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Motoring News

2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID

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2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID
2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID

2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID

By EWAN KENNEDY

Neat shape of the Kia Niro leans in the direction of SUV rather than wagon.

Kia is getting very serious about the future of electrical power in all of its vehicles. It offers its small-medium Niro SUV in full electric, plug-in hybrid and basic hybrid format.

Prices range from $65,990 for the full electric Sport all the way down to $39,990 for the basic Hybrid S. We have tested all three in recent weeks, unfortunately Covid19 severely restricted our movements so we will concentrate on the hybrid in this review it’s likely to be the biggest seller.

When things settle down, we may be able to test the others and do full reviews on them.

STYLING
Kia Niro has a neat shape that works well. There is, of course, the Tiger Nose grille, which in EV format isn’t really a grille, but rather a series of dimples. We aren’t sure we like it, but we’ll leave you to come up with your own thoughts.

The Hybrid and PHEV do have a large grille that melds nicely with the headlights and the openings in the lower bumper.

The sides have full length indentations on the doors, the rear is squared off nicely to maximise load carrying rather than to give a sleek tail. The slim D-pillars make for good sighting when reversing into a parking spot.

INTERIOR

2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID

2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID

Fit and finish is to a high quality and the materials look to be from a car in the next price range up.

There’s good space in the cabin thanks to the squared off shape and good leg and knee room in the front seats. The rear is setup for three but, as is usually the case, the centre seat is best left to a slim person. Three children works fine.

The widescreen digital instrument cluster sits inside a tall binnacle which is very much in the traditional manner – we like that.

POWERTRAIN
Kia Niro Hybrid has a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and a 64kWh electric motor. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

SAFETY
All models have seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, radar cruise control, tyre pressure monitors, rear camera and parking sensors.

It has not been rated by ANCAP at this time.

DRIVING

2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID

2020 KIA NIRO HYBRID

Niro’s suspension is set up for Europe, where it has been on sale for several years. Australian drivers tend to lean in the direction of Europeans rather than Koreans or Americans so it’s likely to suit most drivers here. Tell your car salesman that you want to take it for a decent test drive to see if it fills your needs.

The steering was rather lighter than we like but feedback is good. It turns in well and follows the direction of the bends without any real need for correction.

Braking to charge the battery can be adjusted via the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. We like to put as much energy back into the battery as possible so we let the car do most of the braking. It can’t quite be driven as a one pedal car, but comes close to it.

Ride comfort is good and the car is generally very quiet. Some rough roads (sealed, not dirt) bounce it more than we like, but that’s all part of the endless comfort/handling compromise.

SUMMING UP
Kia Niro Hybrid is an impressive car at a realistic price. It does its bit to save the planet and we like that. Frankly we would rather buy the Hybrid rather than the Niro full electric as it costs far less – sorry about that planet…

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
Niro 1.6 S Hybrid: $39,990
Niro 1.6 Sport Hybrid: $43,890
Niro 1.6 S Plug-In Hybrid: $46,590
Niro 1.6 Sport Plug-In Hybrid: $50,490
Niro Electric S: $62,590
Niro Electric Sport: $65,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Niro 1.6 Sport Hybrid petrol/electrc five-door wagon)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 1.580 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 77 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 147 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 101 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4355 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1805 mm
Height: 1545 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1444 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Seven years / unlimited kilometres

Motoring News

KIA SORENTO PLUG-IN HYBRID INTRODUCED

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KIA SORENTO PLUG-IN HYBRID INTRODUCED
Kia Sorento now comes with electric boost for the first time

KIA SORENTO PLUG-IN HYBRID INTRODUCED

By EWAN KENNEDY

The Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid GT-Line is a low emissions version of the big selling Korean SUV. It’s the first electrified model in the Sorento line-up with its powertrain combining a turbocharged engine with a high-capacity battery pack and high output electric motor.

KIA SORENTO PLUG-IN HYBRID INTRODUCED

Kia Sorento now comes with electric boost for the first time

With a fully charged battery pack, the powertrain enables drivers to complete shorter drives on all-electric, zero-emissions power. Thus, you can drive a Sorento out of covered carparks such as those in major shopping centres and high-rise apartments.

The fourth generation Sorento was designed from the outset to accommodate electrified powertrains.

“The Sorento PHEV promises to push boundaries as one of the most versatile, practical and spacious plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market, and with the Sorento being an award-winning package, I couldn’t think of a better time to introduce the PHEV into the line-up,” said Kia’s Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith.

KIA SORENTO PLUG-IN HYBRID INTRODUCED

Kia Sorento now comes with electric boost for the first time

“Along with Niro range, the Sorento PHEV is another stride in the right direction towards a greener future. With the introduction of Sorento HEV and the highly anticipated EV6 next year, Kia will be lifting the electric vehicle benchmark to an all-time high.”

