Corporate / Product

Congratulations, Australia! August 17th, 2010

Hello. My name is D.K. Lim of the Overseas Product Team and I am in charge of Kia powertrains as well as our large passenger cars and RVs.

Generally, the ride and handling of our new cars have been developed to suit the specific road conditions, environment and driving characteristics of various regions of the world.

In other words, a Sportage sold in Europe will look pretty much the same as a Sportage in the US or Korea. However, drivers may feel some difference once they get behind the wheel.

Roads in European countries like Belgium tend to have rough surfaces and are full of curves while drivers there enjoy high speeds. As such, European drivers prefer vehicles that deliver a hard ride and immediate response. In contrast, the US mostly has wide and long-stretching roads that are well paved. Long-haul driving is also common in the US. That’s why American drivers look for riding comfort and neutral handling. Korean drivers have similar preferences as their US counterparts. That said, not all drivers fit these descriptions. Unlike other European countries, the emphasis in the UK on ride and handling is rather different. Because the UK has more unpaved roads than other parts of Europe and leans towards sporty driving, Kia cars sold in the UK have different ride and handling qualities than those sold in other European countries.

Australia, however, presents a tricky situation.

In some ways, the vast continent appears to have similarities with the US. However, Australia is also similar to Europe due to its unpaved roads, long-haul driving and unique bitumen paving.

For that reason, some Kia cars have the same ride and handling characteristics as those sold in the US while others share the same qualities as cars sold in Europe.

But things will be different from now on.
In October, the Kia Forte (known as Cerato in some regions) 5-door will debut in Australia where hatchbacks form the mainstream in the C-segment. The Australian launch of Kia’s rising star, the all-new Sportage, is also in October. Kia’s Australian sales subsidiary put in a request for the Forte (sedan, KOUP and 5-door) and Sportage to have their ride and handling tailored to Australian needs. About one million vehicles are sold annually in Australia, which is rather low considering the huge land mass (Annual car sales volume is also one million in Korea). Nevertheless, the Overseas Product Team and the Vehicle Testing Team of our R&D center in Korea decided to accept the request given the strong determination of the Australian sales subsidiary to achieve a dramatic brand transformation based on high expectations for the Forte 5-door and Sportage. Members of the two teams traveled to Australia and went on an extended tour around the country with local automobile journalists and local Kia personnel. The cars taken on the tour were the Sportage 2.0 (gasoline 2WD, diesel 4WD), Forte 2.0 and of course several competing models.

During our tour, we experienced all the road conditions in Australia, from urban driving, highways and country roads to unpaved roads, bitumen roads, winding lanes and deserts.

It was a grueling schedule with extensive driving every day, standing meetings every two hours, and evening wrap-up sessions. But everyone enthusiastically contributed their views.

On the last day, we reached a consensus on the best ride and handling for Australia and drew up a master development schedule. It marked the end of a review, development and application process based on organic cooperation between the product, research and Australian sales units.

For many months thereafter, the three units exchanged opinions and proceeded with sample development, installation, review and corrections. Eventually, we developed a Forte and Sportage with chassis and suspension characteristics optimized for Australia. These were Kia’s first cars tuned specifically for the Australian market.

The Forte and Sportage specially developed for Australia will arrive at local Australian dealerships in October.

Congratulations, Australia!

  • Geoff

    Interesting article, thanks for taking the time to write about my own country’s Kia vehicles.
    Recently in the press here in Australia I read an article about the new Sportage, specially tuned for Australian conditions.
    Regards,
    Geoff (from Australia)

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  • OttoAu

    Bring the Forte GPL/Hybrid LPi here!!

  • Pat

    Thanks for that. I have taken the car for a test drive in Australia & the hard work has paid off, it’s a great drive. Any news on when slight annoyances like lack of blue tooth & power reach adjustment on steering wheel will be fixed. There are many news stories here that say this will be fixed before the end of the year as more cars come into Australia but nothing from Kia.

    Also if the above are fixed how quickly can we also get a diesel model. Some dealerships are saying to forget about it as there are none coming to Australia. Can we order one & what is the wait time?

  • Peter

    I’m looking at buying the Kia Platinum. Can I get a replacement CD / SatNav / Bluetooth system for the existing radio? What size is the area of the radio? I’m surprised that Kia don’t offer a SatNav system in the Platinum why was this?

  • Denis Faulkner

    Hi All
    I have looked at the Sportage Platinum (yet to drive) am impressed with the Build Quality .
    Could you let me know when the vehicle will be fitted with Bluetooth and Sat Nav.
    I will be buying a new car January 2011 and was wondering also is it possible to order vehicle with those specs and a larger fuel tank (65 lt) or greater.
    Love the design well done .Have owned Subaru in the past.
    Regards
    Denis

  • Dean Robinson

    I have ordered a Platinum – Diesel model which the dealer advises me will be here by the end of the month, color was a bit of an issue as there really was only the silver to choose from.

  • Ian May

    Never would I have given much thought to Kia as an option in my search for a new vehicle. However, a friend recently purchased an example of the “old” Sportage and encouraged me to “ave a look at the Kia range.”
    I am very impressed!
    The new Sportage Platinum diesel is at the top of my list now. The fit, finish, features and overall package is very impressive. I have had the opportunity to take a mid-range diesel automatic Sportage for a quick drive and can’t wait for a Platinum model to become available for me to give it a thorough weekend test drive.
    Why spend the extra hard earned cash for a European badge, when Kia offers it ALL at a fraction of the price!

  • Jewel Cho

    I have already booked a Kia Sportage Diesel in Brunei. I was just wondering if the new Kia Sportage Diesel is optimized for our diesel(Euro 1 specs) here. Thanks.

  • stan bec

    AS A PERSON LIVING IN COUNTRY TOWN IN AUSTRALIA,AND QUITE INTERESTED IN BUYING A KIA SORRENTO 4WD PREMIUM CAR,I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW HOW THIS PARTICULAR SYSTEM WORKS.E.G. WHAT DOES PART TIME ,IN KIA SPEAK, MEAN.UNFORTUNATELY NO JOY ON THIS MATTER FROM SALES STAFF,KIA WEB SITE,OR EVEN PHONING KIA AUSTRALIA,WHO SIMPLY GAVE ME A DEALERS PHONE NO.INFORMED ADVICE WOULD BE APPRECIATED,STAN.

  • I have 2008, 2.4 litre automatic Magentis/Optima. It is an all round excellent motorcar. I want to know :-
    1. The specifications for the 16″ wheels on the car with a view to replacing them – ie offset, wheel stud spacing, size of centre hole – Kia helpline says it doesn’t know and refers me to the service dealer who also says they don’t know and further that these specs are not in the workshop manual. Can someone help me please
    2. I want consider a lpg conversion – Kia Australia stone-walls on the statement that Kia apparently make a special engine for Australia which is not lpg compatible – I can’t find any other country where Kia says this – I therefore would like to know what is/are the shortcoming(s) of the engine in my car, and if this/these can be easily rectified? Is this the same engine as a Hyundai Sonata 2.4? Can someone help me please?
    Information from Kia would be preferred, but other help will be gratefully received.

  • Harry Ray

    Hey just waiting on the Sorrento update. I hope it incorporates the features found in the new Sportage.
    An integrated Nav sat in the sound and info module is the way to go.
    Give it the option of 5 seats, alloy front bumper and a long range tank will be definitely an unstoppable winner