APRIL 2012
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Test-drive reviews by NITISH S. RELE, motoringtampabay@gmail.com

There is no stopping Kia. After the eye-catching redesigns for the Optima sedan and the Sportage SUV, the Korean carmaker has zoomed in on the 2012 Kia Rio. Instead of the previous 110 hp, the 1.6-liter inline-4 cylinder engine puts out 138 horsepower @ 6300 rpm and 123 pounds-feet of torque @ 4850 rpm. Now, that’s adequate for dodging rush-hour traffic or hustling along on narrow streets and tight corners.

Other updates are a 6-speed manual (from 5 speed) and 6-speed auto (from 4 speed) transmission. Available as a hatchback or a sedan, the wheelbase gets a boost of 2.8 inches from its predecessor. Fuel mileage is touted at 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, which is fairly close to our figures during a week’s test drive. With gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon, this entry-level ride is a no-brainer.

Standard amenities on the subcompact car include a 60/40 rear seat, cavernous glove box, tilt and telescopic steering column, six-way driver’s adjustable seat, leather-wrapped shifter knob, trip computer, metal-finish trim and pedals, and air-conditioning.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, electronic stability and traction control systems, antilock four-wheel brakes, hill assist control, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, side impact door beams and front/rear crumple zones are standard.

This gas-sipper and affordable ride can not only carry five with plenty of room for cargo (13.7 and 15 cubic feet in sedan and hatchback respectively) but also offers decent performance. And to offer comfort, the car comes with 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain and 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranties.

Tires: 205/45R17
Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Length: 159.3 inches
Suspension: MacPherson-type front; torsion beam axle
Steering: electric rack and pinion
Weight: 2,483 pounds
Fuel capacity: 11.4 gallons
Base price: $17,770
Web site: www.kia.com


Freshened for 2012, the Mazda3 i Grand Touring is equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder engine developing 155 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 148 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. Distinguishing the power train from the previous one is the carmaker’s Skyactiv, which ensures tremendous fuel savings and torque boost via a high compression ratio. Hats off to Mazda for this unique technology, which doesn’t require turbochargers or electric motors.

Power reaches the front wheels via a slick-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission to give adequate performance. Absorbing the blows of potholes and broken pavement effortlessly is an independent MacPherson strut front and a multilink rear system. The electro-hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering is direct, accurate and properly weighted, making the compact car easy to place in corners or turns.

The front fascia of the bold-appearing vehicle has been updated with a fresh five-point black mesh grille flanked by halogen headlights. The cabin offers standard dual-zone automatic climate control, 265-watt Bose sound system, leather seats and leather-wrapped shifter, three-spoke tilt/telescopic steering wheel, eight-way power driver’s seat, trip computer, 60/40 fold rear seat, two front and rear cup holders and a substantial front center console with sliding armrest. The electroluminescent gauges for speedometer and tachometer, illuminated by red and blue colors with white needles, look cool. Also standard are navigation, moon roof and heated front seats, features you will find in a lot more expensive cars.

Safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, three-point safety belts, Dynamic Stability Control and traction control, remote keyless entry, active front headrests, side impact door beams and tire pressure monitoring system.

OK, passengers in the rear seat will be slightly crunched for room but otherwise this is a great everyday ride providing enough punch around town. Mazda’s best-selling vehicle should continue to deliver a level of performance and style that is unbeatable for the money in the years to come.

Tires: P205/55 R16
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Length: 180.9 inches
Weight: 2,950 pounds
City: 28 mpg
Highway; 40 mpg
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons
Base price: $22,300
Web site: www.mazdausa.com


THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer GT Sportback.

DOWN THE ROAD: It doesn’t pack the power of its high-performance Evo cousin but this Lancer’s got enough pizzazz to result in a comfortable, safe and spirited ride.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: Under the hood resides a 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine cranking out 168 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 167 pounds-feet of torque @ 4100 rpm. The Continuous Variable Transmission is smooth, accurate and easy to engage. Suspension is handled adeptly by a front MacPherson strut and multilink rear system to isolate occupants from road noise and rough surfaces. The hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering is razor sharp with a firm on-center feel. Brake feel is excellent, thanks to 11.6-inch ventilated front and 11.9-inch solid rear discs.

LOOK & FEEL: The sleek look of the Lancer Sportback can be attributed to a chrome grille surrounded by halogen headlights, air dam extension carrying a front splitter design and a center opening. Get behind the wheel and you will be greeted by attention-grabbing chrome accents on HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and piano-black accents on the instrument panel and front doors. Indeed, the fit and finish, gloss levels and materials are first rate. Keep an eye on the ECO indicator and you will eke out substantial fuel savings. Other standard amenities include auto a/c, terrific-feeling leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, six-way adjustable driver’s and four-way manual passenger seats, 60/40 fold rear seat, paddle shifters and trip computer.

SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver’s knee airbag, Active Stability Control, traction control, front crumple zones, four-wheel antilock brakes, three-point safety belts, active head restraints and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

OUT THE DOOR: $21,345, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P215/45R18; wheelbase; 103.7 inches; length, 180.4 inches; weight, 3,120 pounds; fuel capacity, 14.5 gallons; city, 22 mpg; highway, 29 mpg; Web site, www.mitsubishicars.com

WHY DIG IT: The Lancer Sportback is sporty, nimble, tossable and a fun car to drive. This highly practical package is tough to beat if you consider performance, generous passenger and cargo capacity, and price.

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