Practical Motoring’s 2014 Kia Rondo Si review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

In a nutshell The Kia Rondo Si is a compact seven-seat people mover that rounds out the Kia armoury.

Practical Motoring says Priced from just $32,490 (+ORC) and offering seven-seats and a decent equipment list the Kia Rondo is the perfect compact people mover for those living in the city and only needing the third row occasionally. That the Rondo is good to drive, well built and safe with a long (five-year) warranty is icing on the cake.

THE 2014 KIA RONDO was the final model in the Kia line-up to cop a design brush-up by Kia’s Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer. Indeed, he’d hinted to Australian motoring journalists back in 2012 at the Geneva Motor Show how tricky it would be to redesign the Rondo as he didn’t want the practicality of the thing to be compromised by the styling.

And it hasn’t been. The Rondo’s ‘Tiger Nose’ design language which also does service on the Rio, Optima, Pro’cee’d GT, and the Sportage. Indeed, Schreyer says his aim with the Rondo was to create a visual link to the Sportage which features the same specific design style. So, the design works, but what about the practicality? Well, there’s good news here, too, but stay with me.

The 2014 Kia Rondo is 20mm shorter than is predecessor, 15mm narrower and 40mm lower. Its overall height of 1600mm is identical to the Kia Soul and one of the lowest rooflines in the segment, and that gives the Rondo the appearance of being smaller than it actually is. Indeed, walk up to it from the front and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a Kia Rio, or is that just me?

Exterior dimensions aside, the new Rondo has a longer wheelbase (up by 50mm, to 2750mm) and seven seats (the second row can be slid forwards by 240mm and folded), although the two seats in the back are really just occasional seats. I tried squeezing my six-foot frame into back row and while I had enough headroom and the seat was comfortable enough, I had no room for my feet, but a post-booster seat child would fit in the back just fine.

The boot has grown by 17% (the boot is now 24mm longer, 48mm taller, and 67mm wider, or 999mm, 499mm up to the window, and 1080mm, respectively) and with the second-row of seats in place there’s 492 litres of storage, which grows to 1650 litres with the second-row folded. The front passenger seat and you can fit objects up to 2150mm long.

2014 kia rondo si interior

Kia is fast becoming one of the benchmarks at the budget-friendly end of the market and the Rondo is no exception. There are soft-touch plastics across the dash and matt black inserts that give the interior a touch of prestige. All of the buttons are well laid out and easy to use on the fly – a very functional interior, indeed.

Vision right around is good. The dashboard is set nice and low and the windows are deep; the wing mirrors are a decent size, too.

There are two engines available in the Kia Rondo range and our test car, an Rondo Si (the entry level Rondo diesel and priced from $32,490+ORC, the SLi is the top-spec variant), runs the 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel which produces 100kW (at 4000rpm) and 320Nm of torque (from 1750-2500rpm). The other available engine is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which makes 122kW and 213Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and fuel consumption is 6.4L/100km (or 7.3L/100km for the petrol).

While I haven’t driven the petrol model yet, the diesel would be my pick of the range after a week of testing it. It’s more powerful and more frugal than the petrol model, and a solid performer that easily keeps up with highway traffic and flattens hills, even with the family on-board.

2014 kia rondo si driving

If you’re cross-shopping the Kia Rondo with its rivals then the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s quite a bit firmer than other people movers, indeed, we’d whisper that it actually feels quite sporty. See, it runs firm springs and soft bushes to keep it from jiggling about, without feeling hard. And it managed to ride the choppy surfaces of Blue Mountains road works without upsetting the ride or handling.

The steering too is pretty good with the electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion set-up nicely tuned to offer enough weight off-centre to connect the driver with the doings of the front wheels although it’s a little doughy on-centre, meaning you have to keep steering the Rondo, ever-so-slightly, straight.

The brakes, which are disc brakes right around, are backed up with anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution and an emergency brake assist function which, Kia says, can help stop the Rondo from 100km/h in 40.8 metres (that would be in the dry, so expect emergency braking in the wet to be a bit longer than that).

On the topic of safety, the Kia Rondo scores a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating and a raft of active and passive safety features, including reversing camera and rear parking sensors (there are no front parking sensors on the Si). There are six airbags and traction and stability control systems.

Kia Rondo Si

Price $32,490 (+ORC) Warranty five-years, unlimited kilometres Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 1.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel Power/Torque 100kW/320Nm Transmission six-speed automatic Body 4525mm (L); 1805mm (W); 1610mm (H) Weight 1612kg Spare Temporary Thirst 6.4L/100km


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