Driven: Kia’s suave Sportage SUV
YES, it is that good. The medium SUV is a sharply designed product with the backing of the industry’s best new car warranty.
The Sportage is at the forefront of the brand’s surge with sales of the medium SUV up more than 40 per cent yearon-year and the marque’s second best seller after the Cerato.
The base model front drive only 2.0-litre Si petrol is $29,990 on the road while the review vehicle with all the bells and whistles, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel Platinum GT Line, is $49,990.
There is a huge price difference between the entry level and the top of the range, but the Platinum is a classy and quality vehicle.
The Sportage is among the slickest medium-sized SUVs with concept car-like 19in rims, a body kit, blackened exterior and the cool headlight arrangements, including ice cube daytime running lamps, giving it an up-market presence.
Kia has adopted the same front-end arrangement across most of its range, with the large, keyhole-style grille a distinctive feature.
Inside, the Sportage is quite dark throughout, thanks mainly to its GT Line status.
Different shades of grey and black dominate with a lighter roof adding some brighter contrast.
At least in this top-spec version, in terms of practicality the Sportage is perfect in a lot of ways. It has loads of features that will be used every day and manages to avoid the majority of fiddly extras that won’t be used all that often.
It has a wireless charging pad for smartphones.
The multimedia screen is small, but high quality, and can be controlled either by a touch
or a clear, concise and easy-tooperate line of buttons on the centre console.
A pair of traditional analog instruments flank a wide digital screen in the centre of the dash.
Storage is plentiful and clever without going over the top.
There are two cupholders line astern in the centre console, space for larger bottles in all four doors, as well as a pair of slightly undersized cup holders in the rear centre armrest.
It’s well-equipped with leather trimmed seats, 19in alloys, auto emergency braking, lane departure, automatic tailgate, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, LED lights and fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, vented and heated powered seats, and parking assist.
The AWD version of the Sportage gets a six speed automatic transmission, as well as a remote button to lock the centre diff, while a ‘Drive Select’ switch allows for Eco and Sport modes for gearbox and throttle.
The Sportage is easy to drive, even with the addition of the heavier AWD/diesel drivetrain.
It’s also quiet, but the larger, wider, lower profile tyres, transmit road noise on coarse bitumen.
The little diesel is lively and, while there is a bit of gruffness at start-up, it quickly fades when the car is up to speed, especially when cruising at 100km/h
The steering is not too light and will vary with speed. It’s also got a surprising amount of feel for such a small, high-riding vehicle. The six-speeder can also be controlled via paddles.
The common rail direct injection 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is a willing performer with excellent manners.
Maximum power of 136kW arrives at 4000rpm, while its 400Nm of torque is available from as low as 1750rpm.
Kia claims a combined fuel economy figure of 6.8 litres per 100km. I saw a best of 7.3L/100km over 350km. The 62-litre diesel tank gives a theoretical range of 795km.
Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty includes roadside assist and a free first service at three months.
Cheap and cheerful doesn’t cut it for Kia anymore.
The Sportage Platinum GT Line is well-resolved, wellpackaged and thoroughly enjoyable.