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Kia Optima 2006 and earlier

giowagiowa Posts: 599
Check out both Kia's web site and September 2000
issue of AUTOMOBILE magazine to learn about Kia's
upcoming release of their new Optima sedan, their
version of Hyundai's Sonata. Web site has a
picture. To come out with engines now in use in
Sonata: 2.4L I-4 and 2.5L V-6.

Will be interesting to see how Hyundai and Kia try
to differentiate and market these two corporate
cousins. Check out Sonata postings to get flavor
of how us Sonata owners feel about our cars.

Will the Kia steal sales from Hyundai, which has
seen them explode in U.S. over past year? Will
anyone even notice that Kia has a larger sedan?
Only time will tell.


  • jkobtyjkobty Posts: 99
    car they started selling in Australia in 1998,
    then it is definitely better looking than Sonata.
    can you please post the website.
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    Wow! The Credos is definitely the looker of the bunch. Are you sure it's another Sonata clone? If it is true, Kia really should bring this version to these shores.

    BTW, I notice Kias now carry the same excellent warranty as the Hyundai Advantage. Even though I worry a little about the two name plates vying for the same customer pool, I think HMA stands to gain a bigger market share in the long run. That is, as long as HMA design enough differentiation between the two cars. Examples:

    1. Give Sonata more "upscale" trim packages and make Optima the entry level value winner, a la Audi A4 and the VW Passat.

    2. Tune the Optima as a family sedan with a compliant ride, and tweak the Sonata into a no-compromise sports 4dr sedan.

    3. Differentiate various models with engine choices:

    Optima: 2.4L I4 standard, 2.5L V6 optional
    Sonata: 2.5L V6 standard, 2.7L V6 optional

    In addition, make an "ultimate" Sonata model in the same vein as the Audi S-cars and BMW M-cars. Force-feed the 2.5L V6 with twin turbo chargers or shoehorn the 3.0L V6 from the XG300 into it. 1" lowered sport suspension and 17" alloys shod with 235/40ZR17s. Call it the Requiem, for the other imports, that is.

    Uhh... sorry about the puddle of drool. Let me clean that up here. :-)
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Couldn't agree more; however, after surfing around world at Korean, European, Australian, and US Hyundai web sites I'm struck by fact Hyundai has yet to create a "real" sports car or sports sedan. Not sure they'd know how to create a Sonata Sport Sedan. As the proud owner of a '96 Chevy Impala SS I know what such a car can do for a brand as well as attracting buyers. At very least, Hyundai could create a sportier Sonata by selling one that came only with 2.5/2.7L V-6, 5-speed manual, ABS & traction control, 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes, 16" performance tires and suspension tweak, fog lights, spoiler, sunroof, and CD. Only options would be leather & power seat. Limited it to only about 4 exterior colors (say red, blue, green, & silver) and only 1 interior color (black or darker grey), and possibly have a sport seat. This could be easily done. And the price could likely be kept around $21,000 US. My GLS V-6 w/5-speed & Pkg 13 is somewhat along this line but needs tire & suspension upgrade and better brakes. Then let Kia keep to a simpler, cheaper strategy.

    Kia should be to Hyundai as Chevrolet is to Pontiac. Let Kia sell more on price/value and Hyundai on sport & luxury. But they have to be careful to preserve real price and option differentials. If they are mere clones, they'll drag down each other's sales by cannibalizing at each other's dealers. Lower per unit per dealer sales would cripple expansion plans.
  • jkobtyjkobty Posts: 99
    The KIA's sold in Australia are all great looking cars. The Sephia equivalent is called the Mentor
    and it looks great too. I have seen these cars in person when I was living in Sydney. I just do not understand why KIA is not bringing them to USA.
    Instead they choose to sell you bland cars kinda like Honda and Toyota. Are American tastes this
    bland? Check out the KIA Mentor (Sephia Equivalent)
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    You should add more detail to your Edmunds profile. Do you live in US or Aus? What car(s) do you drive? Want?

    Not sure I'd say American tastes are bland. Unfortunately our market is moving away from cars to trucks, SUVs, and vans. I don't care for any of these. Give me a sports car or sports sedan any day!

    Though this isn't politically correct, I believe another terrible problem in US is that most cars are automatics. Far too many (if not most) driver education programs don't even use manual transmissions. My wife along with lots of other wives in my rural Iowa town routinely tell me they can't drive sticks and don't want to learn.

    About 80 plus percent of our cars and even higher percentages of SUVs, trucks, and vans come with slushboxes. Try to find a 4-door V-6 with manual transmission. Good luck. Whole models no longer come with manuals (e.g., Ford Taurus, Chevy Impala/Malibu, Cadillacs, etc.). That is why it is absolutely critical for both Hyundai and Kia to build and adequately market sufficient V-6s with manuals.

