Kia’s big sedan
offers a lot more for the money
When it originally arrived in Canada as a 2004 model, the first-generation Amanti was criticized in some quarters as a less-than-inspiring attempt. Sure, it offered incredible value but it also took some lumps for mediocre performance and pillow-like driving dynamics.
In response, the Kia has given the 2007 Amanti 32 per cent more horsepower, a sophisticated new suspension and some exterior alterations, mostly limited to bolt-on body parts.
This mid-cycle restyle is evolutionary. The ’07 Amanti manages to retain its dated look despite a new grille, hood, fenders, front bumper, hood and headlights.
At the other end, there are new taillights, a new bumper, dual exhaust outlets. The trunk lid is also taller and longer, which, combined with increased overhang, brings cavern-like cargo capacity.
The interior design is total and way more effective. The instrument cluster and centre fascia are trimmed in real, not simulated aluminum, and the combination of white and blue instruments is modern and effective.
Both front and rear seats are large and well bolstered. Size counts in this segment and the Amanti accepts five passengers of any size in comfort.
The big news is power, and lots of it. A new 3.8-litre V6 with aluminum block and heads puts 264 horsepower to the front wheels through a 5-speed manumatic transmission, that’s 64 hp more than the ’06 model ooffered.
Nail the throttle from rest and 100 km/h arrives in 7.5 seconds, accompanied by a pleasant and refined growl. Yet, despite its newfound prowess, the Amanti’s fuel economy is also improved by as much as nine per cent in city driving.
Where the old version plowed and leaned in proximity to anything resembling a corner, the new model is much more composed, thanks to a new double wishbone front suspension and multiple links at the rear.
It takes a solid set in turns with reasonable alacrity. There is still some body lean and front-end push when cornering hard, but considerably less than before.
Once again the Amanti dazzles for its content. It has eight airbags, including side torso units for rear seat occupants, plus anti-lock brakes.
Also standard are power windows, mirrors and locks, heated mirrors and remote keyless entry at a base price of $31,995.
Somewhat surprising are some items now missing: The previously standard 6-disc CD changer, heated rear seats, and rain-sensing wipers are gone.
The $36,995 Luxury model brings larger, 17-inch alloy wheels, electronic stability control, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, 9-speaker Infinity audio system, leather seating with memory, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 4-inch monitor in the centre stack — the latter in preparation for a navigation system that will be available in 2008 models.
In Korea, ’Ki’ means rising up. And ’A’ stands for Asia. Together they spell Kia and trouble for competitors slow to respond to consumers with an interest in affordable luxury.
2007 Kia Amanti