Letter from Europe, Masks, Kia's, Ferrari, Pacifica and Driving In The Rain To Suzie
by Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
I’ve been in sticky situations before but this one is unique. LIke everyone else I am at home having taken my mask off. Talking of which the Number One gift you can give to someone at present is an N95 mask made in the United States. Why I hear you ask? Because a lot of the ones imported from China are faulty. Just like their ventilators.
But what about automobiles? After all I have been European Bureau Chief for something like 25 years and for the first time I cannot go see cars and certainly cannot see any aeroplanes.
I can on the other hand see the blue sky and can hear the birds chirping like never before. So dear reader I am sure you can understand my predicament. But the facts are that blue sky or no blue sky I am still getting cars for test and it is my job to write about them.
So here we go with a brace of Kia's.
Unless you are a massive car buff you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between a Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD and a Kia Forte GT.
The Forte does have Michelin Pilot tires which I’ve noticed immediately as these French tires have always been No 1 in my book. The factory is in Clermont Ferrand, a truly beautiful part of France and away from the “beaten track” which is the autoroute from Paris to Nice. You don’t want to be there when French holidays start..talking of France...
I have just been watching for the 10th time that classic movie from 1966-A Man and a Woman. In French with English subtitles. Total magic from beginning to end. No wonder it was an Oscar winner. A bit like Casablanca-a must see.
Without giving too much away the hero drives a Ford Mustang and after finishing the Monte Carlo rally he gets a telegram from the lady he is pott about. It just said “Congratulations, love Anne” at which point he left the banquet, jumped into his car and drove overnight in the pouring rain to Paris.
Reminded me of the day I was in Monaco and got a call from my wonderful wife Suzie to say that she had just arrived from San Francisco to London. You can probably guess the rest, I got into my much loved Ferrari 328GTS and drove non-stop to London. The look on her face was worth it and will stay with me forever.
But I digress. Neither the Seltos nor the Forte are Ferraris but very comfortable well-equipped automobiles at very competitive prices. Both are under 30 thousand dollars and the number of so-called extras which are included are simply mind-blowing.
The reason for saying this is simple. The Mercedes which just landed outside The Auto Channel has a sticker price of 40 thousand dollars which becomes 57! Before you can even blink!
The Forte GT costs a truly remarkable 26 thousand dollars which included 2200 dollars worth of extras such as a brilliant Harman/Kardon premium audio system, forward collision avoidance warning and lots more.
As always I love beating the official figures issued by the manufacturer's with regards to fuel consumption. As you can see from the photo I achieved a stunning 37.5 miles per gallon and no, I wasn’t doing 25 miles per hour.
Even more important are the Government’s safety ratings. The Forte GT has 5 stars -which is the maximum- for crash impacts-front and side.
On the road ride, and handling is fine, more sporty than say the electric Kia-s of the same size. Talking of which I do think that Kia’s strength in the B class category lies in EVs in which they are in a class iof their own.
As I’ve said before the company never had a stylist, they are about honest to goodness automobiles which will never win design awards. Wish I had as many dollars as the number of Design Award cars that have hit the dust.
Finally, last but not least Chrysler’s Pacifica Hybrid.
A mean looking Albatross. In ceramic grey it looked pretty mean and it was.
Let’s be honest. How can I recommend an SUV which has a fuel economy of 1 out of 10 costing 50 thousand dollars. And yet the Pacifica has a great deal going for it. It carries a lot of people in great comfort, 20 speakers and truly all the mod cons, you and your large family would like for a trip to Tahoe with all the gear.
Confession: our family has had a Jeep for something like 8 years, never missed a beat. It is still going strong. Just think that while the Pacifia offers a great deal and is good value it could use a new, more modern engine. Soon.
Stay Safe Stay Well