KIA’s new Magentis mid size sedan is the inevitable move by the Korean firm into the popular segment, a market pretty well filled with competent products, including some by KIA’s own parent company, Hyundai. The new Magentis, however, represents a level of technical sophistication not previously seen from KIA. SSGM tested a Magentis 2.5 LX which was equipped with a 2493 cc V-6 producing 170 horsepower at 6000 RPM, and 169 ft-lbs. of torque at 4000 RPM. The engine uses a 10-1-compression ratio, and operates on 87 octane unleaded. The unit redlines at 6500 RPM courtesy of a very oversquare bore/stroke ratio of 84 by 75mm, one of the benefits of using six cylinders for small displacement engines. Front wheel drive is so common these days it’s almost not worth mentioning, but having done so, the Magentis uses a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link setup in the rear with gas shocks. Four wheel disk brakes featured an optional ABS system, with traction control standard on the 2.5 SE model. The braking and cornering forces are fed through 205/60R15 Michelins mounted on attractive alloy wheels. The test car’s four speed automatic uses KIA’s Steptronic Sport-Shift (everybody seems to have a “something-tronic” transmission these days) toggle shifter, which does allow significant engine braking, and is smart enough to refuse potentially deadly third or fourth to one downshifts.
The Magentis should be easy to service, with minimal vacuum hose routing and frequent maintenance items up front and labeled with bright colours. Fuse and relay panels are both underhood and behind a dash-mounted access panel, and fuses are the miniature type. Basic service procedures won’t intimidate the technician, and the owner’s manual gives some quick reference data that’s not always provided, such as headlight aim specs, and handbrake performance (which is five to nine “clicks” at a force of 22 pounds). Towing is conventional in the forward direction, but if towing the Magentis backward, use dollies, or transaxle damage will result. Lubricants are conventional, and KIA recommends synthetic oil for the Canadian market.
Driving the Magentis is much like driving mainstream Japanese mid-size product, which is significant given the pricing structure, which starts at $20,995 for the four cylinder LX, and tops at $29,495 for a loaded V-6 SE. The SSGM test car stickered at $23,995. That twenty-four grand buys a quick sedan, pulling the 1885 kg (gross weight) Magentis to 100 Km/h in 8.8 seconds. KIA claims a credible top speed of 209 Km/h, but we didn’t check. Handling is appropriately comfortable for a car destined for family hauling, and the multitude of power options combined with sensible controls and instrumentation give the Magentis a satisfying feel from the driver’s seat. Complaints? I’d prefer sportier suspension settings to complement the usable power, and maybe a shape that’s a little less conservative. If KIA is chasing a conservative market, however, the content/value equation should make the Magentis a strong contender in the middleweight ranks.