Hard to fault SUV

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH


Kia has gone gang­busters in re­cent years, the qual­ity and re­fine­ment of its cur­rent cars lift­ing it out of the value-for­money rut in which it was once stuck.

No longer are cars like the Sportage the ones you punt on when you can’t af­ford some­thing bet­ter; they’re now cars you can buy with con­fi­dence and pride.

The trans­for­ma­tion of the Sportage, Kia’s com­pact SUV, was com­plete with the launch of the third gen­er­a­tion in 2010.

As an SUV that would do mainly ur­ban duty, the Sportage rode high for a good view of the road and had the rugged good looks to ap­peal to town­ies.

Be­ing a com­pact SUV the cabin was ad­e­quate rather than spa­cious but could fit five adults, even if the cen­tre rear pas­sen­ger found it a lit­tle squeezy. How­ever, it was a pleas­ant place to be, the pre­sen­ta­tion mod­ern and the switches and con­trols well placed and easy to use.

The three mod­els, from the base Si to the range-top­ping Plat­inum, were well equipped with just about ev­ery­thing you could want. Blue­tooth was one omis­sion but that was in­tro­duced in 2011.

The Si was two-wheel drive only and it came with a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der petrol en­gine and a choice of five-speed man­ual or six-speed sports-shift­ing auto.

The SLi and Plat­inum had on-de­mand all-wheel drive, there was a choice of 2.4-litre four-cylin­der petrol en­gine or 2.0-litre four-cylin­der turbo diesel, but with just the one trans­mis­sion, the six-speed au­to­matic.

On the road the 2.0-litre en­gine was ad­e­quate rather than thrilling, and the econ­omy was av­er­age for the class.

Be­ing slightly more pow­er­ful the larger 2.4-litre en­gine per­formed a lit­tle bet­ter but the turbo diesel was the best of the bunch with the most pulling power and the low­est con­sump­tion.

The ride and han­dling was best suited to town roads where most Sportages will see duty, but the on-de­mand all-wheel drive setup could han­dle bush road du­ties.

Hav­ing not been de­signed for heavy off-road use, the Sportage ul­ti­mately was limited by ground clear­ance and sus­pen­sion travel.


The re­cent leaps and bounds in Kia’s qual­ity are re­flected by the very low num­ber of com­plaints.

Most own­ers say they are happy with their cars, in­clud­ing the Sportage, and hap­pily rec­om­mend them to prospec­tive buy­ers.

There may be few is­sues with the third gen­er­a­tion Sportage but it is still very early in its over­all life­span. It’s al­ways pos­si­ble that is­sues could de­velop as the dis­tance climbs.

When buy­ing, think of the road ahead and check for a ser­vice record that shows your prospec­tive pur­chase has been prop­erly main­tained.

Ser­vic­ing is the key to a long and re­li­able life for any car, but it’s even more im­por­tant with to­day’s hi-tech cars that are be­ing built to ever tighter tol­er­ances.

Kia spec­i­fies ser­vice in­ter­vals of 12 months/ 15,000km, which is pretty much in­dus­try stan­dard, but griz­zled old-timers would in­sist that’s much too long and rec­om­mend in­ter­vals of 10,000km.

The good news is that all Kia en­gines since 2010 have cam tim­ing chains rather than belts, so there’s no call for regular changes.


Mark Ball’s 2011 Sportage SLi diesel has done 54,000km, trou­ble-free. “It’s easy to drive and we like the com­fort and the fuel econ­omy,” he says. “We chose the diesel be­cause we tow a car­a­van and it han­dles that with ease. Our only con­cerns are with the blind spots caused by the thick wind­screen pil­lars and rear-view mir­rors, and the brakes, which we had to re­place at 53,000km.

David An­der­son bought a 2010 Sportage Si 2.0-litre “af­ter hav­ing such a good run out of our 2001 Rio, and we think it is a fan­tas­tic car”.

A 2012 model, Robert Rose’s Sportage has clocked 62,000km. “It has done a lot of tow­ing, it’s been driven on bush roads go­ing camp­ing and it has been fault­less,” he says.


Hard to fault. Should be high on SUV shop­per’s lists.

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