Australian Ride & Handling “Localisation” Programme Success! March 9th, 2011

Hello. My name is Nick Reid, the Senior Product Manger for Kia Australia.

Mr. D. K. Lim of Kia’s Overseas Product Team wrote a great post back in August last year introducing Kia Australia’s ambitious project of tuning cars for local conditions and tastes. In short, D.K helped explain Australia’s automotive environment and the differences between global driving conditions and drivers tastes. He also explained the objectives of the Australian localisation programme and our desire to tune Kia models that deliver confidence and comfort on our fast and rough road conditions.

Confidence is the ability to drive the car through a corner, with it behaving in a secure and predictable manner. Comfort is more than just ride quality; it is the ability to arrive from a long journey feeling refreshed.

Since the program launched in early 2010 Kia Australia has worked tirelessly to maximise this opportunity and deliver on the programs objectives.

The first model to receive the Australian dynamic flavour was the all-new Sportage. In conjunction with Test Team 3 of Kia’s R&D center in Korea the Sportage underwent a comprehensive testing and development program aimed at developing a package which is more dynamic, refined and better suited to Australian conditions. Special mention and thanks goes to Test Team 3 who worked tirelessly on adapting the Sportage tune to Australia’s needs.

Launched in August 2010, the Sportage has received tremendous praise from the toughest critics of all – customers. The Sportage’s sales success in Australia cannot be questioned with demand outstripping supply 2 to 1.

The Australian automotive media has also recognised the Sportage’s overall package as being top of its class. A key factor behind this praise has been the media acclaim for the dynamic performance of the Sportage.

Here is just a sample of the great reviews the Sportage has received since launch:
“It’s easy to notice that the Sportage feels very stable, smooth and compliant on rough roads. Our quick journey took us through a series of gravel and loose-surface roads that highlighted the car’s well-tuned suspension”. August 2010
“Unmistakable when on the road – and one of the first things you will notice – is the quality of the damping and suspension tune. McPherson struts up front and an all-new multi-link rear, it is, for a car of this type, just right”. August 2010
“However long Kia spent tweaking the Sportage steering for Australia, it’s been time well spent. And it took just a couple of minutes behind the wheel of the AWD for the better feel and response to prove itself. It’s a big move forward for Kia, but they forecast it’s just the start of more local specification in their cars”. Carsguide. August 2010

The tremendous reviews from the motoring press were topped off by the resounding success of the Kia Sportage in the 2010 COTY season. Sportage was nominated for all major Australian awards – securing best SUV award for the Drive publications (Fairfax) and an impressive second place (overall) in the Carsguide (News Limited) awards.

The localisation program has also been applied across the Cerato (Forte) range and all-new Optima. Both these models have received critical acclaim from the Australian automotive media for their balanced dynamic characteristics and ride quality.

With success comes expectation and with little time to reflect on the success of the program we move on to the next project – the all-new Rio.

Special thanks to our supportive CEO M.K. Kim, also Kevin Ahn and D.K. Lim from the Product Planning team and each of the Vehicle Test Teams for their guidance, co-operation and their general willingness to go above and beyond to have made this program a resounding success.

  • Mymonaro2003

    It will be interesting to see the new Rio’s features when tuned to Australian conditions.

  • John Smith

    I love the Kia cars for Australia, and want to buy the 2012 Kia Optima (the one with the electronic parking break).

    Will the Australian Kia Rio, or the 2012 Kia Optima come with the new PSG “Parallels Shift Gearbox” or DSG as it’s sometimes known, and the Stop Start (ISG)?

    While the A6 (6-speed Auto) in the optima is beautiful, the rumored A4 in the new rio is a bit of disappointment – even though most cars in this class use A4, it would be nice for the Rio to lead the way with a A6 or CVT PSG/DSG.

  • Mymonaro2003

    I would like to see the following in the new Rio.
    1) Steering wheel controls for the radio/cd player
    2) Aux input socket for the radio/cd player
    3) Cruise control

    What do other people think?

  • Ps Oz

    Nick. Why is there no GPS available for the Kia Sportage? There is no sign of the UVO coming to the market, so why not offer the Md-7000x from Mercury International in Korea as a factory fitted option – customised to the Australia market. Then you would have a complete product. See

  • Jack Dekker

    Nick, I agree wih the suspension, but the computer display in dashboard in red is a big mistake in Australia. We got bright sky’s, one can’t see the display half the time. Please make it white on black.
    Jack D.