Nothing Sundered, nay: Ambivalence Restored

From certain viewpoints, the 2000-2005 Kia Magentis looks quite acceptable. 

With the passage of many seasons and, especially in the context of engine downsizing, the V6 allied to a comfortable ride make the Magentis seem even more acceptable. The very same day I saw the Kia, a retired policeman and his wife proudly showed off the engine bay of their (metallic green) Volvo S70: a 2.4 litre quint. Both of these

Buck Mulligan as a car.

remind me of the consequences of the prestige and sportiness wars. This much we know. The other thing is that apart from the unwise headlights, it hasn’t aged all that badly and the creases and chrome are very much in style. Had Kia tried less hard and opted for ordinary lamps this would be quite a fine saloon now, like a decent dark blue suit. That’d have left room for a wider grille. Customers for this kind of car would have appreciated “proper” conservative or vernacular forms. Radical can’t be partial (the W210’s lamps fail for the same reason).

Funnily enough this car sold well enough to be relatively common. The successor seems to have sunk without trace even though it apparently “rectified” the 2000 car’s faults. Here’s one:

2006 Kia Magentis: Wikipedia

It has no creases, less brightwork, sensible lamps and no discernable character. No wonder it fizzled: it alienated everyone. The 2000 version probably appealed intensely to all of a small sector of the public, much like the Ford Crown

2000 Kia Magentis.

Victoria in the US. While it left all the mainstream boxes unticked it did stand so far into the conservative sector it must have been like catnip to neglected mainstream big, inexpensive car

lovers: they could afford a loaded Golf for the price of the Kia and said no: I want space, a big displacement engine and a long warranty. Where did these people go after 2005?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

11 thoughts on “Nothing Sundered, nay: Ambivalence Restored”

  1. I don’t like those sill extensions. Toyota did the same thing to the facelift of the last generation Corolla hatch (a design and car I liked a lot pre-facelift. They just look tacked on and heavy.

    1. Don’t they make it look sporty and premium, though? Just like a BMW 316i with sports embellishments?
      Honestly, I hadn’t noticed them. File under: 240 GL with boot-mounted spoiler.

    2. The moment you analyse them their silliness (pun!) becomes glaring. Part of the performance character of a sports car is actual lowness, meaning a smaller sill-to-ground gap. Allied with that is a lower roof adding up to a lower centre of gravity. The fake sill does not lower the car’s c.o.g; it adds weight too. These sills aren’t the worst yet still quite dumb.

  2. A couple of years ago I had the pleasure to get invited to a customer clinic for the then new Kia Magentis.
    How they got my address and what made them think that as (at that time) an Alfa 166 owner I could be a potential customer for the Kia, I never found out.

    The cars on offer were the Kia, Pug 607, Honda Legend, Volvo S60 and Audi A6 C5, all painted silver with black tape over their manufacturer’s logos and model designations to make sure nobody knew what they were.
    We had ten minutes for every car, we could take notes that were later collected and at the end we were subjected to an interview with questions on what car we liked/disliked most, what we were prepared to pay in relative terms (would you pay the same price for car #1 (the Magentis) as for car #2 (the Peugeot) or would it need to be ten percent cheaper?) and in absolute numbers (how much are you prepared to pay for car #2 (Peugeot)? Nothing, I wouldn’t even take it if they gave it to me for free with 1,000 Euros on top). They also wanted to know what we liked least or most of any vehicle on display. The latter was the most difficult question because I couldn’t find anything likable in the Magentis, but we finally agreed I liked the shine of the door mirror glasses.

    1. I’d probably have been torn between the Honda and the Peugeot and then settled on the Peugeot. I am not everyone – the Kia must have appealed to people wary of Peugeot’s quality and the others’ prices. The warranty and features sold the Kia; add better looks and they’d have had a waiting list.

  3. “Where did these people go after 2005?”

    up until 2010, some of them went to my beloved Kia Opirus, which deserved a good writeup here at DTW. but most of them seem to have gone Czech, even if the gap between Skoda’s price tags and Volkswagen’s are not that big.

  4. What always impressed me when I saw the Opirus/Amanti on the road, was the resilience, staying power and outright patience the once prospective owner must have displayed to remain for more than ten minutes at the Kia dealer’s premises. I couldn’t stomach the place as it felt like a spiv’s paradise and home to the skinny tie, yet for some the outright allure of this strangely proportioned tub o’lard must have convinced them that the torture was worth it. And now, you never see one. No doubt rather like the early Sedona, whose tailgate would rot through in four years leaving metal flapping in the breeze while surrounding panels still gleamed richly in the sun, the great quality was so well recognized that all remaining ones were “snapped” up and exported to Lagos via container for the delectation of second owners, while the first owners gleefully accepted the insurance payout.

    The nonentity second gen Magentis was paralleled by the Hyundai Sonata, which looked much better, and from the rear three-quarter had me mistaking it for a 2005 BMW 5 series on more than one occasion. The Sonata was a bit better looking overall in my opinion, as the BMW was a tubby thing with fat flanks and with the 3.5 V6 could get a move on.

    I finally got around to actually driving a Kia Optima 2.0t turbo about 2012, attracted by its styling and a change of dealer ownership. Let’s just say it was a discombobulated thing, at sea with itself. A Subaru Legacy GT it was not. The salesman was stunned that I found it underwhelming. But then who ever met a car salesman who had a clue about cars? Not me.

    1. They are a peculiar breed, car salesmen. You’d imagine they’d use their spare time memorising spec sheets and detecting all the ways their wares demonstrated superiority over those of their rivals. They could also use time to create good customer relations by follow-up calls and also convince the service people to treat customers better. Alas, no. Like builders they see customers too rarely to consider this effort worthwhile. Luckily I have dodged their company these last two decades.

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