Breaking the MOULD
The launch of the KM Kia Sportage was a fresh start, writes Graham Smith
PAUL Gover opened his road test report on the new KM Kia Sportage in 2005 by saying that Korea was starting to produce some surprisingly good cars.
It was a profound observation, and a particularly apt one for Kia, which has lifted its game amazingly in the past five years with new models such as the KM Sportage.
KIA was throwing off the baggage that came with being a producer of cheap and cheerful cars when it launched the KM Sportage — and it showed in the new SUV.
The original Sportage was a tough old nail that won a lot of supporters, who appreciated its ruggedness when they went bush, but the KM was aimed at townfolk who wanted a more refined ride and couldn’t care less about leaving the bitumen.
With Kia safely tucked up in bed with Hyundai it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody that the KM Sportage was a kissin’ cousin of the Hyundai Tucson.
Given the improvement in quality and refinement, in fact in all areas, that Hyundai was making in doublequick time, that relationship could only be good.
Gone were the boring, bland lines and boxy shape of the old Sportage. The new model had softer, more curvy lines that made it a much more appealing proposition for city slickers.
The lift in quality was obvious. The panels met with a precision that wasn’t there before, the cheap old plastic smell was gone and the interior was cleaner and more pleasant all round.
Kia was also able to claim class leadership when it came to cabin space, a definite plus for those with a tribe to transport.
Mechanically, the KM Sportage was powered by a 2.7-litre double overhead camshaft V6 that pumped out 129kW at 6000 revs and 241Nm at 4000 revs and was hooked up to a four-speed automatic transmission with drive delivered through all four wheels as traction determined.
For the majority of the time the drive goes through the front wheels, but when conditions demanded, the system could send up to 50 per cent of the drive to the rear wheels.
The suspension was independent all round, with disc brakes overseen by ABS electronics, and the power steering was rack-and-pinion. Inside, there was plenty of usable space — the seats were comfortable and there was heaps of standard gear, including air, cruise, six-speaker CD sound, remote central locking, immobiliser, power windows and mirrors, fog lamps and alloy wheels.
On the road
WHILE it was clear that Kia had
Appealing: the 2005 Kia Sportage with its refined ride was an obvious improvement over previous models.