Break­ing the MOULD

The launch of the KM Kia Sportage was a fresh start, writes Graham Smith

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

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.

Model watch

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.

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