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Kia Niro 2016

Kia Niro prices revealed: £21,295 for new hybrid crossover

Kia Niro 2016The new Kia Niro launches in the UK next month and ahead of its dealer debut, Kia has confirmed prices for the hybrid crossover will start from £21,295.

Kia’s only offering the Niro with a single 1.6-litre GDi petrol-electric motor for simplicity’s sake: the 139hp hybrid can return up to 74.3mpg and emit as little as 88g/km CO2, immediately giving it eyebrow-raising green potential in a crowded crossover sector.

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That’s only for 1 and 2 grade models though: 3 and the launch First Edition have larger alloy wheels and non-eco tyres, which pushes CO2 up to 101g/km and reduces average economy to 64.2mpg.

All models come with a six-speed DCT automatic transmission, which operates in a parallel hybrid manner – most of the time, petrol and electric motors work together but the Niro can also run as a full EV.

The direct injection petrol engine runs on a fuel-saving Atkinson cycle, the first Kia to do so. It produces 104hp but is boosted by the 43.5hp electric motor. 0-62mph takes 11.1 seconds and the top speed is a slightly weedy-sounding 101mph.

Kia has confirmed there will not be a regular non-hybrid version of the Niro – but there will be a plug-in hybrid with an enhanced electric-only driving range.

Crossover competitor

Kia Niro 2016

Because Kia already sells the popular Sportage compact SUV, it’s designed the Niro to be a bit smaller: at 4,355mm long, it sits in between the Cee’d hatch and Sportage (this places it roughly similar in size to a Nissan Qashqai). A long wheelbase boosts interior space, promises Kia, while a 427-litre boot betters a Volkswagen Golf.

All Niro have 16-inch alloys, climate control, LED running lights, cruise control, DAB radio and a speed limiter. 2 grade adds 7-inch touchscreen sat nav with reversing camera, part-leather seats, roof rails, rear privacy glass, reversing sensors and electric-fold door mirrors with LED indicators. It costs £22,795 and is likely to be the best-seller.

3 grade costs £24695 and has a larger 8-inch touchscreen sat nav system, eight-speaker Premium stereo, wireless smartphone charger, heated leather seats (with an electric driver’s seat), front parking sensor and those CO2-punishing 18-inch alloys.

The launch First Edition costs £26,995 and has a comprehensive haul of active safety tech: autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection and smart cruise control. The front seats are ventilated and the rear seats heated, and they’re trimmed in unique grey leather. It also has an electric sunroof.

Kia says the arrival of the Niro in the UK next month is a key part of it cutting the average emissions of its range by 25% before 2020.

Kia Niro prices

  • 1.6 GDI hybrid 1: £21,295
  • 1.6 GDI hybrid 2: £22,795
  • 1.6 GDi hybrid 3: £24,695
  • 1.6 GDi hybrid First Edition: £26,995
Kia Niro heading to Geneva: the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

Kia Niro heading to Geneva: is it the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

Kia Niro heading to Geneva: the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

Kia has revealed the petrol-electric hybrid Kia Niro will make its European debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show – signalling the start of a plan to roll out a series of eco-friendly models by 2020.

Described by the firm as a ‘hybrid utility vehicle’, the Niro is set to make green alternatives more appealing to the general public. Essentially, by packing a Prius-like drivetrain into a trendy and affordable crossover, it could make sense for people who have traditionally been wary of hybrid vehicles.

The Niro combines a new four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 32kW electric motor and a six-speed dual-clutch auto ‘box. The transmission is based on the same architecture as the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission used in the Kia Cee’d.

Kia says this provides a more entertaining drive than a traditional CVT transmission – a dig at Toyota, and something that might help encourage drivers from their combustion-engined cars.

Kia Niro heading to Geneva: the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

The combined output from the Niro’s hybrid powertrain is 141hp. The crucial economy figures are yet to be confirmed, but Kia says it’s targeting 89g/km CO2.

At 4,355mm long, the Niro is slightly longer than the Nissan Juke – allowing it to offer greater practicality than its rivals. The boot offers 421 litres of space – 67 litres more than the Juke.

Buyers will also be able to fit an optional tow bar to the Niro, allowing them to tow braked loads of up to 1,300kg.

