Kia sharpens up its popular Sportage SUV
A new engine offering and revised styling are just some of the highlights
It’s been 25 years since the Kia Sportage arrived. Though the initial model didn’t direct perceptions of what an SUV could be, generation 3, which was sold from 2010 to 2016, certainly shook up the opinions of sceptics and cemented Kia’s arrival with many SUV buyers.
With 5-million sales racked up globally, Gen 3 remains Kia’s most successful model. Now in its fourth iteration, the newly minted facelift has just gone on sale in SA. Headline changes are to the exterior and a grade reshuffle. In the words of Kia SA’s David Seiff: “This mid-life enhancement adds value and reduction in complexity to the range.”
Kia has axed the pair of 2.4 GDI models and the 1.6 T-GDI Sportage found in SX AWD and GT-line trim, reducing the model count from 12 to nine derivatives.
There is an addition to the powertrain line-up though. The 1.6 GDI (gasoline direct injection) is a new generation, naturally aspirated petrol engine that produces 97kW and 161Nm, and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Performance credentials are listed as 12.1 seconds to reach 100km/h and a top speed of 170km/h.We spent half the day huffing and puffing up and down Western Cape roads in it and at R379,995, this new entry-level is priced very well indeed.
Standard fitment items count manual air-conditioning, automatic headlamp control with “Welcome Home” and “Escort” lighting, LED daytime running lights, electric side mirrors with integrated indicator lamps, a centre console armrest with integrated storage box, Bluetooth connectivity, a radio with six speakers, electric windows front and rear, rear park distance control and high-performance dampers, leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote controls for audio, telephony and cruise control and stands on new design 16-inch alloy wheels with 215/70 R16 rubber.
The entire Sportage range benefits from an extensive safety features list that includes ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), six airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchors as standard, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, downhill brake control and park distance control sensors at the rear. Shop higher up in EX and EX Plus specification and you gain front parking sensors, a reverse camera and a colour touchscreen.
That’s a lot of kit and any Sportage model looks good to own. But on the day the new 1.6 GDI could never compete with the models fitted with the 131kW and 400Nm 2.0l CRDI engine when it comes to satisfying the driver.
Exclusively equipped with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, the CRDI is the one to buy for good overtaking power. It’s good for 9.3 seconds from 0-100km/h with a top speed of 203km/h. This powertrain choice is also available with the Ignite Plus specification, which adds auto-folding side mirrors, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, front fog lamps and fatter 17 inch wheels with 225/60 R17 rubber. It’s a R74,000 premium above the entry-level model but it’s my pick of the extensive range.
Kia has sharpened up its SUV with the firm’s current corporate design language that applies even more aggression with strategic re-imagination of its front bumper, which gets prominently larger air-ducts around a revised tiger nose grille. The front also gets new-design LED daytime running lights, while rear styling is dominated by a new connecting strip between the tail light clusters. Adding to its visual enhancement is a selection of new paint choices and striking new alloy wheel designs in 16, 17 or 19-inch sizes.
All Sportage models come standard with an unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty as well as a standard five-year/90,000km service plan and five years of roadside assistance.
KIA Sportage 1.6 GDI Ignite (6-Speed Auto) R379,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-Speed Manual) R389,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-Speed Auto) R403,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI Ignite Plus (8-Speed Auto) R453,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 EX (6-Speed Auto) R459,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX (8-Speed Auto) R509,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX AWD (8-Speed Auto) R536,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 EX Plus (6-Speed Auto) R499,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX Plus (8-Speed Auto) R549,995