Just over two years have passed since the current Kia Sportage made its South African debut, which means its facelift is a year early.
Not that we mind, because the upgrade includes a few things that will definitely make a difference to the driving experience. Kia also took the opportunity to revamp the range a little to suit the needs of its local audience.
At the front, Sportage retains its striking headlamps, incorporating unique LED Daytime Running Lights, as well as a slightly revised, more prominent “tiger nose” grille and a new bumper. At the rear it also gains a revised bumper that emphasizes the car’s width, while the rest remains the same. Other enhancements include a new selection of alloy wheel designs in 16-, 17- or 19-inch sizes (model dependent), as well as a range of new colour options.
In terms of the model line-up, Kia axed the SX all-wheel drive derivative, as well as the GT Line specification. The Ignite entry-level specification remains, but it receives a few new features. It’s list of standard fare basically includes everything you really need, including Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning and rear parking sensors. Ignite models also feature fabric upholstery, as well as a new leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote controls for audio, telephony and cruise control, and a new leather-wrapped gearshift.
Building on the Ignite specification, the revised Ignite Plus range also includes auto-folding side mirrors and an electrochromatic rear-view mirror on the inside, gaining notably on its exterior appeal with the addition of front fog lamps and stylish new 17-inch wheels.
The EX models gain front parking sensors, auto rain-sensing wipers and an Electric Parking Brake with Auto Hold function. Its Bluetooth system incorporates Voice Recognition, and the air-conditioning system is upgraded from manual to automatic. Seats are upgraded to leather upholstery, and gain electric adjustment functionality.
The most impressive new feature is a seven-inch colour touchscreen that incorporates not only the reverse camera display, but also Apple CarPlay.
The singular all-wheel drive model is available in EX specification, while the range-topping EX Plus adds even more luxury, such as 19-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, USB port for rear passengers and an eight-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation. A wireless phone charger is chucked in as well.
Engine wise Kia dropped the 2.4-litre petrol and 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel remain.
There is a new 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol, available only in Ignite guise. It produces 97kW and 161Nm of torque and is mated to six-speed automatic. Retailing at just R380 000, it’s a mere R10 000 more expensive that a Hyundai Creta equipped with the same engine. We haven’t driven them back-to-back, but it’s worth stating that the Sportage is a step up in terms of size compared to said Creta.
The 2.0-litre petrol is also mated to a six-speed manual box, while all diesel models receive Kia’s new eight-speed automatic shifter.
As a driving tool, the Sportage is as good as always. The new eight-speed automatic in the diesel derivatives does a magnificent job, and the Sportage is bound to be even more efficient that before thanks to it. After a 150km driving stint, the trip computer claimed that we were averaging 6.6l/100km. As we know from our standard economy run, those things aren’t always completely accurate, so we hope to test its real world fuel consumption soon.
All Sportage models ship as standard with KIA’s industry-leading unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty, as well as a standard five-year/900,000km service plan and 5 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