Bearing in mind the not entirely ecstatic perception of the old model, perhaps Kia should have gone further and ditched the name, too.
But there is no doubt that Kia’s re-entry into the upper-medium sector is a bargain buy, with prices starting at under £15,000.
It’s also a car that fleets would be shortsighted not to investigate, but whether their drivers will react positively is a moot point. It all comes down to badge snobbery and whether Kia’s assertive assault on the fleet market is beginning to bear fruit.
Kia achieved a 59% rise in its fleet sales during 2005 and the Magentis will be followed later this year by two all-new MPVs and a new lower-medium car based on the Cee’d concept shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March, putting the South Korean company in a strong position to further increase its 1.2% market share this year.
Williams said: ‘Our growth last year was due to Kia branching out into the contract hire market and providing dealer leasing solutions as well as focusing on increasing residual values. Magentis is set to continue this growth by targeting user-choosers and small businesses with a competitive offering encompassing maximum value with low operating costs.’
And for the first time the Magentis is available with a turbodiesel engine, which will boost its appeal in the fleet market.
With carbon dioxide emissions of 162g/km it falls into the 22% benefit-in-kind (BIK) band. Combined with lower prices than rival upper-medium models from the volume brands, this means cheaper company car tax bills.
Kia’s new 2.0-litre diesel is a second-generation common-rail unit with a turbocharger contributing towards power and torque outputs of 138bhp and 225lb-ft. With a six-speed manual gearbox, Kia claims it will return 47mpg on the combined cycle.
The two petrol engines available in the new Magentis – a four-cylinder 2.0-litre and a 2.7-litre V6 – also offer reduced running costs over the old model.
Kia’s new 2.0-litre engine develops 143bhp and 140lb-ft and, in five-speed manual form, returns 36.7mpg on the combined cycle while producing 184g/km of CO2, putting it in the 23% BIK band. The 2.0-litre engine in the old Magentis, which had less power and torque, achieved only 32.8mpg on the combined cycle.
The 185bhp 2.7-litre V6 also comes out well compared with the previous 2.5-litre V6 in the old Magentis. It is significantly smoother, more powerful and offers more torque and has a five-speed automatic gearbox as standard, all contributing towards greater performance.
Yet it is more than 3mpg more efficient and sits in the same 31% BIK band. The new V6 will also save operators money on routine servicing.
Over 60,000 miles, scheduled costs are claimed to be more than £350 lower than those for the 2.5-litre V6, while the new 2.0-litre petrol reduces servicing bills by more than £110 over the same mileage compared with its predecessor.
However, residual values remain low, with the petrol model predicted to retain 22% of its cost new after three years/60,000 miles according to CAP. The diesel is slightly better, but still not strong, at 23%.
Behind the wheel
It may not be that exciting to look at but the new Magentis offers comfortable and efficient motoring at a really good front-end price.
The fascia could be described as old-fashioned or retro, depending on your viewpoint, but while the interior may lack style it is perfectly adequate with lots of room for rear-seat passengers and an ample boot.
The Magentis offers good road- holding, a well-damped ride, nimble handling and power steering that weights up nicely as the speed increases.
The 2.0-litre 16-valve petrol model costs £1,000 less than the diesel and offers a perfectly adequate drive but has less usable power lower in the rev range.
The diesel, which Kia believes will be the volume seller, has a nicely-spaced six-speed gearbox and pulls sturdily from as low as 1,000rpm providing quiet, effortless and economical motorway cruising.
Both gearboxes are good to use, with direct, mechanically satisfying shifts. I didn’t get the chance to try out the four-speed automatic nor the expensive and not very tax-friendly V6 engine, but that’s probably neither here nor there as not many fleets will be adding it to their choice lists.
IF you’re looking for a large saloon that is smooth to drive and generously equipped, the new Kia Magentis offers exceptional value for money. Convincing the badge snobs and taking the financial hit on those poor residuals could be a problem, though.
|Model:||2.0||2.0 CRDi||2.7 V6|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||142/6,000||138/4,000||185/6,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||139/4,250||224/1,800||182/4,000|
|Max speed (mph):||129||124||136|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||36.6||47.0||30.7|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||162||184||220|