The Tucson’s sales success can without doubt be attributed to the Hyundai’s derivative offerings being more comprehensive than that of the Kia.
Increasing its range from a meagre five models to twelve in the third quarter of 2017, the current Sportage range certainly signals Kia’s intent on capturing more market share. I recently spent a week with one of the new additions, the 1.7-litre CRDI Ignite Plus model.
It’s always great to receive a more basic press car to evaluate; it gives a better impression of what the car that the majority of people will buy is actually like.
In this case, the Sportage that arrived was certainly less sporty looking than previous testers both inside and out. Still, I found the exterior design to be either a hit or a miss with a quick anecdotal survey of people at my local shopping centre.
Personally, I think that it fits in well with the brand’s current design ethos, but simultaneously, can sympathise with those who think it’s less attractive than its predecessor.
In terms of the interior design, the lack of a large, colour-screen infotainment system seen on higher spec models does detract somewhat from what is a simple and ergonomically pleasing design. The overall quality and general feel of the materials and build quality is reassuring and spot-on for a vehicle in this segment.
As for practicality, well that’s a big plus on the Sportage. The rear occupant’s head and leg room is excellent while the boot provides a respectable 466-litres of space. In fact, the Sportage seemingly exceeds its claimed dimensions inside with an impressively capacious loading bay with the second row of seats folded.
We’re in a market where the adoption of automatic transmissions has been rather rapid of late; therefore it was a bit bizarre but admittedly refreshing to receive a model equipped with the ever-elusive third pedal.
The model in question is only available with a six speed manual gearbox, which may limit its appeal, but in my opinion, this is the Sportage to have.
The 1.7-litre CRDI turbodiesel motor is a thoroughly modern piece of kit, with 85kW/280Nm; it isn’t a tower of power, but it exhibits far less lag than many other oil-burners out there and features very impressive fuel returns. Over my week with the vehicle, I achieved a fuel consumption figure of 6.4-litres/100km(4.9-litres/100km claim), most of which was done in an urban environment.
Being an Ignite Plus specification model, the 1.7 CRDI isn’t the most highly specified Sportage, but with a list price of just over R400 000, this model does present good value.
Key features include a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth/USB and AUX compatibility, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric windows front and rear, cloth seats and rear park distance control. Key omissions at this price point are the aforementioned infotainment system as well as cruise control.
On the safety front, this model comes standard with six airbags, stability and traction control, ABS, ISOFIX mounting points, fog lamps, Hill Descent Control and automatic headlamps.
The Sportage has certainly benefitted from what appears to be borderline obsessive attention from Kia engineers to the improvement and indeed refinement of the Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels within its product range. The Sportage is a very smooth and refined car on-the-go, with very little cabin intrusion and wind noise.
The Sportage is undoubtedly a good product for the local market. With the brand having now expanded the range to match many of the offerings provided by key competitors, it really does make shopping in this segment quite a challenge. One thing’s for sure though; the Sportage should definitely be on your list if you’re after an SUV in the sub-R600 000 category.