Kia Magentis 2001 Road Test

Mon, 09 Jul 2001

The 2001 KIA Magentis is a big, five-seater 166bhp V6 air-conditioned saloon with ABS and alloys for £12,995 on the road. Well, obviously, I had to check it out.

As you can see, it's not bad looking either. There's a bit of Mitsubishi about it, a hint of Honda Accord, and something of the BMW 3 Series, but nothing startling or strange. Plenty of thoughtful touches, like three proper three-point rear seatbelts; split-folding rear seat to extend the boot-space; big red lights on the open front doors to help save the lives of cyclists; a fully adjustable driver's seat; useful console trays to store mobile phones, loose change and keyrings; electric windows and mirrors; remote central locking; bags of rear legroom. It's very easy to live with.

True, the seat material is a bit off-putting and the blue-grey plastic of the dash and steering wheel assaults the nostrils as well as the eyes. The radio and single CD player is a cheapskate Philips item, and you have to pull the antenna out of the back wing manually. The keys are unnecessarily enormous. You'll be pushed to get 30mpg in day-to-day driving. But you can't have everything for £12,995.

It drives well enough. Where you might have expected feel-free, over-light power steering, this actually has some meat in it. The engine is smooth and almost completely silent at idle. But step on the gas and it responds willingly with a joyful, Alfa-like whoop.

You get a few old-fashioned Mitsubishi Galant-like clonks from the suspension when negotiating the pot-holes which our councils should have filled instead of using the tarmac for road humps. Again, no big deal. The ride quality is pretty good. And you'll still be smiling at how much money you've paid compared to anything else that comes even remotely close.

Out on the open road you're always tempted to give the car some welly just to hear the glorious snarl of its engine as the revs freely whip past 6,000, taking you to serious speeds quite quickly. Then slot it into 5th and you're cruising at 25mph per 1,000 rpm with the engine inaudible at the legal limit. Wind noise is also almost non-existent. All you hear is a bit of tyre roar from the 205/60 R15 Hankook Radial 866 tyres, which you'll probably swap for better rubber when they wear out anyway.

Push very hard into a corner and you do encounter a kind of lurch understeer that encourages you to lift off. Definitely cruder than a Mondeo 24v, but better than a Vectra V6 and certainly nothing to get alarmed about.

The Kia Magentis would be an excellent car for £16,000. For £13,000, it's staggering.

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