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KLIMS 2010: Hyundai & Kia - The Koreans show off their new cars

By Rigval on 07 Dec 2010

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The Kuala Lumpur Motor Show 2010 (KLIMS) is/was a showcase for both Hyundai and Kia. Ever since Hyundai bought over Kia in 1998, the Korean car manufacturers have gone forwards in Hulk-sized leaps and bounds. Over the past few years their design philosophy have changed drastically and their aggressive push to market their cars have proved successful. At KLIMS, we get to see their progress in the cars that they have displayed.

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We'll start with Hyundai. At KLIMS we get to see their latest Avante. Fresh from its preview at the recent Los Angeles Motor Show and the Korean Busan International Motor Show, the display at KLIMS proved that the South East Asian market is important for Hyundai. The Avante is indeed a curvy little sedan that is similar in size to the Kia Forte. For me it is better looking than the recently launched Hyundai Sonata and is the culmination of Hyundai's current design philosophy that started with the 'I' series of cars (i10,i20,i30). It looks so much more proportioned than the previous Avante which to me looked like a badly shaped coke bottle running wheels that are too small for the body. It has a very fluid (hence the 'fluidic design' term) design and have little curves and dips all over. Wash this car by hand and you'd be amazed to see curves everywhere. While I personally won't buy the car, it is a nice car to look at. Much like the latest Ford Focus in terms of design language.

The new Sonata was there and is already a familiar sight on the roads in Malaysia and Singapore. So looking at one on display did not push any buttons. The same goes to the facelifted Santa Fe. Both are quite handsome in terms of looks and the Sonata with its CLS aping looks still generated intrest among the visitors. I somehow think that the car looks like a sportier looking Toyota Camry. Which could be a good thing nonetheless.

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The other car that attracted by attention on the Hyundai stand is the iX Metro Concept Car (above & below). This car looks like a fish. It may be Hyundai's idea of what the future of supermini is but to me it looks like a fish. A Parrot Fish to be exact. This time Hyundai falls flat on its face. I hope someone from Hyundai realizes this fact and none of the external design cues escape. It should be locked up in Davy Jones' Locker.

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So Hyundai's cars at KLIMS were a hit and a miss. Kia on the other hand impressed me with its latest line-up. The new Sorento is indeed a decent SUV from a design point of view. The materials used for the cabin was also of pretty high quality. The switches are tactile to the touch and everything felt in its proper place. Somehow, if you ask me to choose this Sorento over Hyundai's feminine looking Santa Fe SUV I would take the Sorento any time. It is tougher looking and has build quality as good as the Hyundai. Ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer has actually made Kia the better brand to buy.

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This is shown clearly in the design of the new Cadenza (nee Opirus) as well as the new Optima. Both look fabulous sharing the same clean design philosophy of the smaller Forte. Its clean lines remind me of large European sedans from Vauxhall/Opel with touches of Audi in there somewhere. When you compare these two large sedans with Hyundai's new Sonata you can somehow see that Kia has more originality compared. Yes, I did mention that you can see Opel/Audi in them, but they are not trying to be a Mercedes CLS or a Passat CC. Like the Forte, you can see the European in them, but you can't see which exact model they are trying to become, unlike the Hyundai Sonata.

This little fact on design philosophy is the difference between Hyundai and Kia and this is the reason that I would choose a Kia over a Hyundai these days. Going to a motor show made me realize this.

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KLIMS 2010 and 6 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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Heartbreakid Dec 07 2010 10:27 AM
Truly much better than what the Japs have to offer
Cavver Dec 07 2010 01:17 PM
The iX Metro Concept look Alfa.
Deputylove8 Dec 07 2010 05:47 PM
Kia...please make the ex ceed a reality...
Elijahritz Feb 12 2011 12:25 PM
Those are nice model of cars. I never thought Kia and Hyundai would improve this much on the design of their cars. I really like the IX Metro Concept because it looks sporty and futuristic which really defines innovation. Also, the Optima is a fine and luxurious looking sedan. It has a nice huge body and bolder look which complements the lights and grille. I'm hoping to see these two in cars in person because I'm quite anxious to see it's engine, a/c bracket, exhaust system and interior. Anyway, great work Kia and Hyundai!
Thomas37 Feb 28 2013 05:44 PM
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