Kia Niro heading to Geneva: the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

Inside, there’s a choice of a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with sat-nav optional. Both systems support Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio. It’ll be the first Kia to feature Android Auto, allowing the driver to use apps on their phone through the infotainment screen – such as Google Maps navigation and Google Play music.

Production of the Kia Niro will start at the manufacturer’s Hwasung plant in Korea in May 2016, with European deliveries due to follow later in the year.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but rumours suggest it could significantly undercut the £23,295 Toyota Prius.

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage: Two-Minute Road Test

Kia SportageThe Sportage is Kia’s best-selling car in the UK, meaning this fourth-generation model has a tough act to follow. The recipe is a familiar one: a five-seat family SUV with a choice of diesel and petrol engines, plenty of equipment and a long warranty. We’ve tested the 114hp 1.7-litre diesel in modest ‘2’ spec – priced at £22,050.

What are its rivals?

This is one of the most hotly-contested areas of the new-car market. The Kia’s rivals include the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Renault Kadjar and Volkswagen Tiguan. It also squares up to the mechanically-identical Hyundai Tucson, which is better looking (to our eyes, at least), but comes with a shorter warranty (five years, versus seven for the Kia).

Kia SportageWhich engines does it use?

Our 114hp Sportage 1.7 diesel gets to 62mph in 11.1 seconds and returns 61.4mpg in official tests. Pay around £2,300 more for the 134hp 2.0 diesel and those figures drop to 10.1 seconds and 54.3mpg respectively. There are also 130hp and 174hp 1.6 petrols – the latter with a turbocharger. And you can choose from six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.

What’s it like to drive?

The Sportage’s high driving position offers a commanding view of the road ahead, although visibility to the sides and rear isn’t so good. Its controls are light and nicely-weighted, and suspension effectively cushions you from speed humps and potholes. However, the pay-off is more body-roll than some rivals when cornering. The engine has plenty of low-down oomph and performance feels adequate for a car of this type. It sounds quite gruff, though – even when warmed-up.

Kia SportageFuel economy and running costs

The Sportage is relatively cheap to buy, but running costs could be higher than many competitors. The 1.7 diesel manages 61.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km – equating to car tax (VED) of £30 a year. Compare that to the 110hp Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi, which ekes out 74.3mpg and a tax-free 99g/km.

Is it practical?

Space is one of the Sportage’s strengths. It can accommodate five adults with ease (there’s no seven-seat option), and reclining rear seats add a touch of luxury-car comfort. The 491-litre boot is one of the largest in the class, with a low lip and square tailgate making it easy to load large objects.

Kia SportageWhat about safety?

As you’d hope, the Kia scored a full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Mindful of the car’s potential for driving off-road, Hill-Start Assist and Downhill Brake Control are standard, along with Trailer Stability Assist for towing. Our ‘2’ spec car also gets automatic headlights and Lane-Keep Assist, but you’ll need to upgrade to the top-spec ‘4’ for Automatic Emergency Braking.

Which version should I go for?

Diesel engines make most sense in SUVs, and the entry-level 1.7-litre unit tested here is perfectly up to the job. Considering its cost and efficiency advantages over the larger 2.0 diesel, it looks like the obvious choice. Kia offers virtually no extra-cost options (apart from paint colour), so you need to choose your spec-level carefully. We think ‘2’ offers everything you need, including sat nav, dual-zone air conditioning and a rear-view camera.

Kia SportageShould I buy one?

The latest Sportage builds on the strengths of the outgoing car, with good road manners, lots of space and impressive value for money. Shame they made it uglier in the process; the old Sportage was a bit of a looker. It wouldn’t be our first choice in this closely-fought class (the Renault Kadjar is currently top of our list), but it’s certainly a strong contender – especially for buyers on a budget.

Pub fact

Kia may be a relatively new name in Europe, but the marque has existed since 1944. For many years, Kia built bicycles – its first car (a rebadged Mazda) didn’t appear until 1974. It’s now Korea’s second largest car manufacturer, after parent company Hyundai.

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage (2016): Two-Minute Road Test

Kia SportageHow do you replace the best-selling car in your range, a car so popular that in its final year it sold more than ever? That’s what Kia has to face up to with its Sportage crossover. The car that’s being superseded was a winner, with good looks, solid build quality and strong value.

