Our old friend the Kia Sportage needs little introduction.
It’s one of the best-selling SUVs in the country and we’ve owned a couple over the years,
including the first one.
Now in its fifth generation the current model was released in 2021 and is a much larger
vehicle than its predecessors.
With seating for five, it’s 17.5cm longer and has an 85mm longer wheelbase than the
previous model, and that translates to a more interior space, together with more rear
Long story short, you get more car for your money literally – but it costs more too.
Sportage with its boomerang-shaped LEDs and elaborate alloy wheels is not easily
mistaken for any other SUV on the road.
But with just 181mm of ground clearance, it’s clearly not designed to go off road, not in the
true sense of the term — but few so-called SUVs are these days.
It’s all about versatility and ease of entry and exit.
There are three grades: S, SX, SX+ and GT-Line, ranging in price from $32,795 to
$52,720 plus on-roads.
Kicking off the range is the 2.0-litre petrol S with a six-speed manual transmission and
There’s a choice of three engines: 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol, 1.6-litre turbocharged
petrol and 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel, each with different transmissions, along with front-
or all-wheel drive.
Our test vehicle was the value for money SX+ with a 1.6-litre turbo and seven-speed twin
clutch style DCT auto.
Each grade gets a different size and style of wheel.
All are machined finish alloys, 17-inch in the S, 18-inch in the SX and 19-inch for the SX+
and GT-Line (but they look different).
All get a full-size alloy spare.
Standard kit includes cloth trim and air conditioning with rear air vents, along with a leather
trimmed wheel and shift knob.
Add to this 17-inch wheels, LED front, tail and daytime lights, dusk-sensing headlights with
auto high beam, rear parking sensors, plus an 8.0-inch touchscreen with AM/FM radio,
wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and six-speaker audio.
Pop for the $2500 optional auto and you also score adaptive cruise control.
The smart money is on the SX+ which gets most of the gear from GT-Line, but saves you
dough — more than $6000 in fact.
SX+ adds quilted artificial leather and two-zone climate air, along with built-in navigation,
rear privacy glass, heated front seats and a power-adjust driver seat, as well as a power-
operated tailgate and eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio.
So, what does the SX+ miss out on?
The major things are shift by wire with a rotary control in place of transmission lever,
ventilated front seats, driver seat memory, power-adjust front passenger seat, full LED
lights, ambient interior lighting, wireless phone charging and a panoramic sunroof.
Sportage is covered by a 7-year warranty, with 7-year roadside assist and 7-year capped
price servicing. Service is required every 12 months or 15,000km.
Sportage comes with three different-sized screens: 8.0-inch in the S, 12.3-inch in the SX
and SX+, plus a 12.3-inch “curved” display combined with 12.3-inch digital instrument
cluster in the GT-Line.
All but GT-Line get a basic 4.2-inch driver information panel, located in the centre of the
SX, SX+ and GT-Line all get satellite navigation with 10-year updates as well as the
capacity to personalise preferences such as radio favourites and phone priorities.
All grades get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is wireless in S — but oddly wired in
the three higher-grades.
There’s a USB-A and USB-C port in the front, plus two USB-C ports in the rear, along with
12-volt outlets in the front and luggage area.
Wireless smartphone charging is available only with GT-Line.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
S, SX and SX+ are available with the 2.0-litre petrol engine that carries over from the
previous model, and produces 115kW of power at 6200 rpm and 192Nm of torque at 4500
S and SX come standard with a six-speed manual, while all three can be optioned with a
six-speed automatic and are front-wheel drive only.
SX+ and GT-Line are available with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces
132kW and 265Nm, but is available only with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic – and
both are all-wheel drive.
All four grades can be had with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that generates an impressive
137kW and 416Nm, and is mated to a conventional eight-speed auto – and all are all-
Sportage scores a maximum five stars for safety, with seven airbags, including a centre
bag, plus rear-view camera and autonomous emergency braking (Car-to-Car, Vulnerable
Road User and Junction Assist).
