Car reviews - Kia - Credos - sedan
Competitive pricing, individual style
Room for improvement
Airbags optional only (except Levant), road noise
16 May 2001
KIA launched its third model for Australia - the Camry-sized Credos - in May, 1998, slotting above the Mentor while supplementing the successful Sportage sport/utility vehicle.
The Credos' main virtue is a price that undercuts its opposition. Even fellow South Koreans the Daewoo Leganza and Hyundai Sonata cost more, let alone the Europeans and local Magna and Camry.
Credos is big - certainly large enough for a small family - drives quite tidily and is reasonably well screwed together.
The interior seems to be well made but the ambience is compromised by budget plastics and an orchestra of squeaks and rattles on the test car.
Front seat occupants may find their chairs are set a little too low and feel a tad hard. The driver's is adjustable as are the seatbelts and steering column, so a relaxing driving position will not be an elusive pursuit.
The indicator stalks are set too far away from the steering wheel to allow a quick flick to operate them. Short of growing longer fingers, you have to slide your whole hand around the back of the wheel to switch them on.
A super efficient heater warms the cabin quickly on cold morning and is controlled by an easy to comprehend Mercedes-style thumb wheel.
The Alpine radio comes with a graphic equaliser and a volume knob, not a button.
Rear passengers are not cramped in any direction and feet can slide under the front seats.
The optional dual mode four-speed automatic transmission offers fuss-free two pedal motoring. The box works unobtrusively with acceptable step-off and jerk free changes.
Credos quickly gets to 80km/h but feels as if you are only doing 60km/h. The 2.0-litre, double overhead camshaft engine revs freely to the 6250rpm red line and while becoming noisy at the top end, resists the temptation to get thrashy.
The brake pedal has a firm and secure feel, except under hard braking when it tends to squirm unpleasantly from the rear.
The chintzy Credos' debatable aesthetic appeal nevertheless makes it stand out, especially the large chromed front grille, jewel- effect tail-lights and glitzy chrome-ringed surrounds.
Long overhangs front and rear and bulbous bumpers tend to enhance the perception of size.
It is well equipped with standard air-conditioning, front and rear fogs, electric mirrors and windows, and central locking.
Credos also features dinky puddle lights for the front doors, cupholders and grab handles.
What it lacks is the same driving flair of the Mentor sedan.
Previous generation Mazda 626 (and Ford AX Telstar) underpinnings serve up adequate handling, little body roll or lurching around corners and only a nose down tendency under heavy braking spoils the story.
The ride is less impressive being insufficiently insulated, allowing too much road racket into the cabin created by harsh banging as the suspension crashes over pock-marked surfaces.
The luggage compartment is characterised by a boot that is big, easy to load (though mind your head on the exposed lock mechanism) and reasonably well presented. A split/folding rear seat augments its volume.
The Credos offers nothing new but does not fall behind in any one area. But its price advantage may erode now that some very capable rivals are offered at some competitive prices.
- Automotive NetWorks 26/05/1999
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