The 2016 model carries over many of these attributes, except the adoption of the snub nose from the cheapest Kias has done it no favours. That’s in complete contrast to the rear profile, which is stand-out classy.  Yet we’ll almost certainly grow accustomed to the new look and let the real attributes of the latest Sportage be the arbiter.

Nissan Qashqai

What are its rivals?

This is one of the most hotly contested areas of the new car market. The best seller by a big margin is Nissan’s Qashqai, with every other manufacturer scrabbling for a slice of the action.

The new Hyundai Tucson is a direct alternative to the Sportage – they share the same parent company and beneath the skin these two cars are all but identical. Then there is a long list of alternatives, including the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Yeti, Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan.

Kia Sportage

Which engines does it use?

The range is largely familiar from the previous model, although each engine has been improved and refined to give better economy and lower CO2. The big seller is the 1.7-litre diesel, which comes with a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. The 2.0-litre diesel has four-wheel drive, 134hp or 182hp, with the option of automatic transmission.

The 1.6-litre petrol engine continues as the budget offering that few actually buy, but Kia is pinning hopes on a new 1.6-litre petrol turbo. That has four-wheel drive, a punchy 174hp and can be specified with an advanced double-clutch automatic transmission.

Kia Sportage

What’s it like to drive?

This latest Sportage is rather nice to drive, notably better than the model it replaces and as good as its best rivals. There’s a new steering system that feels sharp and precise, yet never heavy. The driving position has plenty of adjustment so it’s easy to find a satisfactory position. Top models get electric seat adjustment, and most get electric controls for the lumbar support, although inexcusably not on the front passenger seat.

The Kia Sportage ‘First Edition’ comes as a highly equipped introductory model, with the 182hp 2.0-litre diesel and six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a sweet combination, quiet and refined with punchy acceleration when you need it. Yet the 1.7 diesel model, with just 114hp, also provides a pleasing drive, never feeling short of power, albeit a bit gruff-sounding when you try to get the most from it.

The new 1.6 turbo petrol provides the most engaging drive of all. There’s ample power at all times with a quick, responsive pick up in acceleration when you demand it. The manual gearchange is very smooth. Take with a pinch of salt the ‘GT-Line’ branding, because the sporting pretensions are only about the body and interior trim. This is a crossover, after all, not a sports car.

Kia Sportage

Fuel economy and running costs

Kia has never been close to the best in class when it comes to economy and CO2 in the Sportage. The 2.0-litre diesel engine was behind the technical curve, and when coupled to the six-speed automatic transmission was genuinely disappointing. Yet the changes Kia has brought about have made significant improvements.

That 2.0 diesel returns 54.3mpg, or 47.9mpg in auto form, on the discredited statutory fuel economy test. CO2 emissions are 134g/km and 154g/km respectively. Pick the more powerful diesel and the figures are 47.9/44.8mpg and 154/166g/km CO2.

The most popular model is the 1.7 diesel, where we saw mid-forties in our test-drive. Kia claims 61.4mpg and 119g/km CO2. The new 1.6 petrol turbo is naturally heavier on fuel, 37.2mpg and 177g/km CO2, although the automatic version is actually marginally better.

Kia is buoyant about the resale values of the new Sportage, which independent guides say will be better than the Nissan Qashqai. No doubt the seven-year warranty helps here. Running costs should be low, as you can buy into three years servicing for just £299.

Kia Sportage

Is it practical?

Practicality is the reason so many people buy crossovers and SUVs. Both the space and the visibility afforded by the higher driving position help the appeal. But enthusiasm should be tempered a little, because the luggage area is often no better than a hatchback, and almost certainly less than that you get in an estate car.

The Sportage is good case in point. The boot area is only average, partly because there’s still a spare wheel under the floor (this time a space-saver) rather than a puncture repair kit favoured by others.

This new Sportage is a little longer than before, and that helps push up the rear legroom, so there’s plenty of space for adults front and rear.  With the large panoramic sunroof fitted to the higher specification cars, the interior feels light and airy, and certainly a step up in quality. The dashboard, particularly, has a classy look in the First Edition variant, helped by the lighter colouring to the lower panels.

