One of Kia’s strong points is fitting even the entry level of their vehicles with enough features to compete with higher level grades of its competitors.
The feature list on the base model of the new Kia Sportage is already quite long, and only getting longer as you upgrade to the Si Premium, SLi and ultimately, the GT-Line.
Combined with a sharp price and 7-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty as standard, these features make for a fantastic package, especially when considering the Sportage Si – the base model – comes as such a well-equipped, mid-size SUV. It is well positioned in a competitive market segment - a place where it definitely holding its own and even excels in certain aspects.
Kia has kept the styling changes for the new Sportage to a minimum compared to the previous generation , and in this case that’s a good thing. The Sportage was already a good looking vehicle with the right proportions, stance and boldness. You can spot a slightly redesigned grill and will find fog lights as standard across the range – no blacked out holes on the Sportage. They also have sharper lines then before, accentuating the outstanding headlights with upgraded LED daytime running lights. Kia has done similar with the taillights, just slightly tweaking them to keep them looking fresh without changing the complete look. More noticeable are the redesigned wheels in either 17- 18- or 19-inch depending on the grade. Combined, these make the Sportage more masculine and slightly more aggressive - look cool at the same time as it is practical.
When it comes to driving an SUV that will mainly be used to drive around town, pick up the kids and visit family on the weekend, the most important aspect is comfort. And the new Sportage has plenty of it. Inside the cabin is quiet, the suspension does an excellent job and steering is made even easier with new struts, tweaks to the front sub-frame and reworked dampers. You’ve still got three powertrains to choose from: a 2.0-litre (114kW/192Nm) or 2.4-litre petrol (135kW/237Nm) or 2.0-litre diesel (136Kw/400Nm). All come with an automatic gearbox, but unfortunately only the diesel variant comes with the new 8-speed that shifts through the gears even smoother than the 6-speed in the petrol version. Fuel economy is good with 7.9L/100km for the 2.0-litre, and 8.5L/100km for the 2.4-litre. The diesel is extremely frugal at just 6.8L/100km.
On top of the exceptional fuel economy, the diesel engine variant is the only one that comes with AWD (except on the GT-Line). It’s this diesel engine that also has the most torque and pulls away with ease anywhere. Having said that, the petrol engines are nifty units as well – the 2.4-litre obviously the sportier of the two. They’re not fast, though light on their feet and perfect for everyday driving.
It’s on a daily basis that Automatic Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and the six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, supply safety in spades. Standard on all grades are reversing camera, sensors, auto headlights and wipers. The Si Premium is further fitted with LED running lights and front parking sensors. It’s the GT-Line which makes the ultimate statement in driver safety – with Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert included. The top-of-the-line version also comes with Park Assist, which especially helps to get your car parallel parked without scratches in those tight spots in the CBD.
Though the changes inside the new Kia Sportage are small, they definitely feature a few options we like. We love the updated multimedia system (supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) controlled by a 7-inch touchscreen, along with the arrival of an electronic handbrake. The latter is only available from the SLi grade up, and comes with an automatic dimming rear view mirror and wipers.
The Si does however come with dual-zone climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever as standard.
From the Premium and up, you get another inch of screen and satellite navigation. Once you get to the GT-Line, you get all the creature comforts; leather ventilated and heated seats, an automatic tailgate, keyless entry, sunroof and wireless phone charging.
No matter which grade you choose, the Kia Sportage offers plenty of space for 5 people inside, with clever storage compartments in the doors, and a spacious feel. The front seats have a high seating position and provide great on-road visibility. Both rear seats (on the outside) have ISOFIX. The cargo space; 466L with seats up, and 1455L in full-flat position, is impressive and is more than most of the competition.
The trick in the mid-size SUV segment is not only to offer enough space and comfort, but also to fit your vehicle with the latest safety technology and multimedia features at a competitive price. That’s exactly what Kia has done with the new Sportage. The entry level Si is starting at just under $30k with the 2.0-litre petrol engine. The diesel sets you back an additional $5400, but will save you in fuel costs in the long run.
Add some more features, by opting for the Si Premium, which will tip you just over the $30k mark. The next step up SLi trim gets you close to $40k with AWD and diesel engine, but does get you the smart key push button start, 10-way driver’s power adjustable seat with lumbar support and privacy glass. Going all out and getting the GT-Line is just a small step if you get in with the petrol engine. If you want the top-of-the-line version with AWD and the diesel engine as well, you’ll be looking at close to $50k.
The Sportage was already a good looking car with plenty of features. Kia have managed to liven it up with a number of small tweaks to make it even more competitive than it already was. Fitting it with more safety features was a welcome addition; this is a car that is mainly going to be used by families with kids where safety matters most. Underneath the skin, the revisions make for improved comfort and the 8-speed gearbox for the fuel efficient diesel, makes for a smooth and economical ride. Add all of this to the seven-year, unlimited-kilometre factory warranty that comes standard with every Kia, and capped price service, and you’ve got a combination that’s hard to beat. A more then solid contender in the competitive mid-size SUV market, and this one will no doubt add to the car award winning streak from Kia.