Kia Magentis Saloon review (2006-2011)
The new Magentis is solidly put together, inoffensively styled and offers excellent rear legroom. But Kia still has some work to do. Dynamics are outdated, it's expensive and lacks personality.
The Kia is available with 2.0-litre or 2.7-litre V6 petrol engines, but we prefer the 2.0-litre turbodiesel. There's a fair amount of diesel clatter at idle, but once on the move it delivers power progressively, and at cruising speeds is impressive refined. It serves up its power in a progressive manner too. So it's a shame the Kia's clutch action is snappy which, combined with a less-than-slick gearbox, makes smooth progress difficult. What's more, dynamically the Magentis feels flimsy. It rolls through corners, and this increased body movement means it works its front tyres much harder. There's also a lot of dive when braking, and the middle pedal is soft under-foot too. The steering is light and vague, and never inspires confidence. Unfortunately, the soft dynamic set-up doesn't translate into a decent ride quality either, because while the Kia is cushioned over smooth surfaces, the dampers don't control suspension movement. As a result, it can become crashy over imperfections, while kickback through the wheel is a problem. Still, stability control is standard.
The latest Magentis's look is hardly groundbreaking, and it lacks the personality and sense of identity of most mainstream class contenders. Still, it does have a modern 'European' feel to its styling, something forgettable previous-generation models lacked. Seven models are available, with three engines and a choice of GS, LS or flagship V6 trim. Size-wise, the big Kia is more of a Ford Mondeo rival, but is priced alongside the Focus, giving it an impressive 'large car' feel for family hatch money. There's just a single four-door saloon bodystyle available.
The Kia's length, width and stretched wheelbase provide excellent legroom in the rear. The boot is also generous, with a 420-litre luggage capacity. In the front, though, the cabin doesn't give you the same sense of space, because the driving position is flawed. Upper-range LS and V6 models get an electric driver's seat as standard, but it doesn't adjust low enough. The amount of reach and rake movement on the steering wheel isn't sufficient, either, so you end up feeling cramped. Seats don't offer much side support either. And although the Kia is very well screwed together, it is summed up by annoying touches such as the aftermarket-style radio and indicators that are on the wrong side of the steering wheel - which ruin the everyday ownership experience. The weighting of the controls could also be better. But equipment levels are very good indeed, though arguably they have to be, given some steep list prices. Depreciation will also be a bit steep, while returns of 38.8mpg from our diesel test car were disappointing - though it had very few miles on the clock. Looser engines often return better figures.