Kia Magentis

We recently reported on the green machine of the future — the Google car, part-funded by the internet giant. However, I suspect Google has got it all wrong, because it’s the Kia Magentis that is the true future of motor transport.

It may be bland, it may be soulless, but it’s functional and it’s cheap, and as taxes on motorists cut deeper, and fuel becomes costlier, many more of us may end up driving this type of vehicle.

The Magentis made little impact when launched in 2001, and it’s unrecognisable to most people, as is this facelifted model introduced in 2006, which ran until the range was rationalised, and again facelifted, for 2009. A mid-range saloon competing with the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra, the 2006 Magentis was larger, better equipped and better-looking than the generation it replaced, and as it undercut rivals by some £3,000, Kia expected it to be a success. It wasn’t.

Three years on, the plain Magentis is a rare sight on UK roads, and demand on the used-car market is underwhelming. But if the badge is less important than space and reliability, then buying a used Magentis is not such a silly idea. A three-year-old, entry-level model with modest mileage can be bought for less than £5,000.

There are 2-litre and 2.7-litre V6 petrol models (the latter is very rare), and a 2-litre diesel, and if economy is a primary consideration, you can forget the thirsty V6. The 2-litre petrol fares a little better, managing about 35mpg overall, but the diesel returns some 45mpg.

Slip behind the wheel and you are met by large, clear dials and an ocean of hard grey plastic. It may be bland, but in the same way that Tupperware never seems to wear out, you get the feeling Magentis trim could outlive its owner.

Kia offered just two trim grades — GS and LS. Both came with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric mirrors and windows, a CD player and front and side-impact curtain airbags. The top-spec LS commands a premium of about £800 second-hand and offers heated front seats (with electric adjustment for the driver), leather upholstery, parking sensors and upgraded air-conditioning.

Slow sales saw Kia revise the Magentis in late 2008, at which point it dropped both petrol engines. New badging and a sleeker look also resulted in a new price structure, effectively leaving just one model — the TR — with a choice of manual or automatic gearbox.

While the Magentis may not stand out as the best at anything, it’s really quite a good car, especially at the price.

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