Every model but the cheapest now gets satellite navigation, a reversing camera and dual-zone climate control as standard. Seat comfort is good, with improved padding. However, the lack of lumbar support and seat-height adjustment for the front passenger seat is a mistake.

Kia Sportage

What about safety?

The new Sportage already has a five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP tests. There are clever electronics that stop the car from rolling backwards on a hill start, or deploy the side airbags should the Sportage start to roll over. Pick the top KX4-4 or First Edition and there’s a radar system to brake the car automatically in an emergency. You also get help with parking in tight spaces.

Kia Sportage

Which version should I go for?

Most drivers will go for the 1.7 diesel, which makes the most economic sense in view of its economy, CO2 and price. But if it’s four-wheel drive you need, you’ll have to pay more and contend with inferior economy. Yet the 2.0 CRDi diesel is a good choice and with the improved specification of the Sportage, you get all the important features in the ‘KX-2’ grade, which is £24,300. The equivalent 1.7 CRDi is £22,050.

The new £24,350 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line petrol turbo model could appeal if you have been put off by recent bad press for diesels, but you’ll suffer at refuelling time and the resale value is likely be lower than the equivalent diesel.

Kia Sportage

Should I buy one?

Yes, you should. The new Sportage is a compelling package, the improved driving experience and new levels of comfort and refinement make it something of a no-brainer. Of course, if you want a dynamic drive you’ll need to look elsewhere, but hey, this is a crossover.

Value for money looks good, especially as there’s little need to spend more than £25,000 to get all you need. And the sheer simplicity of operating the controls, the navigation and the media centre knocks into touch the tiresome reliance on touchscreen menus of many rivals.

Kia Sportage

Pub Fact

SUVs (including 4x4s and crossovers) were the best-selling class of car in Europe for the first time ever in 2015. The Nissan Qashqai took the top spot in the compact sector with the Volkswagen Tiguan second and the old Kia Sportage third.

 

 

 

Kia Pro_Cee’d GT: Two-Minute Road Test

2015 Kia pro_ceed GTCan the head rule the heart when it comes to choosing a hot hatch? To be a truly great hot hatch, a car must have an ability to set the pulse racing long before an ignition key has been twisted. Anticipation is everything.

So can the recently refreshed Kia Pro_Cee’d GT – complete with a seven-year warranty – mix it with the hot hatch establishment? Or, after a week behind the wheel, does satisfaction kill the desire? We borrowed a (very) Liquid Yellow Kia to find out.

What are its rivals?

02_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

Let’s establish one thing from the outset, the Kia Proceed GT – if you’ll allow us to use the more sensible version of its name – isn’t able to mix it with the big league hot hatches. So put aside any thoughts that it could be a cut-price Volkswagen Golf GTi Ford Focus ST or Renaultsport Megane.

The clue is in the name – this is a GT and not a GTi. The little ‘i’ makes all the difference. So think of the Kia Proceed GT as a rival to the Peugeot 308 GT, Hyundai i30 Turbo and Renault Megane GT 220.

Which engines does it use?

03_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

The 1.6-litre T-GDi engine was the first turbocharged petrol unit to be offered by Kia in the UK and it has been reworked for the refreshed Proceed GT. Power remains the same at 204hp, but 195lb ft of torque is now available from 1,500rpm, rather than 1,750rpm in the old model.

Kia quotes a 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds and the Proceed GT certainly feels brisk. Blisteringly quick, no, but certainly quick enough. It’s not the most characterful of engines, which is perhaps why Kia has chosen to fit an electronic sound generator to the new Proceed GT…

Press a button on the steering wheel and a ‘more distinctive and exciting’ engine note enters the cabin. At the same time, the analogue speedometer goes digital, complete with torque and turbo gauges. The sound isn’t the worst we’ve heard, but it can get a tad irritating when you’re not on it like Rob Bonnet.

What’s it like to drive?

04_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

Within a few miles of driving the Kia Proceed GT you’ll begin to appreciate just what a great all-rounder it is. It may not hit the high notes of the very best hot hatches, but you can still dance to a very merry tune along your favourite B-road.

This is definitely a warm hatch you could live with on a daily basis, as the ride is surprisingly comfortable, even with those 18-inch rims shod in Michelin Sport tyres. The steering is nicely weighted, if lacking in outright feel, and there’s a good level of grip. It even stops well, largely thanks to the new 17-inch front brake discs, up one inch compared with the previous Proceed GT.

