Drive­way Bases are cov­ered

Cockburn Gazette - - DRIVE WAY -

KIA’S fourth gen­er­a­tion Sportage, launched in 2016, has just had a “prod­uct en­hance­ment” to keep it, so says the press blurb, “fresh and rel­e­vant”.

That’s code for “the com­pe­ti­tion has lifted its game, so we have to re­spond”.

Kia has now made au­tonomous emer­gency brak­ing, pre­vi­ously avail­able only on the top spec GT Line, stan­dard across the Sportage range.

There’s a catch; it works only from 10-80km/h.

Lane keep as­sist, which gives you au­di­ble and vis­ual warn­ings if you stray on to the lane mark­ings, and gen­tly prods the steer­ing back to­wards the cen­tre of the lane, is also stan­dard.

At base model 2.0-litre petrol Si level, Sportage still falls short of ri­val Mazda’s stan­dard safety spec in the CX-5 Maxx.

As with par­ent brand Hyundai, Kia’s in­fo­tain­ment is de­signed to work with your smart­phone via Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto. Only with these do you get voice con­trol func­tion­al­ity.

Other up­dates in­clude an eight-speed au­to­matic for 2.0-litre turbo diesel ver­sions, tweaked sus­pen­sion to im­prove ride com­fort, more pro­gres­sive steer­ing, LED head­lights on the GT Line, dual-zone air­con and the oblig­a­tory nose job/ tail-lights/al­loy wheels cos­metic tri­fecta.

The Si, tested here, car­ries over the 114kW 2.0litre petrol engine with sixspeed auto and front-wheel drive.

The Sportage’s ride/ han­dling com­pro­mise is one of the best in the class.

By class stan­dards, the ride re­mains firm but com­fort­able and ab­sorbent on all sur­faces, and wind and road noise lev­els are low.

On the road, the Si puts in an im­pres­sive per­for­mance for a base model.

Proof that low power and torque num­bers don’t al­ways mean slow progress, the 2.0-litre/auto com­bi­na­tion is sur­pris­ingly nippy and there is quite strong pulling power lower in the rev range.

It’s also smoother and qui­eter than your typ­i­cal four-cylin­der and the sixspeed auto works with un­ob­tru­sive ef­fi­ciency.

At speed, the Sportage has a tight, tidy Euro SUV feel thanks to sus­pen­sion tun­ing from lo­cal en­gi­neers who know how to do de­cent han­dling. At base model front wheel drive level, the Sportage punches on par with more ex­pen­sive ma­chin­ery.

Ver­dict: Two years after launch, the Sportage is still com­pet­i­tive.It’s one of the bet­ter base model drives and, if you’re shop­ping in this class with a $30K bud­get, the Si de­liv­ers solid value and gri­ef­free, low-cost own­er­ship.

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