Smooth op­er­a­tor

Herald Sun - Motoring - - SHORT CUT -

VALUE

It’s no cheapie but you get what you pay for. Fully loaded from $43,490 (diesel adds $2500), it gets 19-inch al­loys, leather trim, heated/cooled seats, sat­nav, auto park­ing, auto high-beam, adap­tive cruise con­trol, large sun­roof, wire­less phone charg­ing and auto tail­gate. New stock comes with An­droid Auto while Ap­ple CarPlay is in ne­go­ti­a­tion. It has a seven-year un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty. Ser­vice costs $1152 for three years/45,000km.

COM­FORT

Smooth is the key­word. It’s quiet, with comfy seats, good for­ward vi­sion and a flat-bot­tomed wheel that sits snugly in the hands. Rel­a­tive to out­go­ing model, it feels more lux­u­ri­ous and the ride qual­ity is sub­stan­tially bet­ter. It stays com­posed over bumps, reg­is­ter­ing a re­as­sur­ing thump on pot­holes. Leg and knee room are gen­er­ous in the rear but the boot could be larger.

SAFETY

High-strength steel abounds, as does plenty of ac­ci­dent pre­ven­tion gear, in­clud­ing for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing with au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, plus re­vers­ing cam­era, front and rear sen­sors, plus blind spot and lane de­par­ture warn­ings. Gets five stars from ANCAP, scor­ing 34.62/37.

DRIV­ING

The new 2.4-litre di­rect in­jec­tion petrol four lacks the lowdown grunt of a diesel but won’t dis­ap­point. There is a rorty note un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion and per­for­mance should be more than OK for most. The six-speed auto is smooth. The Sportage’s stronger chas­sis and longer wheel­base give bet­ter ride and han­dling. Drive modes are stan­dard, eco for bet­ter economy and sport for sharper re­sponses. We got 9.3L/100km over 400km.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES

Hyundai Tuc­son 1.6T AWD

High­lander, from $43,490 Es­sen­tially the same car un­der the skin, but with turbo en­gine (130kW/265Nm) and sev­en­speed dual-clutch auto. Peak torque from a low 1500rpm, mak­ing it a bet­ter off the line and eas­ier to drive in gen­eral. Thirst 7.7L/100km. War­ranty is five years/un­lim­ited km. Pay $1434 for six ser­vices (7500km in­ter­vals) over three years.

Mit­subishi Out­lander 2.4L

AWD Ex­ceed, from $43,490 Top of the line Out­lander with a larger boot rep­re­sents ex­cel­lent value for those on a bud­get. Smooth, com­fort­able and with a third row of seats at no ex­tra charge. Thirst is 7.2L/100km. War­ranty is five years/ 100,000km. Ser­vic­ing costs $1125 for three years/45,000km.

VER­DICT

The Sportage is a great com­pact SUV op­tion. Styling is more ag­gres­sive, it’s well equipped but the boot might not be large enough for a small fam­ily.

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