Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - DRIVEWAY - Bill Buys

KIA'S Sportages have al­ways been good, but in the lat­est model Kia has paid par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion on the way it drives, its safety, the room in­side, cabin tech­nol­ogy and its styling.

The Sportage's 'tiger nose' face with 'ice cube' lights is the lat­est Peter Schreyer de­sign and is also slightly longer in the wheel­base, giv­ing it more in­te­rior room, a big­ger boot, and bet­ter com­fort and han­dling.

Buy­ers have a choice of 114kW/192Nm 2.0-litre petrol or 136kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel en­gines in the Si and SLi grades, and the range-top­ping Plat­inum of­fers the choice of a 135kW/237Nm 2.4-litre petrol or the same tur­bod­iesel.

All come with an ex­cel­lent sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The 2.0litre petrol mod­els are front-wheel drive, but the diesels are all AWD.

Prices start from $28,990, but our fully-equipped Plat­inum diesel is priced at $45,990, a bit more than be­fore, but it does have a lot of new equip­ment, in­clud­ing au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, radar-ac­ti­vated for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing, blind spot alert, lane guid­ance, auto park­ing and auto-dip­ping head­lights. And a huge glass sun­roof. The ve­hi­cle also has a lot more high-strength steel in its con­struc­tion, which, safety apart, con­trib­utes to less tor­sional flexing and a bet­ter ride. And it's prob­a­bly the roomi­est in its class.

Kia was one of the pi­o­neers of hav­ing its prod­uct sus­pen­sion tuned es­pe­cially for Aus­tralian con­di­tions, and it shows.

The Sportage has a firm, Euro-like set-up which makes for pre­cise steer­ing and ex­cel­lent com­po­sure through fast bends, plus the abil­ity to soak up road im­per­fec­tions with­out jolt­ing its oc­cu­pants.

In­side, the Plat­inum has a 4.2inch colour TFT clus­ter, a 7-inch touch­screen mul­ti­me­dia screen, re­vers­ing cam­era dis­play, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and a wire­less charger for mo­bile de­vices.

There's also Blue­tooth hands­free con­nec­tiv­ity, and aux-in and USB ports for smart­phones and MP3 mu­sic play­ers.

The front seats have 10-way pow­ered ad­just­ment, the con­trols are well placed and easy to use, and for­ward vis­i­bil­ity has been im­proved via the use of slim­mer Apil­lars. Back seat folk are well looked af­ter with very good seat­ing and ad­justable back­rests, and very lit­tle tyre and road noise pen­e­trates the in­te­rior.

The Sportage nat­u­rally has all the safety acronyms of the mo­ment, plus six airbags and prac­ti­cal own­ers will be happy to know the spare wheel is a full-size al­loy, - a rar­ity these days.

Ver­dict: The Sportage is in a fiercely con­tested mar­ket, but the lat­est one is prob­a­bly the best of the lot. And it comes with a sev­enyear un­lim­ited km war­ranty.

The Sportage Plat­inum is top of its class.

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