|Kia Sportage SLi Petrol Auto 2016 Review | Road Test|
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews one of the most fashion conscious members of the Kia SUV family.
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews one of the most fashion conscious members of the Kia SUV family. The five seat Sportage manages to combine distinctive design with simple functionality, impressive dynamics and excellent ride comfort. The mid-spec SLi delivers good value for money, too, in a super-competitive part of the market.
You have to feel for Kia. Long before Hyundai discovered funky design, Kia pinched Peter Schreyer from Audi and transformed the brand from producing cheap-looking, dumpy hatchbacks to stylish, even funky machinery that to this day produce double-takes from passers-by when they clock the badge.
Kias, however, remain more individualistic than the Hyundais, none more so than the Sportage. With its Porsche influences up front and bold yet simple rear it stands out among the SUV crowd, yet accounts for 'just' 7.5 per cent of sales, trailing CX-5, Tucson, RAV4, Forester, Outlander, X-Trail... you get the picture.
It's also got two newcomers and to deal with, too, in the form of Renault's Koleos and VW's Tiguan.
The Sportage comes in three flavours, Si, SLi and Platinum. An Si front drive 2.0 petrol kicks off the range at $28,990 while the Platinum auto AWD ends it at a slightly optimistic $45,990.
Our car was the SLi 2.0 petrol, asking $33,990. In exchange for that, you'll get 18-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo with 7.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, sat nav, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control, electric driver's seat, auto headlights and wipers, hill holder, partial leather interior, powered and heated folding door mirrors, power windows, full-size spare (a rarity), privacy glass and LED taillights.
The only option is premium paint, adding $520. Out of five colours, four are premium.
All up, our SLi was $34,510.
Front and rear passengers are well looked-after, with good head and leg room all round and an excellent view out courtesy of big windows and glass that extends to behind rear passenger's heads.
The Sportage has various storage receptacles scattered around the cabin, including four bottle holders, four cupholders, sunglass holder (aviators only, thanks), a central console storage box and somewhere to put your phone at the base of the centre stack.
The boot opens its account at a competitive-but-not-outstanding 466 litres and with both sections of the 60/40 split seat down, will accommodate up to 1455 litres.
The Sportage is a muscular looking thing, with a very strong front end that is more than a little reminiscent of the Porsche Macan with a bit of Cayenne thrown in. It looks much sportier than its close relative, the Hyundai Tucson, with which it shares many bits.
It isn't handsome like the Tucson but has a lot more presence.
The exterior has lots of interesting details - the shape of the leading edge of the roof where it meets the glass; the 3D effect grille attributed to design guru Schreyer; the rippling bonnet and the funky housings for the projector headlights. It looks Euro but with a typically Kia twist. It isn't handsome like the Tucson but has a lot more presence, particularly with a strong shoulder line and finely-judged flared wheelarches.
The rear is a bold, stark challenge to following traffic, with LED taillights and a sporty attitude.
Inside is rather less adventurous, tame in fact. The execution is good, fit and finish very accomplished, even for this new improved Kia of the last few years. It looks modern but for the slightly dowdy steering wheel. Everything is where it should be and there's nothing startlingly clever, nor is there anything at all bad. A lovely job.
Kia's 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated four cylinder delivers 114kW and 192Nm, that latter figure being more modest than the first. The front wheels are driven through a six-speed automatic.
The 2.0 will tow 1600kg braked (100kg more than the 2.4 and 300 fewer than the diesel) and 750kg unbraked.
Kia tells us the 1606kg Sportage's official combined figure is 7.9L/100km, however we were unable to dip beneath 10.2L/100km in mostly flowing suburban traffic.
The first thing you notice about the Sportage is that it is very quiet inside. The 2.0 is a distant purr, rising to a dull buzz only at higher revs. The six-speed automatic is very refined, shifting smoothly and crisply.
The second thing is the ride - it's quite plush and suspension noise is, like the engine, distant and well-suppressed. There's an impressive softness on the initial compression when you hit, say, a speed bump, and it progresses nicely by damping the movement and keeping everything under control. This translates to an excellent around town ride, soaking up the bumps with ease. As speeds rise, that does deteriorate, however and the harder you push the Kia the less comfortable it becomes. Best to keep things straight and sensible.
Your passengers should find the Sportage experience quite pleasant - there's not much body roll and the cabin's quiet means conversations are easy and low volume.
The Sportage was awarded five ANCAP stars, the maximum available, and features six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, brake assist and hill descent control.
Annoyingly, if you want auto emergency braking, lane departure, forward collision warning or blind spot detection – you have to shell out for the Platinum. You can't even option these at lower spec, a similar sin to sister company Hyundai.
Kia offers a quite staggering seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty and backs it up with capped price servicing. Kia expects to see you once a year or every 15,000km and will charge you between $306 and $711 per service. The majority of services are under $400 with a seven year average of $420 and a total of $2942.
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