These days – for me at least – it’s almost impossible to think of Kia, without immediately thinking of the brand’s seven-year warranty.
It’s still remarkable to think that you can buy a new Kia in 2014, then sell it on, in 2017, with four years’ warranty left.
Of course, such an association could be a double-edged sword for Kia. A warranty brings peace of mind, but it doesn’t necessarily deliver excitement. Which seems at odds with Kia’s wild motor show concept cars and Peter Schreyer’s sharp design direction.
So the launch of the all-new 2014 Kia Soul and refreshed-for-2014 Kia Sportage is big news. The Korean firm will be hoping that the new faces will show customers that there’s more to Kia than just a pretty warranty.
It’s actually quite easy to forget that the new 2014 Soul is a second generation, mk2 model. At first glance, the changes to the exterior look minimal, but Kia assures us that none of the exterior body panels have been carried over.
Truth is, we were rather impressed with the new Soul when it made its debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. It somehow looked more taut on the outside and the interior felt a notch or two up on the previous model, which is an area where the Soul certainly needed improvement.
As for the new Sportage, well that’s more of a nip and tuck exercise, with a new front grille, new LED rear lights and a new range of alloy wheels amongst the new car’s highlights. Kia is also promising a host of noise, vibration and harshness improvements, along with a new and improved steering system.
The destination for the first drives is sunny Sicily, flying from Farnborough airport early tomorrow morning. But first, the small matter of the 200-mile journey from the West Country, via my second home – the A303.