SUV goes one better
The new Kia Sportage has stood up to its Korean big brother from Hyundai, writes Paul Gover
AUSTRALIA is a growing priority for Kia of South Korea. Success Down Under is an indicator of the likelihood of conquests in other countries, particularly as it battles to make an impact against the senior partner in Korea’s biggest motoring juggernaut, Hyundai.
Carsguide already rates the Hyundai ix35 as one of the best new SUVs of 2010. We’ve now had time with the Kia Sportage— and it’s better.
The two family haulers are twins under the skin but Kia has its own body and, crucially, its own suspension and steering for Australia.
The changes may sound minor but they make enough difference to sway a potential buyer.
The latest Sportage — and remember the nameplate has been around since 1993, long before the Hyundai takeover — is a huge advance over earlier models and is now worthy of serious comparison with a Honda CRV, a Toyota RAV4 and the other Japanese compact SUVs.
NO ONE can criticise the value at Kia, and the Sportage kicks a big goal with prices that are $1000 below an equivalent ix35.
The price spread is $25,990 to $38,990, from a front-drive Sportage Si with a 2-litre petrol engine and manual gearbox up to the all-wheel drive Platinum diesel with six-speed auto.
The six models are all five-seaters with bodies sized right for the class and everyday family work. Even the Si starter car comes with aircon, alloys and the usual electric assists, but you only have to move up to the SLi for leather trim, a trip computer, cruise control, reverse camera and a bunch of other fun stuff.
The Platinum pack at the top end provides a sunroof, LED daytime lights, a thumping sound system and a ‘‘smart key’’ with start button.
THE new Sportage is bigger than the outgoing model and has a lot of extra space inside, as well as a new mechanical package.
The three engines — two petrol, one diesel with a spread from 122-135kW and 197-393Nm — are configured in a series of logical steps.
The 2-litre petrol comes on front and allwheel drive models with five-speed manual or