The car is well-trimmed in soft ruched leather, it is beautifully turned-out, with high quality standards, and it's powered by a choice of engines - a 2-litre four and a 2.5-litre V6.
Styling is more European than traditional Far Eastern, with a strong chromed grille that features a semi-egg crate design highlighted by a chromed slat midway down, and flanked by oblong headlamps with clear polycarbonate covers and round headlights.
There are also additional round driving lamps between the main light cluster and the grille.
Under the heavy colour-coded bumpers is a slongly slated air intake, with projector-style foglamps at the extremities.
The bonnet features sculpted cutaways which flow down to the bumper line; the bonnet is one-piece incorporating the grille, giving better aerodynamics and negating the traditional above-grille cutline.
At the back the tail is clean and uncluttered, giving a wide and exciting stance highlighted by a chrome number plate recess trim which emphasises the strong boot line.
The very large rectangular rear taillight cluster has a hi-tech look, with polycarbonate lens covers embellished with faceted detailing.
The side view is traditional three box, the passenger compartment emphasised by large windows, while the nose slopes forward. There are aerodynamically-designed side sills, and a simple tail line, the whole emphasised by a strong central crease line running front to rear.
Pull-type door handles are also colour coded, together with the exterior mirrors. All models come with 15-inch alloy wheels shod with 205/60 tyres.
Classy additions include night-time illumination for the outside door keyhole, although normally the driver will use the remote control buttons mounted in the key. There's central locking.
Both the boot and bonnet are mounted on gas-lifters for safer opening and closing.
Inside the car has a clean and uncluttered look, with grey trim relieved by a black centre console.
The instrument cluster is deeply dished and features a speedometer and revcounter, plus fuel and temperature. The cluster features red illuminated pointers, backlit white markings and a digital odometer.
The centre console has a radio/CD/tape combination audio system, plus the controls for the ventilation system and air conditioning. The flagship V6 model is equipped with one touch button operated automatic climate control and chrome accents.
All windows are electrically operated from controls mounted in the door armrests, including electric windows and mirrors as well as the central locking.
Other modern conveniences include front and rear door map pockets, lockable cubby-hole, map reading and centre room lights plus electric fuel and boot openers.
The boot features a lock out facility which means the folding rear seats are lockable from the inside of the boot. This prevents access to the boot from inside the car.
There's a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and cruise control on the V6 - which also has electrical operation for the driver's seat.
There are two options available - a 2-litre double overhead camshaft 16-valve four cylinder with either five speed manual, or four-speed automatic transmissions. The motor has a maximum power output of 101 kW at 6 000 r/min, with 184 Nm of torque at 4 500 r/min.
Performance sees a claimed sea level 0-100 km/h time of 11.5 seconds, with the auto version 0.4 seconds slower. Maximum speed is rated at 207 km/h and 195 km/h respectively. Average fuel consumption is 8.6 litres/100 km.
The top of the range Magentis is only available in automatic and is powered by an all aluminium 2.5-litre quad cam V6 20-valve engine.
It gives 123 kW at 6 000 r/min, with 230 Nm of torque at 4 000 r/min. The claimed 100 km/h standing sprint time is 8.8 seconds with a top end of 209 km/h
Average fuel consumption figure is 10.3 litres/100 km.
The 4-speed automatic has a sequential manual mode.
Under the skin we find all-round independent suspension, the front with double-wishbones, coil springs and an anti-roll bar, while the rear rides on an independent multi-link set up with coil springs and anti-roll bar. The rear suspension also features DTC dynamic toe-in control for added rear end stability and comfort. In addition there are gas filled shock absorbers both front and rear.
On the road
The car is very comfortable, and quite spacious - in size, closer to the Volvo S60 than smaller executive cars. That means there's room for three adults in the back, although comfort levels are higher with just two.
Headroom and legroom are excellent.
It was quick and easy to find a comfortable driving position with height and reach adjustment on the seat, plus tilt adjustable steering, and the seats give armchair-like comfort.
The suspension, too, is designed more for comfort than out-and-out handling ability, and when pressing on in the mountains of Mpumalanga we found the car had a tendency to wallow through corners in a manner reminiscent of big Japanese cars of yesteryear.
Body roll is quite extensive - both from inside the car and when observing from outside - and one feels stiffer antiroll bars would give handling closer to what the target market is likely to expect.
Kia SA MD Ray Levin says the company is targeting 35 to 50 year olds, and especially fleet and corporate buyers - all of whom are more likely to be driving quickly than loitering along.
And the automatic gearbox doesn't cut to the chase. In auto mode it's quick to respond, but the ratios don't give the best on-road performance. Changing to the manual mode didn't help much either - the 'box was either slow to respond to driver input, or changed up on its own.
Braking, however, is super, with 280 mm ventilated discs at the front and 260 mm solid discs at the back. ABS with EBD is standard, with traction control on the V6 which uses wheel sensors to detect slippage in any drive wheel, responding by cutting engine output and applying brakes to the errant wheel.
On the safety front the cars come with dual front airbags and dual side airbags.
Kia and its partner Hyundai has big plans for world markets, and aims to be no. 5 in the world by 2010.
Certainly in terms of product and quality, coupled with value-for money, the company is moving forward rapidly, and sales and production are rising.
Customers in the UK and the US have also voted Kia quality at top levels in various consumer surveys, which augurs well for the global target.
Certainly the Magentis is no exception, and I was particularly taken by the styling, trim, and overall feel of the cars.
However, I felt both handling and power could have been better, or at least better UTILISED by using more modern gearboxes.
That said, go out and try it for yourself. One thing is sure - Levin has done a great job with the prices, and maybe this will compensate.
Service intervals are pegged at 15 000 km and the Magentis comes with a standard 3 year/60 000 km maintenance plan as well as a 3 year/100 000 km warranty and roadside assistance.
Kia Magentis 2.0 manual R189 995; automatic R199 995.
Kia Magentis 2.5 V6 automatic R219 995.