Kia’s updated Grand Sedona bus competes against the likes of the Hyundai H1 and VW Kombi.
Kia’s updated Grand Sedona bus competes against the likes of the Hyundai H1 and VW Kombi.

For what started out as a "cheap and cheerful" brand at the bargain-basement end of the South African market two decades ago, Kia has come a long way.

When the Korean marque launched here in 1998 with the humble Pride hatchback, it sold only 310 units in its first year. Today Kia Motors SA sells that amount in a week.

The brand was initially considered something of a poor cousin to Hyundai, which has a 33.88% stake in Kia, and for a while it trotted out well-priced but stylistically challenged vehicles like the Spectra, Sportage and Picanto.

But the tide turned in 2006 with the appointment of Peter Schreyer as chief design officer. The German, famous for styling cars like the Audi TT and new-generation VW Beetle, turned Kia into a more aspirational brand almost overnight.

With the introduction of the now iconic "tiger nose" grille and swoopy new curves, the new-generation Kia Sportage and Rio shed their formerly dreary clothes and adopted eye-catching designs that could share the spotlight with their debonair European rivals. The fresh new design theme, which coincided with better-equipped and more glamorous interiors, was adopted throughout the range on vehicles such as the Picanto, Cerato, Grand Sedona and Sorento. Kia also reinvented itself as a maker of better quality cars, and from 1999 to 2016 it improved from last to first nonpremium brand of the 37 nameplates ranked in the JD Power and Associates Initial Quality study in the US.

Coinciding with Kia’s 20th anniversary in SA the brand has introduced its fastest and most exciting car yet, the Stinger GT, a 270km/h grand tourer that competes against German sports sedans like the Audi S5 and BMW 440i Gran Coupe. We recently road-tested the car and you can read the online report at https://goo.gl/j93mnx.

Kia has also launched refreshed versions of the Grand Sedona MPV and the Sorento mid-sized SUV in SA.

The Sorento SUV is dolled up with new bumpers and sleeker tail lamps.
The Sorento SUV is dolled up with new bumpers and sleeker tail lamps.

Sorento

The Sorento’s an underrated SUV competing in the same segment as the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest, and Kia is hoping to gain some market share by facelifting the vehicle along with an updated cabin and upgraded standard specification levels.

The revised front end features a new bumper design and new projection headlamps and revised LED daytime running lights on higher specification models. At the rear are a new bumper and sleeker tail lamps, and all models ride on newly designed 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 235/60 R18 rubber. All models have a full-sized spare wheel.

Interior updates include a new steering wheel and gearshift lever, and a revised instrument cluster, while leather upholstery and a soft-touch dashboard help to create an upmarket ambience. Standard spec includes cruise control, six airbags and ABS brakes.

All derivatives offer seating for up to seven passengers, and with the third row seats folded away flat there’s a roomy 605l of luggage space.

Kia has ditched the 2.4 petrol, and entry-level and high-end models, and the Sorento range now comprises a mid-spec LX and a mid-high-spec EX derivative, both available with a 147kW/440Nm 2.2l turbodiesel engine, either with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. An eight-speed automatic gearbox with four driving modes replaces the old six-speeder.

Model range

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI LX — R569,995

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI LX AWD — R609,995

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI EX — R599,995

Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDI EX AWD — R639,995

The Grand Sedona has stretch-out space for up to 11 passengers.
The Grand Sedona has stretch-out space for up to 11 passengers.

Grand Sedona

For the 2019 model, the Grand Sedona people-carrier receives updates including revised bumpers and new reconfigured headlamps, with LED daytime running lights on higher specification models. Subtle interior upgrades include a redesigned fascia and new graphic cluster.

The petrol 3.3l V6 model falls away and only the 2.2 turbodiesel remains, paired with an eight-speed auto gearbox and front wheel drive.

Three trim grades are available, with the higher models variously laying on treats like park distance control, leather upholstery, a larger touchscreen, a wireless smartphone charger and electrically-adjustable front seats.

All versions have six airbags and ABS brakes, stability control and hill-start assist. Depending on derivative you either get seven or eight adult-sized seats with plenty of boot space included, while a 11-seater bus with minimal luggage room can be imported on special order.

Model range

Kia Grand Sedona 2.2 CRDI EX 7-Seater — R599,995

Kia Grand Sedona 2.2 CRDI EX 11-Seater — R615,995 (special order only)

Kia Grand Sedona 2.2 CRDI EX+ 8-Seater — R629,995

Kia Grand Sedona 2.2 CRDI SXL 7-Seater — R782,995

Prices include an unlimited kilometre/five-year warranty and five-year/100,000km maintenance plan and five-year roadside assistance.

* Kia Motors SA is celebrating its 20th anniversary in SA with a special promotion that will see a handful of Kia owners being able to trade in their old vehicle for a new one at no cost. By visiting the www.upgrademykia.co.za website, contestants can enter the competition by saying why they deserve a new Kia.

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