On a recent work trip to Jozi, this Capetonian had the pick of a few test cars for the four-day marathon of meetings and film shoots. The Kia Sportage enticed me immediately with its SUV stance and capacious living quarters.
That it came with a frugal oil burner in the 2.0l CRDI couldn't be ignored either. So, how did we get on?
Let’s begin with its looks
When it was revealed, I mused that its larger sibling, the new KIA Sorento loosely resembled a Jaguar F-Pace with some detail and proportion rushed along in order to get it to market first.
Well, for those same reasons, when this shape of Sportage was first unveiled I couldn't wonder if its styling team had a Porsche Macan on its mood board. Without overselling this, let's just say it's an attractive Sports Utility Vehicle that with each facelift gains an improved aesthetic.
Rendered in this Blue Flame hue with multi-spoke 19-inch rolling stock in each corner and endowing the Sportage with an athletic poise – you've got quite the head turner underneath you. Ours is the range topper EX Plus which comes with a 2WD drivetrain, the might of its two-litre engine being stirred by an eight-speed automatic transmission.
More about its might? It churns forth 131kW and 400Nm, good for a zero to hundred sprint of 9.3 seconds and a top speed of 201kph. But more on that later. First, we must drop a cheek or two into its leathery cabin.
Location, location, location!
Premium? ✅ Comfy? ✅ All the tech? ✅
It's a good cocoon this, but dark – I’m not sure how you feel about a sombre living space, but KIA had also fitted ours with the optional panoramic sunroof. Look it isn’t sparse, you get automatic air-con, six airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and a wealth of other connectivity and pairing options including screen sharing systems such as Apple Carplay and Android.
There’s cruise control here, chrome-coloured electric mirrors and electric seats, then there’s all that cowhide from the pews to the helm to the gear knob and surrounds. Dominating the dashboard is an 8-inch touchscreen multimedia display for all that aforementioned smartphone stuff, for which there is also even a wireless charging surface. Shall we Push to Start? Because we can thanks to the Sportage’s ‘Smart Entry’ keyless system.
There's no going back from Wireless phone charging
And how does she go?
Perfectly for my requirements of bustling Jozi traffic, long stints of highway between Pretoria and Sandton and the CBD, barely dirtying the Hankook rubber apart from the driveways of the occasional rustic food stop.
Being 2WD I wasn’t in the mood for gravel travel, although, I’m sure it could lap up many a farm road on its road centric suspension comprising MacPherson struts up front and a comfy multi-link rear axle. 131kW and 400Nm is plenty in a tall hatchback and its 9.3 seconds to 100kph is a good indication of the torquey diesel shunt that lives under your right foot for when you absolutely positively need to make that gap in traffic.
In short, the Sportage never leaves you yearning for more, has sufficient grunt to match its bark and its large boot was more than up to the task of swallowing all my luggage and camera gear.
This is why it’s hot
At R573,000 the KIA Sportage represents a pretty great ownership prospect. Sure, you’re spoiled for choice in the compact SUV segment – there’s even threat from a newer smaller niche beneath it with the likes of the VW T-Cross and Hyundai Venue. The latter car already has a KIA sibling that fits beneath the Sportage called the Seltos, but then as I already mentioned, it isn’t as big.
Personally, while attractive, none of those cars would have been up to the task for my trip – which still leaves us with excellent rivals both inhouse (Hyundai Tucson) and out, with great cars such as the Nissan Qashqai (and X-Trail), Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. That’s just a few without even trying from a segment absolutely brimming with contenders.
Luckily for the Sportage we now live in a world where the KIA badge is desirable, so it’s no wonder that many will flock to the South Korean firm. And rightly so, especially with the marque’s 5 year/90 000km service plan and unlimited-kilometre warranty over the same time period. We get it. And if you’re not a KIA fan, so should you.
Kia Sportage 2.0 EX Plus 2WD Auto CRDI Specs:
|Engine ||2l, inline 4-cyl, turbodiesel|
|Gearbox ||8-speed auto|
|Driven Wheels ||Front|
|0-100kph ||9.3 seconds|
|Top Speed ||201kph|
|Average Fuel Consumption ||6.3l/100km|
|CO2 Emissions ||161g/km|