Fuel economy and running costs

06_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

On paper at least, the claimed 38.2mpg is perfectly acceptable for a petrol-engined warm hatch, but don’t expect to get anything close to that if you use the Proceed GT to its full potential. CO2 emissions of 170g/km put the Kia in VED band H, resulting in a showroom tax of £295 and annual car tax of £205.

It’s worth remembering the 1.6-litre turbocharged Peugeot 308 GT offers figures of 50.4mpg and 130g/km, so although the warm Pug is more expensive to buy, it should be cheaper to run.

Is it practical?

05_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

If you want the most practical version, Kia has a ready-made alternative in the shape of the five-door Cee’d GT. That said, access to the rear seats is surprisingly easy, although you’ll need to allow for the wide doors when parking. We found access rather restricted in a tight multi-storey car park.

There’s a useful 380 litres of boot space, which swallowed pretty much all the Christmas presents we forgot to order online. Which actually turned out to be rather a lot. You can also fold the 60:40-split rear seats, although at 1,225 litres, the Proceed does give up 93 litres compared with the Cee’d. Up front, there’s plenty of space and storage, including a useful area in front of the gearstick, with enough space to put a charging smartphone next to the well-positioned USB port.

What about safety?

07_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

The Kia Cee’d was awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating when it was tested in 2012. The new brakes help to reduce the stopping distance at 62mph from 36.4 metres to 35.2 metres. Given the brakes and a poor soundtrack were two things criticised in the earlier car, it’s good to see Kia has listened to feedback from its drivers.

The Kia Proceed GT also features brake assist and hill-start assist control, which prevents you from rolling back on a hill.

Which version should I go for?

08_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

There’s only one Proceed GT on offer, so your choices are limited. That said, it’s very well-equipped, including a heated D-shaped steering wheel (a first for Kia), keyless entry and start, DAB digital radio, seven-inch sat nav screen, xenon automatic adaptive lights, rain-sensing wipers, heated seats, reversing camera and dual-zone climate control.

Your only decision is the choice of colour. Do you opt for Track Red, Fusion White, Phantom Black or the new Yellow Flame? This colour divides opinion, but we reckon the Kia wears it very well. And it certainly stands out. The Proceed GT received more than its fair share of admiring glances, although the signature ice-cube LED lights certainly help.

Should I buy one?

09_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

Don’t look at the Proceed GT as a rival to the Golf GTi or Focus ST, as you’re likely to be disappointed. But that’s not the end of the story, because by the end of the week we felt we could spend the next seven years with this Kia. It offers about 90% of the talent offered by the class leaders, with 100% of the reassurance offered by a seven-year warranty. Buy one today and it could see you through to the time when the pitter-patter of tiny feet demands something more practical.

What’s more, we think the Kia Proceed GT is one of the best looking cars you can buy. We’d go as far as saying it’s the best looking hot hatch, full stop. At £23,105, considering all the standard kit and warranty, we reckon it’s a bit of steal.

Pub fact

10_Kia_Proceed_GT_TMRT

The Proceed GT is the first Kia to be fitted with Recaro front seats. And it’s not made in Korea. Instead, the Proceed GT is built in Slovakia and is sold only in Europe. Because Europe – and especially the Brits – love hot hatches. Give the Kia a chance and you could find yourself falling for its charms. Your head can rule your heart.

Kia Telluride

Detroit 2016: Kia Telluride hints at new luxury SUV

Kia TellurideKia has revealed a bold concept called Telluride at the 2016 Detroit Motor Show that it says “suggests styling of a possible future premium large SUV”.

A signal of Kia’s desire to move ever-upmarket, the Telluride could preview a Kia rival to the Audi Q7 or Mercedes-Benz GLS – and certainly has styling bold and striking enough to make an impact.

Kia Telluride

More broadly, it also signals a desire to evolve Kia’s overall design language now the much-heralded Peter Schreyer styling overhaul has run through the full range.

Despite calling it “purely conceptual”, Kia’s surprisingly open on what the Telluride represents: it’s a three-row, seven-seat, full-size SUV that would sit above the existing Sorento (its current range-topper) in the model line.

