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Kia Sportage sports a fresh facade

13.03.2014

GENERALLY speaking, when a vehicle marks its third year on the market, it is custom for its manufacturer to release an updated version more adept at taking on the heavily saturated market. In the mid-size SUV segment, the Kia Sportage has been doing well with over 9 000 units sold since 2011. With an updated model just released, it would appear that Kia is poised to maintain these impressive figures.

The most immediate change to the Sportage can be seen in its design. There is a new front grille along with redesigned fog lamps and a lower bumper position. There are also newly developed alloy wheels which, depending on the specification, can be either 17-inch or 18-inch items. At the rear, the lamps have also received a slight redesign. The exterior changes are actually so
subtle that you would be hard-pressed to spot much of a difference.

The interior also sports a few new features, for instance there is now soft padding on the door trim, which gives the cabin a more upmarket look and feel while a new 4.2-inch TFT display system has been integrated into the instrument cluster, which provides more vehicle data. The centre console also gets a 4.3-inch touch-screen TFT display that doubles as a rear-view camera. Should you opt for the all-wheel-drive model, a new Infinity sound system with a built-in sub woofer, external amplifier and built-in hard drive is standard.

The enhanced Sportage will still be available with two engines, namely the new 2.0-litre D-CVVT petrol engine that produces 116kW and 192Nm and the 2.0-litre VGT CRDi turbo-diesel motor that produces 130kW and 382Nm of torque. Both models are available with either a six-manual or automatic transmission. At the launch, I had the opportunity to sample the diesel and admittedly it is a very nice car to drive bar the sluggish auto box.

Kia, like many other manufacturers, has made the jump from hydraulic power steering to what it calls a motor (electrical) power steering system. One complaint that often arises after driving Kias of the past was the lack of steering feel. However, in the transition to an electric system, the Koreans seem to have improved the feel, which is not always the case during the switch to electric.

Other important changes include refinements to the driving experience and reduction of interior noise levels. This has been achieved by improvements to the core areas of the vehicle’s body structure. There is even a soundproof windscreen along with bush-mounted subframes that reduce noise penetration. Kia claims that road noise has been improved by 1.3dB while wind noise has been reduced by 1dB to 4dB.

Apparently, the waiting list for Kias has been steadily decreasing. This means that you will not have to wait extended periods for the majority of its vehicles.The Sportage range starts at R300 995 for the base 2.0-litre and goes up to R408 995 for the top-spec 2.0 CRDi AWD model. All variants come standard with a 5-year/100 000km warranty, a 5-year/100 000km service plan and a 3-year/unlimited roadside assistance plan.

Article written by Sean Nurse
13.03.2014
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