Sorento PHEV’s 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and electric motor between them have 195kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

Energy storage is managed by a 14kWh Lithium-ion polymer battery pack located under the vehicle floor. The large battery capacity allows the PHEV to travel up to 68km on electric power alone.

With the integrated Type 2 charging socket, you can use the standard 3-pin cable supplied with the PHEV – Type 2 to Type 2 cable or the charging point’s own cable. The 10.25-inch navigation unit displays nearby charging station locations and information.

The 12.3-inch driver digital cluster providing the status of the hybrid charging system, including fuel and battery levels.

New for the fourth generation and standard on the PHEV GT-Line variant, the latest Sorento models offer enhanced all-terrain capability thanks to a new Terrain Mode. Drivers can choose from ‘Mud’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Sand’ modes.

For Kia’s General Manager of Product Planning, Roland Rivero, the fourth generation Sorento is a game-changer in the Australian market.

“The Sorento has been a great success in Australia providing five-star safety and exceptional convenience levels in its segment, and the PHEV will continue to take the story forward,” said Rivero.

“Supply limitations impacting the automotive industry as a whole, combined with Sorento’s global popularity, has steered us to offering the Sorento PHEV in only the top of the range GT-Line for now.”

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RAM 3500 LARAMIE

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RAM 3500 LARAMIE

RAM 3500 LARAMIE

By EWAN KENNEDY

RAM Trucks Australia has released its all-new RAM 3500 Laramie, completing the roll-out of the range of RAM trucks here.

RAM 3500 LARAMIE

Big truck for a big country. RAM is not exactly a sinking violet.

Following on the heels of the recent 2500 heavy-duty and earlier in 2021, the new 1500 Laramie and Limited models RAM Trucks Australia now claims to have the most comprehensive range of official, factory-authorised, fit-for-purpose full-size pick-up trucks in the country.

The all-new 3500 Laramie underwent the same wide-ranging design, homologation, and manufacture processes that both the 2500 and 1500 models passed. For reference it included 50,000 hours of pre-build development hours; 80,000km of rolling road testing; 50,000km of real-world road driving; and a 20,000km full vehicle durability test.

“The all-new 3500 completes the task we set ourselves at the start of 2021: to deliver a full range of fit-for-purpose vehicles for the Australian consumer,” says RAM Trucks Australia National Manager Jeff Barber.

RAM 3500 LARAMIE

Big truck for a big country. RAM is not exactly a sinking violet.

“The 3500 is a remarkable vehicle that cements our product offering in 2021. Only RAM Trucks Australia can deliver such a vehicle thanks to our robust and detailed planning, development, remanufacturing, and testing programme in conjunction with our local and global partners including Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, US).”

Powered by a 6.7-litre inline-six Cummins turbo-diesel, the 3500 delivers 276 kW and 1152 Nm. It has a max braked towing capacity of up to 8.0 tonnes (Conditions apply contact RAM Trucks Australia for details).

With the same bold interior, engine, suspension, four-wheel drive system and specification, the all-new 3500 differs in its capabilities thanks to its two-stage longitudinal leaf solid axle. This allows a mammoth payload of up to 1724 kg.

With its braked towing capacity of up to 8.0 tonnes*, if you’re looking for a seriously luxurious towing vehicle nothing else comes close.

RAM Trucks Australia is the world’s only RAM-authorised manufacturer of right-hand drive RAM trucks. The relationship with RAM Trucks in the US began back in 2013 and continues to innovate to deliver a no-compromise, full-size pick-up truck that leads in durability, technology and efficiency.

All RAM Trucks Australia vehicles are international-spec vehicles, uniquely coded for the Australian market and the local build process. With over 400 locally-sourced new parts involved in its transformation journey from left- to right-hand drive, the all-new RAM 2500 sets new benchmarks in the full-size pick-up truck segment – a segment RAM Trucks Australia first created more than six years ago.

The all-new RAM 3500 starts at $162,950 plus on-road costs for Laramie Crew Cab.

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GRAND ENTRANCE BY GRANVIA

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2019 Toyota Granvia.
The Granvia shoulders the load previously taken by the Toyota Tarago people-mover.

GRAND ENTRANCE BY GRANVIA

By DEREK OGDEN

It’s ta-ta, Tarago; and a big hello to the Granvia. ‘Big’ being the operative word, for at more than five metres long, almost two metres tall, and tipping the scales at more than two-and-a-half tonnes, the new Toyota people-mover is no shrinking Violet.

While the Tarago paid its dues in the people mover market for 36 years, the Granvia takes the vehicle far beyond the friendly family transporter into the high-end hospitality and corporate buyers who appreciate style, cabin comfort and premium features.

