The beluga whale
New cars are jolly expensive these days, especially when you consider the amount of metal you get for your money. MPV’s and minibuses represent the best value but they tend to look (and feel) so boxy… enter stage left, this cool new Kia.
Thanks to years of product revitalization and the Schreyer design era, using cool as an attribute to describe Kias is no longer frowned upon. Placing it in close proximity to the acronym MPV demands some explanation which I’m all too happy to give when it comes to this Grand Sedona.
For starters, I’m unsure what happened to the regular or Petite Sedona; they may be available overseas. Local buyers have a choice of three models – EX, EX Plus or SXL – all powered by the same 2.2-litre in-line four cylinder turbo-diesel engine delivering a respectable 147kW (200hp) or 440Nm to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Grand Sedona offers seven, eight or eleven seats; the last as a special order for the EX model.
Prices start around 625k – not bad for such a classy van – and go just north of 800,000 for the top-dog SXL derivative. For quite some time I thought this was the vehicle I had underfoot because our white press demonstrator with its two-tone panda leather trim was simply smothering me in toys and luxury.
Comfort too, thanks to a pliant suspension setup and 235/65R17 wheels on all corners. It’s only when I consulted Kia’s detailed specifications that I realized we were piloting the middle child EX Plus model worth about 655,000 bucks. Highlights include a mobile-friendly touch-screen audio system, rear USB ports, multi-zone aircon and eight highly adjustable seats.
All models have ABS with EBD, ESP, six airbags, climate control, leather trim, a rearview camera, electric park brake, glove box cooling, wireless phone charger and hill hold assist. The dearest SXL version tops that with (some) climate seats, smart key, powered rear doors, two sunroofs and multiple driver assist systems.
An obvious downside of all the toys and seats is the effect on the car’s exterior dimensions. With 5.1m length, almost 2m width and 1.74m height, this isn’t the easiest cab to weave through tight city streets. Nonetheless, my better half took such a shine to this roomy, comfy, torque-y and frugal behemoth that she happily braved Cape Town’s CBD.
She even gave it a nickname: the beluga whale.
I assure you that this was meant in the kindest and most endearing sense because it took me a while to wrestle the keys off her; especially when she learnt its price. Here’s a fairly attractive MPV with funky seats and Caravelle-like dashboard (her words), superb climate control, lots of gadgets and a super-comfy ride. What’s not to like?
Sure, this car appeals to our current stage of life but from this review onwards I shall champion the Grand Sedona as my favourite among the fancy bus bridge. It’s got another appealing feature in the two large sliding doors with powered drop-down windows… do you know of an MPV which can do that?
Driving the Grand Sedona is equally pleasurable as the car’s handling belies its dimensions, steering feel isn’t van-like, cross winds aren’t as scary as I thought they would be and the gearbox is well-tuned to its power source. Kia claims a top speed of 190km/h and 0-100 in 13.6 seconds… our best run was a whopping 3.4 seconds faster (at sea level).
It gets even better. The Korean manufacturer claims that its product will sip an average of eight litres per 100km and while that will only be possible on a slow ‘n steady cruise, our test car helped itself to no more than two extra litres. And because it’s fitted with an 80L tank, the Grand Sedona is a highly efficient way of moving your family about.
The cynic in me will tell you that none of this matters. The immense comfort and space, the excellent toys and drive train, it simply isn’t relevant in our market. People may agree with my review but I fear they’ll buy an SUV instead; even if it only ever touches tarmac. And that’s such a pity because this Kia proves how amazing MPV’s can be.
Each Grand Sedona is sold with a five-year unlimited-mileage warranty as well as a five-year 100,000km service plan.
0-10km/h: 0,51 seconds
0-20km/h: 1,23 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,92 seconds
0-40km/h: 2,77 seconds
0-50km/h: 3,57 seconds
0-60km/h: 4,70 seconds
0-70km/h: 5,79 seconds
0-80km/h: 7,02 seconds
0-90km/h: 8,59 seconds
0-100km/h: 10,21 seconds
0-110km/h: 12,05 seconds
0-120km/h: 14,27 seconds
0-130km/h: 16,78 seconds
0-140km/h: 19,68 seconds
0-150km/h: 23,21 seconds
0-160km/h: 28,00 seconds
0-100m: 7,48 seconds @ 83,36km/h
0-200m: 11,27 seconds @ 105,87km/h
0-300m: 14,44 seconds @ 120,69km/h
0-400m: 17,29 seconds @ 131,72km/h
100-0km/h: 3,05 seconds @ 39,10 metres (once-off)
Maximum deceleration G-force: 1.07G
0-10mph: 0,93 seconds
0-20mph: 2,12 seconds
0-30mph: 3,41 seconds
0-40mph: 5,14 seconds
0-50mph: 7,09 seconds
0-60mph: 9,63 seconds
0-70mph: 12,67 seconds
0-80mph: 16,42 seconds
0-90mph: 21,31 seconds
0-100mph: 28,44 seconds
1/4 mile: 17,35 seconds @ 82,01 mph
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.50G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box