    Americans have forgotten how fun cars can be to drive when they have a manual transmission. Since too few view cars for their driving pleasure, we don't get them styled to appeal to that same side. Maybe that leads to blandness?

    All I know from the history books is that the 60s muscle car era had lots of powerful cars that could be ordered with manuals and they had style. We lost it when the era died and are slowly recovering from the dead 70s and 80s.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    Where have you been? Living under a rock possibly? The Kia Sephia and Spectra are the exact same cars as the Australian Mentor 4 door and 5 door sedans respectively. They didn't change the styling to fit "bland" US tastes. They simply brought over the same exact car that they offer elsewhere.
  • jkobtyjkobty Posts: 99
    Well if you bothered to look at the Mentor pictures I posted it looks nowhere near a Sephia.
    Both interior and exterior of Mentor is better than Sephia.

    BTW, I used to live in Australia between 1995-1998. I owned a Daewoo Cielo back then. Currently
    I own a Daewoo Leganza and a Daewoo Nubira.
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    I agree Hyundai could use an "image car", especially here in the States. The fabulous warranty and much improved quality is starting to win over car buyers, but sales numbers along isn't enough to shake the cheap car stigma.

    I think that is exactly HMA's intention for introducing the XG300. From what I've read, Hyundai Motors has been wanting to bring an upscale vehicle range to NA for a while now but have been apprehensive about its own quality control and NA public acceptance. I think the timing could not be better.

    I think you're right that Hyundai doesn't have a lot of experience with high-end sports cars, although Hyundai Motorsports has been campaigning a successful Tiburon Rally team. So that may be changing soon.

    Hyundai does have experience, however, building luxury cars, so perhaps they are moving upscale from that end with the XG. It's a smart decision. We'll just have to wait for the sports sedan a little longer.

    BTW, I also agree about the proliferation of slushboxes on this continent. I have so far owned only 5sp vehicles - the Sonata is no exception. I'm very fortunate to have found a wife that comes with 5sp driving ability, standard. :-)
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    My guess as to why some of the most popular cars here in America are bland looking is that for a long time through the 80's and early 90's, the overriding concern of most car buyers had been reliability. Having been stung bad with the deplorable Detroit automobiles of the 70's, they flocked to the Japanese cars, which are very reliable but a little shy in the styling department.

    That is changing now though. Thanks to the seemingly undying economic boom, people are starting to demand style to go with the reliability. Witness the popularity of the New Beetle and the PT Cruizer. Both are from makers still at the bottom of just about everybody's reliability scale, but sell like hotcakes nonetheless.

    Okay, I'd better shut up now. Boy, did I go off-topic. What was the topic again? ;-)
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    You must be blind. I did look at your link. I just double checked again. The red car in the front, which is the Mentor 5 door hatch, is the exact same car looks wise as the Spectra 5 door hatch sold here. If you don't believe me than try going to and see for yourself! The Spectra has the same four circular headlights and the same turn signal location. The 2 cars are exactly alike. The only difference is the hubcap design and US cars do not have the side marker lights on the front fenders. The light beige car in the back is the exact same car as the Sephia sedan, except for the side marker lights again and the Sephia has orange colored front turn signals instead of the Mentor's clear ones. Those very minor exterior differences do not make the cars look completely different.
    As far as the interior, sorry mate, they have the same dashboard design and switch locations. The only difference is the color of the cloth and possibly the dashboard. Otherwise, once again, the Mentor and Sephia/Spectra are exactly alike. I think you are a bit blinded by your undying love for the Australian car market and how much better your perceive it to be than the US market. I suggest opening 2 browsers so you can compare the 2 websites at the same time and see for yourself that they are the same cars.
  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    The 4dr Mentor is a Sephia, the 5dr Liftback Mentor is a Spectra. Its pretty clear from the picture you posted and picture from KIA USA. lngtonge18 is right about that.
  • wonderwallwonderwall Posts: 126
    jkobty is always posting in the mazda protege forums about how much better daewoo is than the protege. he has even gone so far as to say that daewoo is better than mercedes-benz and bmw. the guy is not all there, i think...
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    Thanks for your support guys. I knew I was not the crazy one :)
  • bo_chungbo_chung Posts: 61
    wonderwall, give jkobty a break. Besides, I agree that Daewoo is better than M-B and BMW, for the money anyway. And for the record, Kia's Sephia is based on older version of Mazda Protege (323). Credos is based on newer version of Mazda 626. Kia and Mazda go way back. Mazda owned 10% of Kia and we all know that Ford owns controlling stake in Mazda. It appears that Hyundai wants to break off all ties with Mazda/Ford and basically make KIA a division of Hyundai. Sort of like VW/Audi, except in this case Hyundai owns KIA, not like Audi owning VW. I belive Hyundai is making all the right moves recently. It takes a big commitment for a company to offer best warranty in the business without the best product in the business. Extending the same to lower KIA is even more impressive, bordering on reckless.
  • jkobtyjkobty Posts: 99
    Sorry guys, but I did not see the Spectra before.
    The Spectra is indeed the same as Mentor. Sephia
    is different though. I did not know KIA started selling Spectra. The current Spectra(MEntor) model
    has been available in Australia since 1998.
    And yes I love the Australian car market. It has more car choices. Can I get an Alfa Romeo Twin spark in USA? Can I get a Peugeot or a Renault
    or a SEAT or a FIAT or a Citroen? Have you seen the cars Ford and GM are coming up with in Australia? When I arrived in Canada in 1998 I was really depressed when I went out car shopping. All
    I saw were ugly boxes. Sorry to go off topic,
    but I really do wish I was still living in Sydney.
    Too bad that my wife's entire family lives in Canada.
  • bo_chungbo_chung Posts: 61
    I know what you mean. Sydney is beautiful indeed. My only problem with Australia is that they drive on the wrong side of the road. Otherwise, the food is great, prices are reasonable, people are friendly, and so on and so forth.
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Checked out the Australian car magazine web site mentioned in one of the early postings. Has an interesting road test of the Hyundai Grandeur XG, Aus version of our forthcoming XG 300. While they rave about many things they absolutely pan the suspension. I think this characteristic is a weakness in the Sonata as well. Suspensions are an area Hyundai needs help with. They should partner with one of the European companies that provide such engineering assistance (e.g., Lotus, Porsche, etc.).

