2008 Kia Mohave | road test

Posted on Jun 24, 2008 by

Desert Stormer?

The Mohave
(pronounced Mo-har-vee) is named after Kia’s rigorous testing
ground in the US desert which intrudes on four states and has Las
Vegas as a glittering oasis in its centre. So in theory, having been
honed in such a demanding environment – the desert, not Las Vegas –
it should be perfectly suited to the Middle East. Kia is positioning
the Mohave in the opposite fighting corner to the likes of the
Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Land Cruiser and Volvo
XC90, and at first glance, if price is your primary reason for
buying, then the Mohave will suit you well as Kia have pledged to
undercut the Japanese makers, although no pricetag has yet been
announced.

At the press launch last
week UAE journalists were treated to a leisurely drive from the
centre of Dubai out into the middle of the desert where we hoped to
be able to put the Mohave through its paces both on and off road.

So what does the Mohave
offer? From the outside the angular face reminiscent of some of the
Stateside 4x4s feels a little out of place on a Kia, but once you get
used to its broad and gently sloping chrome grin and wrap-around
headlamps, there is something quite forward-looking and simple about
it, based as it is on the MESA concept first shown in Detroit in
2005. It’s not really until you look beyond the rear wheel-arch
that the rear three-quarter window and sloping rear pillar giveaway
that it is a Kia, but even then these characteristics are subtle.
Once you move around to the rear once again there is a simplicity and
a modernism about the wide tailgate window and the wrap-around LED
brake lights that is appealing.

One assumes that Kia
expect the Mohave to be used at least in some degree for rugged
duties as it features a sump guard, as well plastic wheel-arch and
lower door guards which lack subtlety and mimic again many US 4x4s,
but do make the Mohave appear slightly longer.

The interior of the
Mohave shouldn’t really be a surprise by now. Kia have ploughed a
lot of research and effort into refining the quality that the
customer can expect for the amount of money they spend, and it seems
that they have come up trumps with the Mohave. OK, the leather is not
of the highest quality and the interior materials are not up to the
standard of premium quality SUVs, but for perceived quality, texture,
fit and finish, you really cannot complain.

The Mohave features most
mod cons that you would expect in vehicles of higher spec, including
8-way adjustable driver and passenger seats, electronic reach and
rake adjustable steering, keyless entry, push button start/stop, HID
headlamps, electronic pedal adjustment, satnav with integrated
entertainment system with USB, iPod and AUX compatibility, cruise
control, hill decent assist, fully independent front and rear
suspension with electronic height adjustment, and 2H/4H/4L gearing
selection.

 

 

As the driver, the first
thing you notice is the innovative design of the instrument cluster
and the red backlighting when you switch on the lights. You also
notice the subtle design elements such as the matt wood veneer or
brushed aluminium effect inlays common to executive vehicles, as well
as a quality of fit and finish that exceeds many of the Kia’s
competitors.

To drive, the Mohave
feels fairly sure-footed and as responsive to inputs as you would
expect a 5m long, 2m wide 7-seater SUV to be. The 3.8-litre V6 engine
has a surprisingly throaty voice and with 270bhp and 362Nm of torque
on call, it is also nimble off the line, reaching 100km/h in a
respectable 8.5 seconds. Kia is also proposing to introduce a
4.6-litre V8 which should be even more impressive and will feature a
6-speed automatic box as opposed to the V6’s 5-speed auto.

Highway driving is very
comfortable in the Mohave although there did seem to be a low hum at
120km/h which sounded like it was coming from the transmission on the
vehicle we had, and the side curtain airbags deployed for no reason
on another vehicle. But these are teething problems we are assured.

Off-road the Mohave could
be quite adept. Unfortunately, Kia had obviously requested that the
organisers make sure their new ‘tough guy’ SUV was treated gently
with just a few light log obstacles, a run up a gentle dune and down
again and a 50 metre slalom course. Not really what you would call a
thorough test, but nevertheless the Mohave didn’t embarrass itself.

After four years in
development the Mohave looks set to be a serious contributor to Kia’s
fortunes, especially in this region. Global sales are projected to be
around 60,000 by the end of this year and 80,000 by the end of 2009.
With Kia currently riding a wave of popularity with a range of new
models due to be launched in the near future, of which the Mohave is
just one, the company looks set to continue challenging several of
the Japanese and US carmakers, especially with their very attractive
servicing and warranty packages, not to mention the pricetag.

With Kia you always used
to get what you pay for: now you get even more. Expect to see it Kia
showrooms by mid July.

2008  Technical Specifications

Type & Class – 4 Door Mid-Size SUV
Engine – 3.8-litre V6
Power – 270 Bhp
Torque – 362 Nm
0-100km/h – 8.5 secs
Transmission – 5-speed automatic
Price Range (unofficial) – AED 92,000 to AED 138,000

* Prices are indicative and may vary at the time of purchase. All prices are ex-Dubai showrooms. Please check with your local dealer for current prices and offers.

 

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