The Kia Rondo is the seven-seater car and for some big families on a budget that alone might be a good enough reason to buy one.
The Rondo’s days are numbered. Although it definitely won’t be wiped off the map in 2013, it has to be thoroughly revamped if it wants to compete with the new Ford C-Max and recent Mazda5. In the meantime, the 2012 model is a carbon copy of the 2011, except for a few minor tweaks. The two engines offered are a 2.4L 4-cylinder and a 2.7L V6. These can be paired with either a 4-speed or 5-speed automatic transmission.
With a starting price of $25,990 before on-road costs for the five-speed manual Si variant, the Rondo is currently the only people-mover available for less than $30,000.
Under the bonnet of the Kia Rondo sits a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that on paper doesn’t sound particularly well equipped to propel a vehicle designed to carry multiple people. There’s merely 106kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 189Nm of torque (at 4250rpm).
Stepping on the throttle, the Rondo feels surprisingly responsive, although the apparent enthusiasm is actually just a case of an oversensitive accelerator pedal that quickly becomes tiresome and makes smooth driving an effort.
While it’s capable and reasonably well-behaved around town, the engine’s eagerness is swiftly converted to slow progression and loud engine noise when you ask it to accelerate a little harder, head up a hill, or pull half a dozen people as the car is intended to do.
The four-speed auto does the ageing petrol engine few favours. The gearbox kicks back violently when you sink the boot in to overtake, sending the revs flaring, increasing noise and decreasing refinement and comfort.
The auto model uses a competitive 8.6 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle, bettering the manual by 0.1L/100km.
For those on the tightest of budgets, though, who need to haul more than five people and have less than $35,000 – or even less than $30,000 – the Kia Rondo is an honest, spacious and versatile option, but one that is let down by an underpowered engine.
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