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Kia launches brand new $29,990 Rondo

By a nose: The new Kia Rondo takes on the South Korean car-maker’s latest design language, including the ‘tiger-nose’ grille.

Expectations grow for Kia’s new Rondo – no longer Australia’s cheapest people-mover

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4 Jun 2013

KIA has given its Rondo compact people-mover a wholesale redesign in line with its sharper new image, but the makeover comes at a price.

While sharper to behold and better-equipped than ever before, the price of entry to the new, automatic-only version is also $4000 higher than its base (manual) predecessor, at $29,990 plus on-road costs.

This means the compact Korean has lost its crown as the cheapest seven-seater on the Australian market, with Fiat’s larger Freemont able to be optioned with three rows of seats for $28,500 drive-away.

Keep in mind that Kia dropped the entry-level manual variant of the Rondo, which has impacted pricing for the new model.

The increase in price comes in exchange for a new vehicle that is more generously equipped and offers more variants, the availability of a diesel engine for the first time and improved petrol performance and fuel economy over the vehicle it replaces.

While the Rondo has been a niche model at best since it went on sale in Australia in 2008, the aggressive Korean car-maker has bigger plans for the latest version.

Kia is predicting global sales of compact people-movers such as the Rondo to grow from 1.9 million units in 2012 to 2.5 million by 2015, and expects to build 105,000 units of this new Rondo per year, up from 420,000 total units of the old version.

The Rondo you see here has been styled in-line with other recent Kia models such as the mid-size Optima, Sportage SUV and Cerato small sedan, in that it features the now-familiar ‘tiger-nose’ grille that has become a brand trademark.

Kia Motors president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer said his European design team worked hard to give the Rondo a completely new look while maintaining the practicality of a seven-seat people mover.

“I wanted to give the new Rondo a sleeker look and feel, to create a design that envelops its functionality and versatility in something altogether more athletic and dynamic,” he said.

“This new-found visual dynamism is important – this car needs to look appealing and attractive – but during its design and development stages, we never lost sight of the fact that packaging flexibility and adaptability are the reasons why people buy this type of vehicle.”

The rounded front end, snub nose and clean rear-end design of the new model give the impression of a large hatchback, rather than a traditional MPV.

It’s 20mm shorter, 15mm narrower and 40mm lower than the model it replaces, but has a 50mm longer wheelbase and therefore gains space in the cabin.

The front passenger seat backrest in the mid-spec SLi and flagship Platinum variants can be folded forwards, while the second row seats can be split folded 35/30/35 and slid forwards for greater access to the third row. The very back row features a 50/50 split and the seats can be stowed under the floor of the boot for greater cargo space.

Kia credits the compact design of its rear suspension as the reason for a 17 per cent increase in boot capacity, allowing for 103 litres with all seven seats up, 492 litres with five seats occupied and up to 1650 litres when the front seats are in use.

Kia has boosted the entire Rondo line-up from two variants with one engine to three variants and a choice of both petrol and diesel powertrains.

The base Si kicks off the range from $29,990 for the petrol and $32,490 for the diesel, and comes with standard features such as 16-inch alloys, cruise control, luggage screen, six-speaker audio system with MP3 compatible CD player, 4.3-inch touch screen, Bluetooth with media streaming and steering wheel-mounted controls, heated electric folding mirrors, electric windows and tinted glass.

Moving up to the SLi takes the price out to $33,990 for the petrol or $36,490 for the diesel.

Extra equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front parking sensors, LED daylight running lamps, leather trim seats, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, puddle light on side mirrors, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a 4.2-inch colour instrument cluster and roof rails.

Strangely, the flagship Platinum is available in petrol only from $38,990, and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation with seven-inch full touch screen, heated steering wheel, push button start, a panoramic sunroof and a cooled glovebox.

The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder GDI petrol engine gives the Rondo a power boost from 106kW in the outgoing model to 122kW, while torque is also up from 189Nm to 213Nm.

Fuel use in petrol variants has improved over the previous model with a combined figure of 7.9 litres per 100km, down from 8.6L/100km, while CO2 emissions have been reduced from 208g/km to 184g/km.

The 1.7-litre diesel option produces 100kW and 320Nm of torque with combined fuel use of 6.4L/100km and CO2 emissions of 170g/km., All variants are mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission that features a ‘Sport’ mode for clutchless manual driving, while paddle shifters are available on higher spec models.

Standard on all variants in the Rondo line-up is Kia’s ‘Flex Steer’ system that offers the driver three different modes of steering feel – Normal, Sport and Comfort.

Kia has maintained braked towing capacity of 1400kg for the petrol model, while the diesel can haul 1500kg.

The Rondo is yet to be crash tested by ANCAP, but the compact people mover features the usual suite of standard safety gear as well as six airbags and three-point seat-belts for all occupants.

If the Rondo manages to achieve a maximum five-star crash safety rating, it will have a local advantage over the four-star ANCAP (but five-star Euro NCAP) Fiat Freemont.

Despite the price gain, the Rondo beats a number of larger competitors on price, such as the Dodge Journey that kicks off at $32,400, the newly-released Peugeot 5008 that starts from $36,990 for the petrol model and Citroen’s C4 Picasso that retails for $39,490.

, , , , 2013 Kia Rondo pricing*, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Si 2.0L petrol (a)$29,990 (+$2000)
SLi 2.0L petrol (a)$33,990 (+$2600)
Platinum 2.0L petrol (a)$38,990 (new)
Si 1.7L diesel (a)$32,490 (new)
SLi 1.7L diesel (a)$36,490 (new)


*Excludes on-road costs.

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