2011 New Cars: Asia

Brian Konoske

Kia Sportage

The Kia nameplate is synonymous with value, but the Korean manufacturer is trying to change that. Oh, it'll keep the value, but it wants to add design to its strengths. If the Sportage looks vaguely like an oversize Italian hot hatch, it's no coincidence-it was penned by a designer from Italy. And if its LED daytime running lights look familiar, it's no surprise-Kia's design head is the former Audi design boss.

The Sportage shares its platform with something slightly more Korean-the Hyundai Tucson. That means it has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to either a six-speed stick or a very smooth six-speed automatic. The new engine makes more power than last year's optional V-6, which is a pleasant surprise, but the Sportage isn't exactly quick in a straight line. A turbocharged 2.0-liter with more than 270 hp is coming next year, and that model will also have adaptive dampers. The additional thrust will turn the Sportage into one of the quickest cute-utes, but the dampers may be overkill, as it already offers surprisingly well-balanced handling and amazingly good body control.

Top-spec Sportages offer dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, keyless start, and leather seating. The driver's seat is power-operated and can be cooled at the touch of a button. This is hardly the stuff you'd expect from a Kia.

On sale: Now
BASE PRICE: $18,990
SPECS: 2.4L I-4, 176 hp, 168 lb-ft; front- or 4-wheel drive

The Twitter Feed
Yet another dramatic new-model makeover from Hyundai/Kia.

The best execution to the completely the wrong solution. I hope Nissan will build us a new power plants in every state, to recharge the thousands of cars and upgrade the distribution grid, the transformer stations, the transformers on the streets and upgrades the electric meter and service in every household, where cars have to be charged up.
Misguided design, looking for misguided buyers.
It should be a prudent to be detached from the brainwash and false promises politicians disseminate about the auto industry. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are NOT the cars of the future, they are the cars of the misled designers and less than 15 years from now, the statement will look stupid. Vehicles carrying heavy batteries with very limited energy density are PRIMITIVE. The cars of the future either pick up energy from a grid in the streets or have energy storage density at least comparable to the present gas or diesel cars.
First of all, there is no such word as "weaved". The correct word is "woven". With the LFA, Toyota builds a car that virtually no one can own. There hasn't been a well designed, sporty Toyata since the baby Ferrari-looking MR2. Granted, cars are tools, but do Toyotas have nothing in their design kit bag? Their cars are bland and unexciting.
AGAIN, the US doesn't get the best model, the GT. The UK has been getting hot rodded Hondas for a long time. Who is telling Honda Americans won't buy it if they bring it? I assure you, I won't even consider this car until it is equal to it's own UK sibling.

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