The future of the Pakistani automotive industry is looking brighter than ever. With Kia-Lucky Motors’ plans of launching new models of their cars in an event at Lucky One Mall in Karachi, on 15th May 2018, it is safe to say that competition has finally arrived. The initial lineup is likely to include only four models namely Picanto, Rio, Sportage and Grand Carnival. With that said a follow-up may prove to be necessary in order to diversify the range. So here are the three cars that I and many other enthusiasts want to see the company launch on the Pakistani roads.
2018 Kia Soul Turbo:
- Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged Direct-Injected Inline-4
- Power: 201 HP
- Torque: 265 Nm
- Fuel Economy: 12.5 km/l
- Price (Estimate) : PKR 2 500 000 – 2 750 000
The quirky Kia Soul has been a fan favorite in the compact crossover category for quite a while now. It competes with the Honda HR-V (Vezel), Toyota C-HR , Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke and many more in a congested category, yet in my opinion it is the best of the bunch. The new Soul Turbo features a 1.6L Turbocharged and Direct-Injected engine producing an impressive 201HP therefore 0-100 km/h comes in a very quick 6.5 seconds. There is a decent amount of low end torque and the soul handles very well too. The only gearbox available in the Turbo variant is a 7-Speed dual clutch transmission which is crisp and quick to shift as expected out of a DCT, though it may not be as civilized as a conventional automatic. Kia has refined the soul over the years so naturally it offers great visibility and ergonomics in addition to loads of standard equipment. Extras include Auto-Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and a Panoramic Glass Roof that effectively turns the roof of the car into one giant piece of glass. The only downsides compared to the competition are the awkward rear of the car and its middling fuel economy. But no car from the competition offers the amount of practicality and fun that this cheerful compact crossover has to offer. If it were to come to Pakistan and hit a competitive price point (maybe even use a 1.0L Turbo to improve fuel economy) it may even threaten Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Alits Grande sales and offer customers with a great alternative.
2018 Kia Cadenza:
- Engine: 3.3L Naturally Aspirated V6
- Power: 290 HP
- Torque: 343 Nm
- Fuel Economy: 7 km/l
- Price (Estimate) : PKR 4 250 000 – 5 000 000
Kia is a brand people do not normally associate with luxury, until they see this. The Cadenza goes up against the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C Class and the Lexus IS. The V6 engine is smooth and linear although it lacks the low end torque of its turbocharged rivals, handling is good enough but a step below the German competition. However the key attributes of the Cadenza are its comfort and value for money. The interior manages to look elegant as well as sporty and is nicely put together with superb materials. The Cadenza also undercuts its rivals on price making it the best value among the bunch. The designers have also been hard at work and the Cadenza manages to stand out even when put alongside the Lexus IS and the Benz C-Class, the sharp lines and creases and even the overall proportions make it look like a Volvo S90, which is a compliment at this price. The Cadenza’s cabin is laden with safety and infotainment tech including Auto-Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Prevention, Apple Carplay and Android Auto although it is likely that these technologies will not be available if the car ever comes here. The 8-Speed automatic is smooth and silky and very well suited to the car’s personality and mission. The same goes for the supple suspension which may not provide aggressive handling capabilities like the German counterparts but manages to turn even the roughest roads into silk. All-in-all the Cadenza is a solid competitor in the entry luxury sedan segment and may even appeal to buyers of crossovers like the Toyota C-HR, Honda Vezel, BMW X1 and the Audi Q2.
2018 Kia Stinger:
- Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged Direct-Injected Inline-4
- Power: 290 HP
- Torque: 350 Nm
- Fuel Economy: 8.5 km/l
- Price (Estimate) : PKR 4 000 000 – 4 500 000
Last but definately not the least is the Kia Stinger, I feel no hesitation saying that the Stinger is the best production Kia vehicle as of now. The Stinger is a niche-filler from the unlikeliest of sources, a fun to drive 5-Door hatchback that goes against the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe, think of it as a Korean Supra with a couple extra doors. The Stinger also delivers on the Supra comparison with terrific handling that is on par with the BMW, although steering feel isn’t as refined as the Audi’s. The engine is lively and responsive and 0-100 comes in a very quick 6.0s with the 2.0L Turbocharged 4-Cylinder engine or a remarkable 4.4s with the optional 3.3L Twin Turbo V6 that puts out 365 HP in the Stinger GT. The same praise goes for the transmission, the 8-Speed automatic is a work of art, the shifts are both quick and smooth, a combination that is rarely seen. All the usual driver aids are available here too in addition to a rich infotainment system that has Apple Carplay and Android Auto as standard. Then there’s the styling; low, aggressive and sporty – the Stinger looks amazing from every angle. Even though it may have limited importance in a car like this, the Stinger is also very spacious. Lastly, the Stinger is priced very competitively, if it is priced at 45 lacs here in Pakistan it would undercut its rivals the 3-Series, the A5 and the C-Class in price by quite a margin. On the downsides, the car has a firm suspension (though that should be expected in a car whose mission is to be sporty), the interior is not quite up to the same quality that the Germans offer and it cannot be denied that a BMW, Audi or Mercedes badge looks a lot more desirable than a Kia badge. Even though sales would be limited for a model like the Stinger, its performance and road credibility may make it a worthwhile investment here in Pakistan.
So these were my picks for the Kia cars I want to see here. Do they differ from what you want to see? Or did I miss a capable vehicle? Please, share your opinions in the comments below.