Fascinatingly, Kia even reveals it’s based upon an existing platform (a stretched version of the current Sorento).

“While there are currently no plans to bring the Telluride to production,” says Kia, it “has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear strong resemblance to preceding concepts, and Kia’s large SUV is anything but a utopian fantasy.”

That makes it pretty much odds-on to us.

Telluride inside

Kia Telluride

It’s unlikely the rear-hinged back doors would make production, but there’s little to suggest the rest of it is not viable. Purposefully bold and upright, the rectangular grille, bulging wheelarches and glassy windows would go down very well in its key U.S. market, we’re certain. After all, it was designed there.

Kia Telluride

Inside, there’s a tech-laden cabin with lots of infotainment screens in the front and a fancy ‘Swipe Command’ touch-sensitive band for the second row: swipe commands control the media played through the high-end Harman Kardon audio system (or Harma Kardon headphones).

And under the massive bonnet? Again a ‘near-future’ PHEV powertrain combining direct-injection 3.5-litre V6 and electric motor: 400hp is made up of 270hp from the engine and 130hp from the motor.

All seems to point quite clearly to a new Kia luxury SUV range-topper coming in a year or so…

Kia teases brash SUV concept ahead of Detroit Motor Show

Kia teases brash Telluride SUV concept ahead of Detroit show

Kia teases brash SUV concept ahead of Detroit Motor Show

Kia has announced that it will unveil a new SUV concept car at next week’s Detroit Auto Show.

The concept – known as the Telluride – hints at a possible future premium SUV in the brand’s line-up – and it could be coming to the UK.

In a statement, Kia said: “Conceived at the automaker’s California design studio, the concept offers an abundance of advanced technology – including state-of-the-art health-and-wellness technology – and takes Kia’s design language in a bold new direction, suggesting styling of a possible future premium large SUV in the brand’s line-up.

“There are currently no plans for this concept to enter immediate production and decisions on which markets may receive a future production version will be made in due course.”

The concept highlights Kia’s first use of 3D-printed components, highlighted by this image of the dashboard, released today. The Telluride concept looks set to feature a minimalist interior, dominated by touchscreens and digital displays. Also note the stylish clock in the centre of climate control unit.

Kia-Telluride-interior

We’ll see the Telluride concept in the metal on January 11, when we’ll be reporting live from Detroit.

Kia Drive Wise

CES 2016: Kia brands autonomous tech Drive Wise

Kia Drive WiseKia is getting into autonomous cars in a big way – and at CES 2016, it’s even announced it’s creating a new sub-brand for the high-tech cars, called Drive Wise.

The umbrella brand for all its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Drive Wise will be the brand under which Kia’s planned 2020 partially-autonomous production cars are sold.

By 2030, there will be a fully autonomous Kia Drive Wise self-driving car in showrooms.

The announcement of Drive Wise follow’s Kia’s recent commitment to invest £1.3 billion into driverless cars tech.

At CES 2016, Kia’s showing plenty more of the Drive Wise tech it’s currently developing for launch in the next 15 years. These include:

  • Highly Autonomous Driving – allows a car to auto-drive at high speed and change lanes without driver input
  • Urban Autonomous Driving – self-drives through cities using GPS and road position sensors; can even respond to live traffic reports
  • Preceding Vehicle Following – follows the car in front at a safe distance
  • Emergency Stop System – automatically stops the car if the driver’s eyes stray from the road for too long (if they, say, fall asleep…)
  • Traffic Jam Assist – the car keeps going without crashing and even changes lane to move along faster
  • Autonomous Parking & Out – get out the car and park it by remote control

Tae-Won Lim, SVP, Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute of Hyundai Motor Group, said, “Kia is undergoing a very promising and gradual process of introducing partially and fully autonomous technologies to its vehicles.

“Although the first marketable fully-autonomous car from Kia will not be available in the immediate future, the work our R&D teams are currently doing to develop our range of Drive wise technologies is already improving on-road safety and driver assistance.”

New Kia Optima on sale from £21,495

Kia Optima UK prices

The all-new Kia Optima is on sale now and if you fancy one you’ll need to part with at least £21,495. That’s more than the entry-level price of the previous Optima, which cost upwards of £18,995.

