In somewhere arround 1990's, Kia launched the best sedan they ever been made, the Kia Sephia. The "Sephia" name is actually an acronym of these words: "style", "elegant", "powerful", "hi-tech", "ideal", and "auto". Really. You read them right.
And then, Indonesian 2nd president, Soeharto, decide that the Sephia was so badass that the Indonesian needs one of them. So he ask his son, Tommy Soeharto, to rebadge this car as a Timor S515i and sell it in Indonesia.
And then, in late 1990's, Tommy thinks he could improvise the awesomeness of the Sephia and create 2 body version, Wagon and 6-Door Limo (That's the Limo up there). But in 1997 Kia Gone bust. So does Timor in 1998. And they only produced 40 of these wagons, and auction it off in early 2000, with Codename SW516i and 8k price tag. So, how does this Indonesian Wagon fares? Let's see.
(Full Disclosure: Due to rising concern and interest to Kia Sephia recently, i thought it would be nice to put a detailed review of one of those. And since the normal sedan is not jalop enough, i decide to borrows my friend's wagon instead. You always want a wagon don't you?)
The Sephia sometimes considered as do-or-die mission for Kia. The sephia was build with such a degree in korean craftmanship, and sometimes considered as one of the last over-enginereed Kia. For example, the car has a rounded device on right hand side that if you rotate that thing to the left, you go to the left, and vice versa, and it's called the "Steering". There's also some stacked metal placed under the car to absorb bumps, called "Spring". There's also some kind of fancy-drilled vent made of some plastic that blows cooled air. It even has the manually adjusted rear-view mirror as a standard! How brilliant is that?
Anyway, let's get serious and move on to the review now!
This thing, in my opinion, has a rather good styling. It's like what if someone tell Kia to build a Subaru Legacy Wagon. So it quite handsome. Too bad my friend decide to give that thing a massive sized 19" wheels so it's not that good looking again. But i think give it 15 inch of steelies and it'll be a looker.
Well, it's full of plastics. Plastics everywhere. This is because kia wants to achieve a nostalgic feeling of your first car, the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. In fact they have the same material, which is not good. The fake wood doesn't help either. Bad mark against kia here.
Well, it has 1.6L Inline 4 Mazda-Licensed Engine, but built by Kia. It maybe only produce 105hp, but because the car only weigh 2500lbs, those 105 Ginseng-Fueled Half-Japanese Half-Korean Horse feels adequate. 0-60 takes high 11 seconds, and it'll pull all the way to 125, according to the manual.
But the way it accelerate is a bit weird. When you put your foot down, you'll have to wait to somewhere arround 3800 rpm, when suddenly all the horse wake up and pull the car. And then when you touch 5000 the engine will stops producing power and producing noise instead, until it redlines at 6500 rpm. Which is funny and sometimes makes the engine a bit unrefined at high RPM. But hey, you didn't shift at redline everyday, don't you?
It's rides a bit better as the civic from the same generation. I mean, really. It's like they set the suspension into soft because Indonesian road network is crap, and they think we needs a car that rides good, which is true. And yet somehow it's still has nice handling, simply because they let Prodrive (Yes, that Prodrive who builds Subaru WRX) to fiddle with suspension and handling. So it's quite good. Not Rolls-Royce good, but it's acceptable.
It has no any aid thingy like ABS, so it's a bit scary. Rear drum brakes don't help either. Plus the front brakes is small. But honestly, it's rather good. It has quite nice feeling, similar to corolla from the same time. But if you hit them hard it'll simply locks, you crashed, and die, and that's bad.
It's somehow has a magical handling. Really. Those Prodrive tuned supension and steering rack do their magic right, whether it's on track or on road. Plus coupled with light body (it's only 2500lbs!) and power, the handling is really good for korean wagon. But it's ruined by hideous rear-drum brakes, so you have to brake earlier and harder, or the car will be understeers because you take that corner with too much speed and then crashed into a tree and died. Again.
So when you sort out the brakes, it's as nimble as a current gen Honda Fit. Really.
The gearbox is good, a 5 speed manual. The low gears, 1-2, is short, good for stop and go traffic as a city commuter, so despite low power it could accelerate nicely to 25-30 mph like normal car. The Clutch has nice power as well. Not bad.
But the shifts are so unrefined it's like you broke a thing everytime you shifts. Which is stupid. And it's quite unreliable as well.
Actually, in this car because it has a custom speaker and exhaust, it sounds nice and should score 6.
Otherwise it's dreadful. In stock the engine sounds like what happens if you try to replicate the engine noise by rubbing 2 bricks together. The speaker is some kind of sand paper speakers thingy, so it's not good either.
It has, uh...
It has Air conditioner and radio. The rest like that head unit is custom. But the worst bit it has no heater. No biggie for us, Indonesian, that has no winter. But it's big issues for you folks in the sub-tropical.
Here's the catch, you only has to pay 8k for this in 2000, where economics was a bit bleak here in Asia. And in here, cars are mega expensive. The equivalent civic cost about 30k at that time, and the closest wagon you can buy is a Peugeot 306SW, and it cost 38k.
And that's why i love it, it's a dirt cheap wagon. Yes you may said you can buy old mercs or bimmers thingy, but sometimes there's something special about brand new car. It's like your first ever dog that you raised from that dog was a little puppy, no matter how ugly and anoying it is, you have lot of fun memories with them. And that's why i love it.