Also, standard is a lane support system with lane keep assist (LKA), lane departure
warning (LDW) and emergency lane keeping (ELK), and an advanced speed assistance
There’s also blind spot collision avoidance assist (BCA) with rear cross traffic collision
avoidance (RCCA), multi-collision braking (MCB), driver attention alert (DAA) and safe exit
The SX+ is quiet, practical and comfortable, but cheap plastics and an unimaginative
instrument cluster feel a little low rent.
Handy physical controls together and a second selection panel sit below the main screen,
in a design that is quite impressive.
We particularly like the way you can switch between different functions at the touch of an
Looking at the figures, the diesel outguns both petrol engines in all of the crucial areas —
power, torque and fuel consumption.
That’s not to say either petrol engine is disappointing, it’s just that you’re going to have to
pay at least a minimum $3000 for the privilege of upgrading to the diesel.
In the case of SX+, the premium is $3400 and that’s a sobering thought.
The turbocharged petrol unit is the compromise and, with maximum torque available from
a low 1500 all the way through to 4500 revs — it offers plenty of get up and go.
But this performance at the cost of the twin clutch auto and the idiosyncrasies that they all
seem to share — hesitancy, indecisiveness and generally jerky gear changes.
It’s a love-hate relationship, but we’ve noticed of late that some manufacturers seem to
have moved away from them, at least with some of their models — maybe because of bad
Car companies like the design because they produce lower fuel consumption and less
harmful engine emissions.
Apart from an initial meltdown when you plant your right foot, they rip through the gears in
rapid succession, both accelerating and decelerating.
The feeling is exhilarating, but anything in between is problematic — particularly speeding
up and slowing down repeatedly in traffic where they become somewhat confused.
Then there’s our driveway.
It’s short and steep and our car is usually parked at the top.
Slowing down so as not to hit it, the transmission drops down a gear in anticipation and
the car surges forward as a result, necessitating hurried braking before we rear end our
Taking your foot off the brake to nudge a little closer sees the car roll back.
Herein lies the problem.
There’s Normal, Eco, Sport and Smart drive modes, plus the continued ability to lock drive
equally between the front and rear wheels.
But the only way to really take control of the pesky DCT is to put it in manual mode and
change gears yourself using the steering wheel-mounted change paddles.
Give us the eight-speed auto anytime.
Steering, braking, ride and handling, meanwhile, are all testament to Kia’s comprehensive
local tuning program.
But, having said that, we were surprised when the car almost self-destructed on its first
Rated at 7.2L/100km, we were getting 8.4L after close to 600km.
The diesel in comparison gets 6.3L/100km.
Nice to see the turbo is tuned to take standard unleaded. It wasn’t always the case.
Every time Kia brings out a new model, we weigh up the pros and cons of updating our
Platinum third generation Sportage, a car that still looks fabulous to this day.
The only thing we really miss is a power tailgate and adaptive cruise control, certainly not
sufficient reason to part with our money yet.
Too bad it’s now out of warranty.
AT A GLANCE
S 2.0-litre 2WD petrol: $32,795 (six-speed manual), $37,245 (six-speed automatic)
S 2.0-litre 2WD turbo-diesel: $40,195 (eight-speed automatic)
SX 2.0-litre 2WD petrol: $35,350 (six-speed manual), $39,245 (six-speed automatic)SX
2.0-litre AWD turbo-diesel: $42,750 (eight-speed automatic)
SX+ 2.0-litre 2WD petrol: $41,850 (six-speed automatic)
SX+ 1.6-litre AWD turbo-petrol: $43,850 (seven-speed DCT automatic)
SX+ 2.0-litre AWD turbo-diesel: $47,250 (eight-speed automatic)
GT-Line 1.6-litre AWD turbo-petrol: $49,720 (seven-speed DCT automatic)
GT-Line AWD 2.0-litre turbo-diesel: $52,720 (eight-speed automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Sportage SX+ 1.6-litre turbocharged all-wheel drive petrol five-
Capacity: 1.6 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line, turbocharged
Maximum Power: 132 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 265 Nm @ 1500-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.2 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 164 g/km
DRIVELINE: Seven-speed twin clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4660 mm
Wheelbase: 2755 mm
Width: 1865 mm
Height: 1680 mm
Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1643 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 54 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Seven years / unlimited kilometres