very first glimpse, the Magentis impressed with its unsophisticated good looks. Stylish both inside and out, here is a vehicle well able to match the best of its rivals in that department! Kia is now very style conscious and their new design chief Peter Schreyer, formerly with Audi, is driving the future design direction of Kia, one of the world's fastest growing car makers. We can expect a few more pleasant surprises before too long. By the way, Kia sold 20,985 vehicles in Australia during 2007. This sales number is up from 2006 and, with a handful of new products already on the market and arriving this year, Kia is bound to increase sales still further.

But is the beauty only skin deep? Every Kia body shell goes through a multi-stage prime and paint process to safeguard against corrosion. A close inspection reveals very good fit and finish, with excellent paintwork, doors that close with a satisfyingly solid 'thunk' and close attention to detail in choice of interior colours and materials. The 17 inch alloys fill the guards nicely, giving the vehicle a sporting stance on the road. Front and rear fog lamps round out the exterior package. Kia has well and truly 'come of age'.

Kia Magentis EX 

Click on the image for a larger view

Weighing in at some 1,450 kg, the Magentis appears to be a safe and well built car. It features cutting edge passive and active safety equipment such as Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), front seatbelt pre-tensioners and 'active' headrestraints. Front brakes are ventilated discs, while the rear utilises solid discs. Together with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), they stop the Magentis very securely.

Of course, an important part of the safety equation is safe and secure handling and roadholding. The Magentis features McPherson struts up front, with a multi-link rear end. Combine this with high levels of grip from its quality Michelin 215/50x17 rubber and the final result is a very well balanced car which can be hustled along a twisty road with a high degree of confidence. We did note some torque steer under hard acceleration. Although not quite up with its top rivals, the handling gap is seriously narrowing.

Kia's Euro-3 compliant 119 kW 2.4 litre 4-cylinder engine is a DOHC design incorporating CVVT. It performs its allotted task very adequately. The tall gearing gives the Magentis nice long legs for relaxed freeway cruising. In fact, the tacho is showing only 2,150 rpm at 110 km/h, almost down there with some of the turbo diesels and large cars like the Commodore and Falcon! It's a smooth and quiet engine, with a claimed 8.6L/100km (combined cycle) fuel consumption keeping it near the top of the class, in this troubled market segment.

Transmission is a 5-speed auto with 'manual' mode. Left in full auto mode, changes were smooth and quick. However, we did find on longer steeper uphill sections of highway, that kickdown could be a little over-enthusiastic, sometimes dropping down to third before regaining its composure, particularly with cruise control engaged. To discourage such behaviour, a solution was to nudge the lever over into the 'manual mode' slot, but perhaps some slight recalibration is in order.

Kia Magentis EX 

Click on the image for a larger view

Once inside the luxurious cabin, passengers will note features associated with a much more expensive car. The Magentis is very well appointed and surprisingly roomy. Comfortable, well shaped seats front and back, together with a high standard of trim, make the cabin an appealing place to occupy. The driver is catered for with 8-way electric seat adjustment, easy to use steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls and adjustable steering column (both rake and reach). A beautiful patterned alloy finish on dash/centre console adds a touch of class.

The luxury version we tested boasts plenty of creature features to maintain the appeal. Apart from the mandatory power windows and mirrors, there is leather trim, leather-bound steering wheel and gear shift knob, 5 function trip computer, and climate control air conditioning with filter. On-board entertainment is provided by a 180 W, six speaker CD/MP3 sound system. However, a 6-stacker CD is an optional extra. Auto-on headlights are a nice touch, but could do with some fine tuning, as they tended to switch on somewhat later than we would prefer. Satellite Navigation and sunroof are not available as options.

The Kia Magentis 2.4 EX Luxury offers refinement and responsiveness, excellent safety levels and styling, with a host of standard features unmatched in its class. And don't forget that Kia, also brings you the security of a five-year/130,000 kms warranty (5 years and unlimited kms for private use vehicles).

Priced from $29,990 plus on-road costs (an EX version, with auto, is priced $27,990 plus on-road costs), we believe the Kia Magentis EX-L represents unbeatable value in today's competitive market. And we suspect many buyers will agree!


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