The next gen­er­a­tion

Kia is tak­ing on its ri­vals with style, writes Paul Pot­tinger in New Zealand

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

THE multi-cul­tural Kia Sportage has just had a com­plete makeover, in­clud­ing a $25,990 start­ing price.

De­signed by an Ital­ian based in Cal­i­for­nia, built in Korea and adapted for Aus­tralian con­di­tions, it is the third gen­er­a­tion of the Sportage.

The start­ing price is for an Si Sportage with a 2-litre petrol en­gine and front-wheel drive, and the top end is up to $38,990 for the Plat­inum AWD diesel.

It’s up against a grow­ing ar­ray of medium SUVs in­clud­ing Volk­swa­gen’s Tiguan, Nis­san’s Dualis, Hyundai’s ix35, Holden’s Captiva, Mit­subishi’s new ASX and the stal­wart Toy­ota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

The vis­ually strik­ing Sportage is de­signed by Mas­simo Fras­cella, fea­tur­ing the cor­po­rate grille and ac­cents that have be­come fa­mil­iar un­der the di­rec­tion of chief de­signer Peter Schreyer. But, as Kia Aus­tralia mar­ket­ing boss Steve Watt says, the fo­cus is on ride qual­ity to match the de­sign.

The Aus­tralian ver­sion of the Sportage gets a sus­pen­sion and steer­ing set-up adapted from the Bri­tish ver­sion and re­fined over 1700km of test­ing. The mid and top-line ver­sions also re­ceive a new AWD sys­tem from Magna Dy­na­max.

Kia Mo­tors Aus­tralia’s CEO M.K. Kim says forth­com­ing Kias will re­ceive the same treat­ment.

‘‘Sportage is the first of our new­gen­er­a­tion cars to ben­e­fit from the de­ter­mi­na­tion to de­liver Aus­tralian flavour. It will not be the last,’’ he says.

The value equa­tion is com­pelling on the Sportage. The front-wheeldrive Si man­ual is $1000 less than the ri­val ix35 from Hyundai, and the sixspeed auto adds $2000. It comes with 17-inch al­loys, front fog lamps, and six airbags. The mid-spec SLi runs a 130kW/227Nm 2.4-litre petrol en­gine ($31,990) or a 2.0-litre tur­bod­iesel ($34,990) through a six-speed auto. It in­cludes chrome ac­cents, leather trim, rear-view cam­era and roof rails.

The Plat­inum uses the same driv­e­trains (petrol $35,990; diesel $38,990) and adds full leather, day­time run­ning lights, smart key and ven­ti­lated driver’s seat.

Value: the new Kia Sportage is packed with fea­tures, has a slick de­sign and an af­ford­able price tag.

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