But all isn’t quite what it seems, because the basic Optima 1 trim level has been deleted, with the Optima 2 now the base model. In total, four models are available, with – for the first time – GT and GT Line options to be added later. Kia is keen to position the new Optima as a more upmarket saloon, hence the deletion of the old base model.

Cutting-edge technologies

The Kia Optima is the first car in its class to offer a wireless charger for mobile devices and also packs a 360-degree Around View Monitor and Smart Park Assist. Autonomous Emergency Braking, Bi-Xenon Dynamic Bending Headlights, High Beam Assist and a wealth of other safety devices are also available.

Combine these with Kia’s acclaimed seven-year warranty and it’s likely more people will take notice of the new Optima. Indeed, Kia is hopeful the Optima will make a big impression in the fleet sector.

The 1.7-litre CRDi turbodiesel engine is more powerful than before, as well as being up to 25% more efficient. In manual form, the diesel-only Optima emits just 110g/km CO2, with the potential to return as much as 67.3mpg. With the new 7DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission, the CO2 emissions figure rises to 116g/km, with fuel economy dropping to 64.2mpg.

On the plus side, the automatic transmission is more efficient than the six-speed torque converter found in the previous Optima. A plug-in hybrid Optima will be added to the range in 2016. Similarly, the GT and GT Line versions will be available next year, but Kia hasn’t confirmed when the long-awaited Optima estate – based on the stunning Sportspace concept – will be launched.

[bctt tweet=”Kia is hopeful the Optima will make a big impression in the fleet sector”]

At launch, three tim levels are available – badged as 2, 3 and 4. The entry-level Optima 2 is manual only, the Optima 3 offers a choice of transmissions, while the Optima 4 is DCT only.

Generous standard spec

Standard spec is generous, with the Optima 2 offering a 7-inch satellite navigation system, reversing camera, steering wheel-mounted controls, dual automatic air conditioning, cruise control, heated folding mirrors, DAB radio, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and a host of other features that would shame the conveyor belt on the Generation Game. This is a seriously well-equipped car.

The £23,495 Optima 3 gains a larger navigation screen, electric driver’s seat, heated front seats, xenon dual projection headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a Harman Kardon premium sound system and a host of exterior and interior upgrades. The DCT transmission adds £1,400 to the price of the Optima 3.

The £28,895 Optima 4 is loaded with safety kit as standard, along with a tilt and slide panoramic roof, bi-xenon headlights, black leather upholstery with ventilated front seats and heated outer rear seats, plus rear window blinds.

Kia is also promising a more rewarding drive than before, with a 50% stiffer body shell that’s also 8.6% lighter than before. It’s fair to say we’re a little bit excited about the new Optima. It has always been a good looking car, but now – on paper at least – it looks like it might have the dynamics and the kit to go with it.

Kia announces £1.3 billion investment in driverless car technology

Kia announces £1.3 billion investment in driverless car technology

Kia announces £1.3 billion investment in driverless car technology

Kia has revealed ambitious plans to develop entirely driverless cars by 2030.

The Korean car company has said it will invest £1.3 billion into the development of the technology by 2018. The first goal will be to introduce partially-autonomous driving technologies, such as a remote parking system that will make a car park itself at the press of a button on the keyfob. Cars with this technology could be on the road by 2020.

Hyundai Group’s vice president, central advanced research and engineering institute, Tae-Won Lim, said: “Fully-autonomous vehicles are still some way off, and a great deal of research and rigorous product testing will need to be carried out to make the ‘self-driving car’ a reality. Kia is still in the early stages of developing its own technologies, and we are confident that the latest innovations – both partially and fully autonomous – will ultimately make driving safer for everyone.”

Smart Kia cars of the future will have a range of technologies focusing on three areas so they can function without a driver.

They will have new sensors so they can detect other vehicles, read the road ahead and identify poor driving conditions. Advanced computing systems will enable the cars to make decisions based on the information gathered by the sensors. And the computers will use their active mechanical and electronic systems to drive the car.

In order to reach this stage Kia will first work on three semi-autonomous systems. Highway Driving Assist will comprise a lane guidance system and smart cruise control. Traffic Jam Assist will take over around town and prevent the vehicle getting too close to the car in front. And, our favourite, the Remote Advanced Parking Assist System, will enable a driver to park their car simply by pressing a button on the keyfob.