The Granvia has six or eight seats, quality cabin and advanced safety systems that take the vehicle into modern minibus territory.

Available in two specification levels – Granvia and Granvia VX – the entry-level six-seater comes to market for $62,990, plus on-road costs, while the range-topping VX six and eight seaters share the $74,990 price tag.

All make us of the same engine, a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel, mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. The six-seater flagship VX was on test.

STYLING

2019 Toyota Granvia.

The Granvia shoulders the load previously taken by the Toyota Tarago people-mover.

Forget the run-of-the-mill people movers such as the Carnival, Odyssey and assorted Mercs and VWs, Granvia has a style all of its own. The radiator sets the trend with a truck-like grille with chrome finish.

The slab sides enable sliding doors on either side to open and shut smoothly, under electric power in the VX, while large windows let in lots of light to highlight the light-coloured upholstery the test VX and give all six occupants an expansive view of the passing scenery.

A high-lift tailgate opens up to give access to the cargo area – but more of that later. Up-to-the-minute touches, including auto LED headlights, taillights, fog lamps and daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, and chrome garnishes add premium touches to proceedings.

INTERIOR

2019 Toyota Granvia.

The Granvia shoulders the load previously taken by the Toyota Tarago people-mover.

Comfort and convenience take top billing in the Granvia VX cabin. The six-seater features a spacious rear cabin with four individual captain’s chairs with armrests, reclining backrests and a sliding seat base of more than 50 cm ensuring easy access and the ability to accommodate a variety of passengers in comfort.

The four captain’s chairs, along with the driver’s seat, are all power-operated with the rear seats incorporating a power ottoman leg rest, adjustable headrest and solid armrests with all seats finished in a luxe quilted leather-accent upholstery.

Further welcome additions include keyless smart entry and start, front and rear climate control, rear sun shade blinds, nanoe dehumidifier, leather-accented / woodgrain-look steering wheel, synthetic leather / woodgrain-look door trim, front and rear, 12-volt accessory sockets and six rear USB power points.

INFOTAINMENT
A 7-inch touchscreen display takes in satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic, Bluetooth connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus 12-speaker Pioneer audio with AM / FM / digital radio and CD player.

Voice recognition and Siri Eyes Free are available and Aux and one front and six rear USB ports make up the options.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
As befits a people moving limo, the Granvia is powered by a refined 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine that delivers 130 kW of power at 3400 rpm and 450 Nm between 1600 and 2400 rpm to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota says, thanks to stop / start engine system, fuel consumption is just 8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle, while emitting 211 g/km carbon dioxide.

SAFETY
All Granvias tap into Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance features, which include pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only), high-speed active cruise control; lane departure alert; road sign assist; and automatic high beam.

Other advanced safety inclusions are blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera with guidelines, panoramic view monitor, auto-dimming digital rear-view mirror and nine airbags.

DRIVING
The beefy Granvia takes up a good ‘acreage’ on the road and has a wide 12 metre turning circle, so a clear view all round is important. Front and sides are okay but it runs into trouble behind, with the plush seats blocking the majority of the rear window.

And, while entry and exit through the two automatic sliding side doors is made easier by the up to 50 cm opening, while access to the rear luggage area is a different matter. The absence of power to the liftgate makes opening and closing a hefty task.

On the move, there’s little fault to the Granvia, apart from pedestrian take-off. Things look up as the minibus stretches its legs. Wind noise intrudes at higher speeds and watch the speed on tight bends – understeer and body roll are twin traps for the unwary.

Pulling up is safely taken care of large ventilated discs on each wheel, with twin-pot callipers up front and single calliper brakes on the rear. Braking system is backed up by a range of technologies including anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, traction control, hill-start assist and trailer sway control.

Also on board is an electronically-controlled limited-slip diff that applies the brakes to individual wheels to ensure drive torque is delivered to the rear wheel with the most grip.

SUMMARY
I cannot see many Granvias parked in the average suburban driveway, let alone tucked away in garages. They are more likely to be on duty on premium hotel forecourts. However, for those who are loath to leave the comfort of the lounge, the VX ticks the majority of boxes.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL LINE-UP
Granvia 6-seat $62,990
Granvia 8-seat $64,990
Granvia VX 6-seat $74,990
Granvia VX 8-seat $74,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Granvia VX 2.8L turbocharged, 4-cylinder diesel, 6sp automatic, RWD, people mover)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.755 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 130 kW @ 3400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 1600-2400 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.0 L/100km
CO2 emissions 211 g / km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5300 mm
Wheelbase: 3210 mm
Width: 1970 mm
Height: 1990 mm
Turning Circle: 12.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 2605 kg (6 seat)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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