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Tag / test drive

I remember the days when Korean cars is just an after thought for most when it comes to purchasing new cars, even as early only some 10 years ago, they weren’t viewed as something that is of equal to European and Japanese counterparts.

Fast forward to 2014, and things couldn’t be more different. I stopped by the KIA Roadshow at The Curve Mutiara Damansara to check out their latest models as well as a test drive last weekends and came away very impressed.

Kia roadshow at the Curve
KIA roadshow at the Curve

KIA took the whole centre court at the Curve and had it set up with the World Cup 2014 theme. There were five KIA vehicles being showcased around the green football field inspired carpet – Picanto, Sportage, Cerato, and Optima K5.

There were also official KIA merchandises, PS3 games, and even a KIA speed kicker game where you win a souvenir if you can kick a football over 100 km/h (I only managed 90 km/h)

official merchandise, KIA speed kicker game
official merchandise, KIA speed kicker game

At the centre of it all was the counter where you can register for a test drive.

For anyone who likes football, travel, or driving, this is a great news. If you register for a test drive, you are given 1 coupon which entitles you to enter into a lucky draw where winner gets to attend the 2014 World Cup semi-final game in Brazil! But if you booked a KIA for as low as RM200, you will be given 2 coupons to enter the lucky draw which gives you a higher chance of winning

Naturally I took a test drive, these kind of opportunity doesn’t come along often.

we test drove the Cerato 1.6
we test drove the Cerato 1.6

After filling up the paperwork (you have to have a valid driver’s license), I took the KIA Cerato to a spin around the block. I chose the Cerato 1.6 as it is priced below RM 100k, something that falls within my financial ability when it comes to a new car.

For vehicle of this class, I must say that the specification is rather impressive. There’s reverse camera, six airbags, brake assist, traction control, ABS, climate control (including vents for rear seat passengers), LED side repeater and puddle lamp (a light that illuminates the ground around the door before you step into the car), paddle shift, keyless entry, keyless ignition, and a healthy dose of controls available right at the driver’s finger tips.

the Kia Cerato is rather spacious and comes with a host of features
the KIA Cerato is rather spacious and comes with a host of features

The 1.6 litre petrol engine powering the Cerato is rated at a healthy 128 hp and mated with a 6 speed automatic transmission. Although we didn’t manage to take it to highway speed, the car showed good acceleration and handling around the block. Wind and outside noise is also minimal.

The car can host 5 adults comfortable, and also comes with a 421 litre boot space. As a comparison, my pretty good size fridge is about 380 litre.

The styling of the car too is also something that I find very attractive. Led by Peter Schreyer, the influential automobile designer at KIA certainly brought out fresh and original styling that appeals to this generation.

Kia Sportage comes in 5 colors
KIA Sportage comes in 5 colors

For active families, there’s KIA Sportage. (I had an old story with involving Sportage driven by Margie). The SUV starts just below RM 140k and comes with roof racks, sun roof, and can accommodate up to seven passengers.

the Picanto comes with 6 airbags
the Picanto comes with 6 airbags

The Picanto, on the other hand, might appeal to the first car owner and the younger generations.

While diminutive in size, the Picanto certainly doesn’t lack in features. It also comes with 6 airbags, LED daytime running light, electronic stability control, ABS, brake assist system, and rear parking assist system. The 4.9 meter turning radius should also make this car very easy to park and navigate around tight areas.

Optima K5 has a  4.3-inch TFT LCD and luxurious interior
Optima K5 has a  4.3-inch TFT LCD and luxurious interior

For ultimate in luxury and comfort, there’s the KIA Optima, a car with pretty much every important features found in all other models, and then some. This car is suited for executives and business owners who likes something classy, comfortable, while not lacking in driveability and safety.

For those who didn’t manage to visit the roadshow at the Curve, there’s upcoming KIA roadshow at KSL City on the 4th-6th April in Johor, and another KIA roadshow at KLCC on the 16th and 21st April, 2014. Don’t forget that you will also get the chance to participate in the lucky draw that might just put you in Brazil!

Thanks to AutoConnexion, the official dealer of Ford in Malaysia,I had a chance to take the Ford Focus 2.0 Sports for the weekends not long ago.

Ford Focus was the car that replaced the venerable Ford Escort (or Ford Laser in this region) about 10 years ago. The car I got was the newly face lifted 2nd generation Focus, the 2.0 Sports hatch.

Ford Focus 2.0 Sports

At first glance, I was quite impressed with the built of the car. The doors felt solid, workmanship on the exterior pretty much flawless, and the interior too was rather refined.

After adjusting the seats (manually) and steering wheel to make myself comfortable, I noticed that the visibility of the car was very good. Very big windshield and the small A pillars gives you a very clear picture of what’s happening in front, while the bigger than usual side mirrors offer a clear rear view. The smallish center rear view mirror though, is no different from most other cars.

Ford Focus 2.0 Interior

Meter cluster is mounted right in front of the wheel with the tachometer (red line at 6500 rpm) and speedometer sandwiching a central display and two smaller meters on top (temperature and fuel indicator).

The display is bright and pretty easy to read in both day and nighttime driving conditions, with the central display showing current fuel consumption, number of kilometers left for available fuel, outside temperature, current gear (with sequential shift), trip meter, and a few other information with the manipulation of a little control stick.

Ford Focus meter cluster

The car also comes with a 6 speed CD changer (with mp3 function) and 6 speakers that performs pretty decent for an OEM unit. There is also a steering column mounted audio control for changing radio channels, volume, track, etc.

Air conditioning performance is one of those things that is of supreme importance in this country. While this fully imported model still comes with heater, the air conditioning did not disappoint. Driver and passenger gets to control their own temperature zone, and there are also two air vents for the rear passengers.

Ford Focus 2.0 Sports

The ride of this car was actually pretty smooth and comfortable with a very good level of noise insulation. However, the car really shines when you attack the corners with heavier foot. While the 143hp engine with it’s 4 speed auto transmission isn’t exactly in the sports car’s league, it is pretty sufficient for city driving and those occasional spirited moments.

The price? RM 116k or so for both the sedan (with leather seats) and sports hatch model.