The Sportage looks good, the interior is classy and the engines are impressive. Does this new one live up to the standards set by its predecessor? Well, when it arrived at the Autodealer office, I grabbed the keys to find out.
On the outside, Kia has adopted a rather brave design for the front end. I like the prominent facia with its big grille which looks as though it’s grinning. It’s modern yet classy as well as easily identifiable.
Down the side, the Sportage genes really shine through with its angular design and somewhat sloped roof line. It is the rear end that I fancy the most. I love how the slim tail lamps are joined together by a strip that runs the full width, while the turn signals and reversing lights are separate, located lower down which add more visual weight.
The Sportage GT-Line I tested also features chrome detailing as well as dual exhaust mufflers and a metal-effect rear underbody diffuser for a sportier appearance.
On the way back home to Witbank from our offices in Boksburg, I got a chance to not only experience the quality interior but also the ride. As for the former, I was impressed. Kia has used many high quality materials and seeing as the GT-Line is the range topper, all the toys you could possibly wish for.
I had a centre mounted infotainment screen with navigation, a wireless smartphone charger, which incidentally failed to charge my iPhone 7, heated and air-conditioned front seats and even heated rear pews. There was also many buttons on the newly designed steering wheel which control the radio as well as the menu and phone functions.
Interior space is also adequate inside for head and leg room, while the rear tailgate on the GT-Line is powered for added convenience. The boot is large, 503-litres to be exact. Kia has also improved the noise cancelling refinement, which means noise levels within the cabin are kept to a minimum.
As for the engine, well there are a few options to choose from but my tester was fitted with the 1.6-litre turbocharged unit. It delivers 130kW and 265Nm of torque. Add to the mix a seven-speed duel-clutch transmission and AWD, you should therefore have a real sporty SUV on your hands right? Well, not quite.
With the added AWD system in place, the Sportage feels a bit heavy and the box is not the smoothest or fastest one out there, even in Sport mode. That said though, out on the highway the Kia's performance is noteworthy. In ECO mode, I managed an impressive 6.6-litres/100km on the highway and an average of 8.5-litres/100km over my test week.
After spending time with the car, I really did like it; sure it has its flaws but it makes up for it in style, quality and features.
One thing I really liked was the look of 19-inch alloy wheels, which I also tended to hate at times in terms of thier functionality. Each time I drove the car around town, I felt as though there was a pothole just waiting to ruin my day. I also found that with these big wheels, you are somewhat limited to exploit the AWD and centre diff-lock as it would be silly to venture out into areas that demand those features with hardly any rubber on the tyres.
That sad though, the Sportage is happy to skip around Sandton and definitely won’t look out of place there either. It carries a Sandton price tag as well, the GT-Line comes in just shy of R600 000, but before you gasp and turn the page, remember it comes fitted with many standard features likely to command a substantial on its German rivals. Is it worth considering? Absolutely.