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Death Valley Hot Weather Test For New Kia Sportage

Kia Motors has revealed details of the intensive hot weather development tests for the all-new Kia Sportage as part of the most extreme and rigorous vehicle testing program ever devised by the company.

  • Kia Sportage heat testing

Kia Motors has revealed details of the intensive hot weather development tests for the all-new Kia Sportage as part of the most extreme and rigorous vehicle testing program ever devised by the company.

The all-new Sportage made its global debut at the 2015 Frankfurt International Motor Show earlier this month, and will go on sale globally in the first quarter of 2016.

Now entering its fourth-generation, Kia’s all-new compact CUV is undergoing the final stages of its development, with engineers testing the Sportage in Death Valley – one of the hottest places on Earth, with temperatures rising as high as 56ºC (132ºF) in the summer months.

This stage of testing means Kia can develop cars designed to operate in the harshest environments.

For the all-new Sportage’s hot weather test, particular focus has been placed on developing its class-leading heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Kia turns the heat up for class-leading air conditioning performance

Among the various individual hot weather testing methods, three gruelling tests are often employed by Kia’s vehicle test engineers, placing huge demand on the HVAC systems and the effects they have on engine and transmission cooling when used in the extreme heat.

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The first of these tests is the up-hill climb, in which the vehicle is soaked in the midday sun for an hour to bring the cabin temperature over 50ºC (122ºF).

The Sportage is then driven from sea level to almost 5,000 feet elevation through the aptly-named Furnace Creek area of Death Valley, a steady climb over 27 km at 100 km/h. The test is designed to ensure that the additional load placed on the engine has minimum impact on the car’s ability to cool itself and its occupants.

The second test, the stop-and-go drive, simulates typical conditions in a congested urban centre. Engineers drive the all-new Sportage at 40 km/h for two minutes through Furnace Creek, before stopping and idling for another two minutes.

The process is repeated several times, and – again – is designed to put additional strain on the engine, transmission and HVAC systems and eliminate any possible flaws.

The final test devised by Kia’s engineering teams for the all-new Sportage is a slow drive, which takes place at the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin – around 86 metres below sea level.

After another one-hour heat soak, the all-new Sportage is driven at 40 km/h for 30 minutes at a time, allowing vehicle engineers to verify – and improve – the capacity of the HVAC system when there is a dramatically reduced level of airflow to the air conditioning condenser unit.

In addition to the demands placed on the car by the extreme conditions of Death Valley, Kia also carries out a series of hot weather tests at the company’s own North American testing facility – the Mojave Proving Ground.

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