    If Hyundai can't get its suspensions to behave with more sophistication, then all the luxury accoutrements won't help it win luxury laurels. Luxury buyers don't want wallowy, floaty rides. They want precision and control, though not at the price of excessive harshness.

    This is the type area Hyundai needs to keep in mind when trying to differentiate Kia from Hyundai. Kia should be the softer, floatier, more US interstate-type ride while Hyundai moves both to more sporty version as well as more controlled luxury version. I pray they don't just use same suspension/tire setting for both makes. :)
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    I've always said that the one thing I don't quite like in the Sonata's dynamics is the not-so-communicative steering. I can understand why Hyundai tuned the suspension the way they did, though. Afterall, it is marketed as a family sedan and not a canyon carving machine. I really do think Sonata's ride and handling is on target with the intended audience, even if I personally prefer a more lively setting.

    Curiously, I actually prefer the suspension setup of the Sonata base GL to that of the GLS. The GL seemed more stable and composed at highway speeds (50-70mph). I don't think I'm injecting any ownership bias into this, as I had arrived at this impression from test drives even before I bought my car. Perhaps it's the different shocks, the tire/wheel combinations or maybe the weight distribution due to different engines. I'm not sure.

    I don't think Hyundai could do wrong by giving the Optima the same suspension settings, but I agree it would be better to differentiate the pair a little more than just sheetmetal.
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    So far your posts here have been civil and informative. You have your opinions but, then again, we are all entitled to ours, no? I'm not sure I care what alleged flame wars you were involved in other forums. I myself have been flambeed in many. :-) For that matter, I don't care if you've whupped Jean Claud Van Damme's behind in a bar brawl and lost two teeth in the process. Hmm... heck, if you actually did I'd like to hear about it. :-D

    Point is, unless any of us are blatantly flame baiting here, I'd like to hear y'all's opinions.
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Have you ever read the September 1999 Car and Driver comparison test of eight mid-sized sedans? The Hyundai came in last, mainly because it was solidly panned in regard to its handling. I think the article was a bit harsh but not inaccurate. Per Frank Marcus: "I feel like a bumbling novice because I can't place this car accurately. There's a vintage-Americana isolation that muffles all communication from what is, in fact, a sophisticated control-arm suspension." John Phillips: "The lack of roll control, combined with too much steering gain just off-center, relegated the Sonata to least-fun-to-drive status, tied with the [Chevrolet] Malibu... It's taken Hyundai only 10 years to assemble all the requisite high-tech parts...but the company needs to find someone to teach those parts to talk to one another."

    That is the sort of fine tuning I'm talking about. Maybe the Kia would keep the beginner's suspension set up. Hyundai doesn't need to makes its version overly aggressive. Just need to give it a bit more composure. Then, once they have done that, Hyundai could add a harder, sportier sport sedan version.

