Kia Kia Kia In This Month's Letter From Europe
European Bureau Chief
Covid Relocation, San Francisco
San Francisco CA January 14, 2021; I had absolutely no idea of the full extent of Kia and Hyundai problems with engine fires.
Over the years I have tested several, all were just fine and a remarkable value for money. In fact in last month's letter from Europe I raved about the Telluride as one of the best SUVs I’ve ever driven. A friend of mine drives one and as a former fighter pilot in Vietnam he knows his cars and planes.
Both he and I were astonished that Kia would be recalling 295,000 older model vehicles and paying a $70 million dollar fine due to delaying a recall for the risk of engine fires. The recall list which includes the Sorrento to the Forte was news to me, but clearly something must have happened, major car companies don’t just do recalls willy-nilly.
The Kia monetary penalty for delaying the recall included a $70 million dollars fine, which is petty cash compared to what VW had to pay for dieselgate.
Anyway, I have been testing the Kia K5 which is the replacement for the Optima.
The two top versions are the ERX and the GT-Line. Kia K5 is a mid-sized sedan and the trim options are a legion.
The GT-Line I had for a few days was very impressive indeed. For a start it looked stunning in dark metallic blue and the grill was far more attractive than the ones on Lexus which-once removed -could function as a major BBQ tray with enough room for several rows of sausages and grilled vegetables.
To my astonishment the K5 came on Pirelli P Zeros, the sort of tires you would associate with Ferraris, Lambos and Maseratis. Gloss black 18 inch wheels, mean looking. I am not sure that most customers would know just how good these tires are and should just be grateful.
The instrumentation is first class which makes a change from requiring a degree in mechanical engineering to figure it out.
You would also need a degree to see the styling differences at the front, the slot for the fog lamps in the give away on the GT-Line. The gloss black mirrors are another clue. What really matters is what is under the hood and here the EX and the GT-Line are very different. The GT-Line’s 1.6 liter engine is turbocharged, the rest of the range isn’t.
The GT Line has a superb steering wheel the sort of thing you notice after lesser examples in other brands. All in all I was very impressed first of all with the highly competitive price-under 30 thousand dollars-and the way Kia are taking the fight to Toyota and Honda.
They have launched a new logo with stunning fireworks in Seoul, if my understanding is correct, it made it into the Guiness book of records. You can watch the complete show by
The brand is coming back in leaps and bounds and as I’ve said in the last Letter from Europe The Telluride is a serious class act. The Koreans have been very clever. They have offered huge salaries to top designers and engineers and the results are here for all to see.
As for the recall fines, it is simply a matter of more inspectors on the production lines. I worked for Ford Motor Co so I know the importance of getting it right on a production line and also the importance of coming down on the suppliers like a ton of bricks because things like wiring loops are not made in car factories. That's it for this month, stay safe, stay well and let's all toast the brilliant scientists and doctors whose vaccines can bring us back from the brink.