Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kia Mohave : Preview from Dubai

Kia is positioning the Mohave in the opposite fighting corner to the likes of the Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Land Cruiser and Volvo XC90, and at first glance, if price is your primary reason for buying, then the Mohave will suit you well as Kia have pledged to undercut the Japanese makers, although no pricetag has yet been announced.

So what does the Mohave offer? From the outside the angular face reminiscent of some of the Stateside 4x4s feels a little out of place on a Kia, but once you get used to its broad and gently sloping chrome grin and wrap-around headlamps, there is something quite forward-looking and simple about it, based as it is on the MESA concept first shown in Detroit in 2005. It’s not really until you look beyond the rear wheel-arch that the rear three-quarter window and sloping rear pillar giveaway that it is a Kia, but even then these characteristics are subtle. Once you move around to the rear once again there is a simplicity and a modernism about the wide tailgate window and the wrap-around LED brake lights that is appealing.

One assumes that Kia expect the Mohave to be used at least in some degree for rugged duties as it features a sump guard, as well plastic wheel-arch and lower door guards which lack subtlety and mimic again many US 4x4s, but do make the Mohave appear slightly longer.

The interior of the Mohave shouldn’t really be a surprise by now. Kia have ploughed a lot of research and effort into refining the quality that the customer can expect for the amount of money they spend, and it seems that they have come up trumps with the Mohave. OK, the leather is not of the highest quality and the interior materials are not up to the standard of premium quality SUVs, but for perceived quality, texture, fit and finish, you really cannot complain.

The Mohave features most mod cons that you would expect in vehicles of higher spec, including 8-way adjustable driver and passenger seats, electronic reach and rake adjustable steering, keyless entry, push button start/stop, HID headlamps, electronic pedal adjustment, satnav with integrated entertainment system with USB, iPod and AUX compatibility, cruise control, hill decent assist, fully independent front and rear suspension with electronic height adjustment, and 2H/4H/4L gearing selection.

As the driver, the first thing you notice is the innovative design of the instrument cluster and the red backlighting when you switch on the lights. You also notice the subtle design elements such as the matt wood veneer or brushed aluminium effect inlays common to executive vehicles, as well as a quality of fit and finish that exceeds many of the Kia’s competitors.

To drive, the Mohave feels fairly sure-footed and as responsive to inputs as you would expect a 5m long, 2m wide 7-seater SUV to be. The 3.8-litre V6 engine has a surprisingly throaty voice and with 270bhp and 362Nm of torque on call, it is also nimble off the line, reaching 100km/h in a respectable 8.5 seconds. Kia is also proposing to introduce a 4.6-litre V8 which should be even more impressive and will feature a 6-speed automatic box as opposed to the V6’s 5-speed auto.

Highway driving is very comfortable in the Mohave although there did seem to be a low hum at 120km/h which sounded like it was coming from the transmission on the vehicle we had, and the side curtain airbags deployed for no reason on another vehicle. But these are teething problems we are assured.

Off-road the Mohave could be quite adept. Unfortunately, Kia had obviously requested that the organisers make sure their new ‘tough guy’ SUV was treated gently with just a few light log obstacles, a run up a gentle dune and down again and a 50 metre slalom course. Not really what you would call a thorough test, but nevertheless the Mohave didn’t embarrass itself.

After four years in development the Mohave looks set to be a serious contributor to Kia’s fortunes, especially in this region. Global sales are projected to be around 60,000 by the end of this year and 80,000 by the end of 2009. With Kia currently riding a wave of popularity with a range of new models due to be launched in the near future, of which the Mohave is just one, the company looks set to continue challenging several of the Japanese and US carmakers, especially with their very attractive servicing and warranty packages, not to mention the pricetag.

With Kia you always used to get what you pay for: now you get even more. Expect to see it Kia showrooms by mid July.

2008 Kia Mohave Technical Specifications - 4 Door Mid-Size SUV
Engine - 3.8-litre V6
Power - 270 Bhp
Torque - 362 Nm
0-100km/h - 8.5 secs
Transmission - 5-speed automatic
Price Range (unofficial) - AED 92,000 to AED 138,000

Key Competitors
Toyota Land Cruiser
Mitsubishi Pajero
Nissan Pathfinder
Hyundai Veracruz
Volvo XC90

[Source : Auto MidlleEast via KIA World]

Images Gallery :

KiaMohave_B2.jpg KiaMohave_B3.jpg
KiaMohave_B5.jpg KiaMohave_B6.jpg


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