    Don't get me wrong. I enjoy driving my GLS V-6 w/5-speed and ABS. Just took me a while to get to know the suspension's quirks and foibles. All cars have them. Once I did, and knew what she could and couldn't comfortably do, I now find her fun to drive. Some of the "fun", though, comes from fact she needs more driver skill to get her to do what comes more naturally to other, more poised vehicles.
  • jkobtyjkobty Posts: 99
    I am a BIG fan of Korean cars. I have been driving Korean cars for 10 years without a single mechanical fault. Have I been lucky? maybe. The
    only car I had mechanical problems with was my wife's ex-car. A chevy Lumina. The power steering
    went at 30,000 miles. The front axle went at 80,000 miles. I immediately traded it in for a 2000 Daewoo Nubira CDX. I am not used to having mechanical problems with my cars. I panicked. But hey I am an idiot right? I drive Korean cars!
  • jkobtyjkobty Posts: 99
    I think Sonata is the BEST value for money on the market today. Daewoo's cost more, but both myself and my wife prefer the styling of the Daewoos.
    My second Korean option personally would be the KIA's. I think the Credos and Spectra look great.
    I actually sat in a Credos at the Sydney auto show
    in 1998. Loved it.
  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    jkobty said the Sonata is the BEST value out there!!! Allright, its been recorded and copied over and can be used against him on future encounters!! :) (j/k)

    Personally I think KIA is still lagging behind Daewoo and Hyundai in most aspect. I cant phantom how much money Hyundai will be losing after upgrading KIA warranty to 10/100K. Oh well, as long as they can pull it off...
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    giowa, yes I read the comparo. Sonata lost out mainly because it was overpowered, literally. C&D editors plainly stated that they are car enthusiasts, for whom absolute performance rank absolutely above all else. In the company of 3.0L and bigger V6's, Sonata's 2.5L has little chance. They also stated, however, that had value and efficiency been higher up in the list of considerations, the Sonata would likely have placed much higher.

    jkobty, I must say I agree with you about the Daewoos been better in the styling department. I've always said that Hyundai needs to develop a familial resemblance in all its cars. There is something to be said about the elegance of an enduring corporate facade. Daewoo has done just that with all its cars. Hyundai and Kia really should follow suit.

    The Optima will be the "flagship" of Kia's North American fleet. It would be a good chance for it to redefine the styling for the rest of the lineup.
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    Article in 8/9/00 edition of NY Times has great news on Hyundai & Kia Motors financial results. For first six months of '00: Hyundai Motor sales rose 40%, to $7.5 billion, with earnings surging to $278 million; Kia Motor sales rose 69%, to $4.3 billion.
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    C&D faulted Sonata for "weak low-end torque, slow-to-react [automatic] transmission, oatmeal handling... all the right parts waiting for someone to tune them." Comparison story spent more time on handling issues than anything else. In point totals area Sonata got lowest rating, a 5, for handling; fun to drive rating a 6; engine and transmission both rated at 7.

    This article is the perfect explanation for why Sonatas should only be bought with manual transmissions. Buying a manual transmission will completely overcome the problematic automatic transmission and do wonders for acceleration, negating to a great extent the low end torque concern.

    However, there's no fixin' the handling issues with any OEM option. That is the key area Hyundia and Kia need to address in both Sonata/Optima and XG 300 platforms. (Aussie review of XG 300 reads like C&D Review of Sonata suspension.)
  • giowagiowa Posts: 599
    8/9/00 edition of London Financial Times also reported on the good news for Hyundai Motor Co.: "Recording its best half-yearly earnings in its 33-year history, the world's seventh biggest vehicle maker's income surged... tripled to a record high... overall sales rose 40% while Kia surged 69%... attributed its record profit to a 49% surge in the North American market, increased exports to Europe, and demand for high-end vehicles in Korea... Kia saw its sales to North America rise 34%. Domestically, its sales rose 131%."

    Hope they keep up these results and that it bodes well for new Kia Optima, Hyundai XG 300 & Santa Fe, and the other models slated to come out in near future.
  • jkobtyjkobty Posts: 99
    Motoring 2000 gave Sonata 5 stars out of 5 stars.
    They judged the car on what it really is. A decent family sedan. Trying to judge a family car as a sports sedan is plain rediculous, and a blatant attempt by the media to discourage buyers.
    I have no faith in magazines that rely on advertising for survival. They have to brown nose and kiss [non-permissible content removed] all the time.
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    Far too often jaded automotive journalists begin a test drive with a score card already filled out based on their preconceived ideas about the make and model. They then spend the entire test session looking for evidence to back up their scores.

    Judging a family sedan by sports sedan standards is indeed preposterous. So too is faulting a car costing $15,000 for being less refined than one stickers for $20,000. I'm sure when the Optima gets reviewed by the car rags, they will undoubtedly find all sorts of excuses to pin the car in what they perceive as the proper pecking order against the other major players.
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