Once upon a time Kia made budget cars whose only redeeming feature was the fact they were incredibly cheap. In terms of time that wasn’t really that long ago. In terms of how far Kia has come it may as well be a million years ago. A measure of that progress is the fact that nobody will be surprised to learn that Kia was voted ‘Best Manufacturer’ at the recent Autocar Awards 2023.
This year’s event took place at Silverstone with awards going to the best cars of the last 12 months, as well as the people who made them.
In Kia’s case, the last 12 months or so have been a huge success. 2022 was the first year it sold more than 100,000 cars making it one of the most popular brands in Europe. In the UK alone, Kia has a 6.5% share of the new car market putting it in fifth place behind only Audi, BMW, Ford, and VW.
That wave of sales has been driven by the arrival of the brand-new Kia Niro crossover and Sportage compact SUV, while the EV6, the Ceed and XCeed, Rio, and Stonic have all had significant facelifts. There’s also the Sorento full-size SUV and Soul EV to consider, and the brand new EV9. The product range Kia has to offer at the moment really is bang up to date and has something for every driver.
A key part of the success has been Kia’s ability to get the design details right over and over again.
It was the design of the Niro and Sportage that impressed the Autocar judges and made sure that this year’s Best Manufacturer award couldn’t go anywhere else. Right across the range Kia has created a distinctive look that’s proved its appeal to a wide range of drivers. It began a few years ago when Kia introduced the Stinger, followed up by the sleek ProCeed, and has now got as far as the futuristic hints found in the design of the EV6. It’s the ideal combination of distinctive yet understated.
This isn’t a case of style over substance either. The excellent build quality can be seen in the choice of materials and the solid feel of the switches. Add in the wide range of engine choices, and an ever-growing number of electric options – there’ll be 15 fully electric vehicles in the line-up by 2027 – and it’s plain to see that Kia is on a roll.
The recipe for all that success is quite simple. Kia has been around for quite some time now, and while there may have been some rather bland and uninspiring cars in the early days, that was all part of the learning curve. Kia has used that early experience to understand the European market and now those lessons are being put into practice.
It can actually be summed up quite easily – if you’re about to lease a new car there really isn’t a good reason not to lease a Kia
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