The new Kia Sportage is sporty and fun, but it has a serious side, too. It’s one of the most impressive vehicles that the Korean brand has created to date.
The previous, third-generation Sportage was an impressive piece of machinery, but the latest version of Kia’s compact SUV takes things to the next level. The latest Sportage is a deeply impressive vehicle. Let’s start with its looks. In a segment where it’s often only its badge that visually sets a vehicle apart from its competition, the Sportage offers unique styling. You can still spot several design ques from the previous model – and the new Sportage obviously sports that signature Kia ‘Tiger Nose’ grille – but the lines and dimensions of the Kia are interesting. It looks sporty and fun. In pictures, where judging scale is hard, the Sportage looks like a smaller vehicle than it actually is.
The attractive face of the Sportage features the biggest change to the car’s design over the outgoing model, with Kia’s hallmark grille and the car’s headlamps separated for the new model. The headlamps are now positioned higher, sweeping back along the outer edges of a sharply detailed bonnet. A lower, wider grille – enlarged to support greater engine cooling – adds more volume to the lower half of the Sportage’s face. The result is a more imposing appearance and a more stable-looking stance, despite the new model retaining the same 1 855mm width. Thanks to its sporty proportions, the new Sportage looks smaller than its predecessor, but it isn’t. It is 40mm longer overall, and its wheelbase has increased by 30mm. Height has remained the same (1 635mm), and the rear overhang has been reduced by 10mm.
The front overhang has increased by 20mm. Visually, all of this conspires to conjure up an image of an animal ready to pounce. But as impressive as the design of the Sportage is, it’s the cabin that really sets it apart from what has come before. The Sportage offers a level of specification and quality that places it in a premium bracket. Where the cabin of the outgoing Sportage was focused around a clearly defined central console with a vertical design, the new model features horizontal lines to emphasise the width of the interior more effectively, and to generate a greater impression of space and sportiness. According to Kia, the focus for the design team behind the new interior was to create a cabin that offered a wide, driver-oriented dashboard, with a simple, modern design. The interior blends metalwork with soft-touch materials and clearly defined horizontal lines, portraying a high level of mechanical precision.
When it comes to features, the Sportage obviously has all those nice to haves you’d expect from a vehicle in this class, but also boasts some things that you wouldn’t think to find at this price point. For example, the SUV has a wireless charger for mobile devices. Located at the base of the central instrument stack, the wireless charger enables users to charge their smartphones without a wire connection, for a cleaner appearance. High specification models in the Sportage range are also equipped with a seven-inch colour touchscreen with integrated satellite navigation as standard. These models also feature a rear-view parking camera, with dynamic parking lines displayed on the larger screen to assist when reversing into or out of a parking space. Kia’s Smart Power Tailgate, which opens the tailgate automatically when the key is ‘sensed’ close to the tailgate, is standard on higher specification models, and a Smart Welcome function, which turns on interior and door handle lamps and unfolds the door mirrors once the smart key fob is located within 1.3 to 1.7m of the door handle adds extra convenience.
And what about the drive-train? Buyers can choose between two petrol mills and one oilburner. There is a 2.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol mill, as well as a 1.6-litre turbocharged one. The turbo unit is quite lively, delivering 130kW and 265Nm of torque, but our pick is the 2.0-litre turbodiesel, which also offers 130kW, but has significantly more torque (400Nm). Mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, it makes long-distance driving pleasant and effortless. You’ve got the oomph needed to overtake, and fuel consumption is impressive. With the new Sportage, Kia has accomplished something quite special. It has created a fun and funky compact SUV that is sensible and practical. Sure, with 19-inch rims, the high-spec Sportage isn’t exactly designed for ugly roads, but there’s enough rubber to deal with the odd bit of dirt, and ground clearance is pegged at a usable 182mm. For your average road trip, the Sportage is a tempting proposition.
Open-road rating 8 out of 10.
The good Fun, frugal and well equipped.
The bad Not ideal for bad gravel roads.
Specifications – Kia Sportage Awd 2.0d A/T
Engine 2.0 Vgt Turbodiesel
Power 130kw @ 4 000r/Min
Torque 400nm @ 1 750r/Min
Transmission 6-Speed Automatic
4wd System Full-Time Awd
Fuel Tank 62 Litres
Fuel Consumption 7.3 Litres Per 100km
Tyre Size 245/45 R19
Spare Yes (Full-Size)
Luggage Space 466–1 455 Litres
Price R567 995