Kia has built a creditable sports utility vehicle lineage on the foundations of the Sportage for almost thirty years and there’s no sign of it waning. The fourth generation of the mid-size SUV has been tweaked.
These days one of the South Korean auto makers most popular lines, the MY20 Sportage comes to market in Australia as S, SX, SX+ and GT-Line variants powered by four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines mated with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions (petrol), eight-speed auto (diesel) and front or all-wheel drive.
Prices start at $28,190, plus on road costs for the Sportage 2.0 S petrol 2WD and top out at $47,690 for the 2.0 GT-Line diesel auto AWD. As luck had it, the latter was the test vehicle.
Knee deep in features, the GT-Line boasts autonomous emergency braking with forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, high-beam assist, rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines, rear parking sensors, plus blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
There’s an eight-way powered front passenger seat, auto-levelling LED headlights with LED foglights, an automated park-assist system, adaptive cruise control, and an 8-inch touchscreen with connection to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
A sports pack adds heated and ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof, flat-bottom sports steering wheel with shift paddles, powered tailgate, 19-inch alloy wheels, wireless phone charging, and bold side sills, bumper inserts and grille.
The Snow White Pearl body paint of the test vehicle set the scene for the premium look beyond the sub 50k SUV segment. Most noticeable up front include the light clusters, the GT-LIne incorporating LED running lights.
On top of this are sharper lines for a sportier, more aggressive look, while a more angular surround enhances the sporty design of the signature Tiger Nose grille and complements the updated front bumper.
The Sportage, at close to four-and-a-half metres in length, with its distinctive rear spoiler, takes on a highly-recognisable profile, while newly designed 18-inch wheels set the GT-Line apart.
The interior blends metalwork and top-quality soft-touch materials with the use of cloth, leather and stitching creating a luxurious ambience.
Leather-appointed seats have contrast stitching. The 10-way driver’s power adjustable seat includes two-way lumbar support and there’s an eight-way power front passenger seat. Front centre-console armrest is backed by rear centre armrest.
The lateral design of the dashboard divides it into two clear zones – ‘display’ and ‘control’ – with the ‘display’ zone focusing on delivering information to occupants in the clearest way possible via the driver’s instrument binnacle and the infotainment and human-machine interface system in the centre.
With many functions now found on the touchscreen infotainment and navigation system, the uncluttered dashboard offers the ‘control’ zone to be clearly visible when on the move.
Cargo space remains at 466 litres, increasing to 798 litres with rear seat backs folded. Load height for heavy items is a comfortable 742 mm.
Heart of the infotainment system is an 8-inch touch screen with access to satellite navigation with ten years traffic information, DAB digital radio, eight-speaker JBL premium sound system and 10-year Mapcare and SUNA Traffic monitoring.
The Sportage also features two USB charging points, one in the front and another in the rear, to allow all occupants to charge their mobile devices while on the move. One USB and two 12-volt connections are up front.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Sportage GT-Line is powered by a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated with a six-speed Sports-matic automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Maximum power of 135 kW comes up at 6000 rpm and peak torque of 237 Nm at 4000 revs.
A Drive Mode Select system offers three versions – Normal, Sport and Eco.
Passive safety includes driver and front passenger airbags, front side airbags, curtain airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, side door impact beams (front and rear), child-proof rear door locks, impact sensing auto door unlocking.
And there’s a laundry list of active safety measures, foremost being autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, intelligent parking assist, as well as ABS anti-lock braking with emergency braking and brake assist.
Spare a thought for non-Aussie buyers of the Sportage, for they don’t have the advantage of the wisdom of Kia’s Down Under engineers to produce a suspension to suit local conditions.
As usual our guys have come up with a winning ride and handling package for the Sportage GT-Line, that does well to smooth over deficiencies in local road surfaces in town and country.
Less satisfying is the performance of the car’s powertrain, with the 2.4-litre petrol power plant and automatic transmission generally lethargic, and noisy at high revs. Good news is it runs on 91RON juice.
Kia puts the combined urban / highway fuel consumption at 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Our test car on motorway runs achieved 8 litres per 100 kilometres. In town it struggled to get below 10 litres per 100.
The sports-style steering wheel presented a comfortable grip, but the shift paddles refused to serve up that satisfying sporty driving experience expected with such performance kit.
Cabin space and ambience were above average for a mid-size SUV, the latter being reinforced by the two-tone grey décor.
Storage was good all round, except in the boot where the full-size spare under the floor stole space and reduced it to 466 litres. Still, this ‘real wheel’ would be more than welcome in an unscheduled tyre tragedy out in the sticks. Access is via a powered tailgate.
Ventilated / heated front seats dish up a fresh breeze without undue noise, or far-from blast furnace heating.
Of the active safety features, lane-keeping assist was not over assertive on straightening up the wandering vehicle, unlike some that are in danger of yanking the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands.
In most cases the Sportage GT-Line is a classy car, especially in looks and on-road comfort, but lacks get-up-and-go. The price is on the steep side too for a mid-size wagon but is arguably justifiable with seven years of warranty to back it up.
AT A GLANCE
Kia Sportage 2.0 S petrol 2WD $28,190
Kia Sportage 2.0 SX petrol 2WD $30,290
Kia Sportage 2.0 SX+ petrol 2WD (a) $37,490
Kia Sportage 2.4 GT-Line petrol (a) AWD $44,790
Kia Sportage 2.0 S diesel (a) AWD $35,590
Kia Sportage 2.0 SX diesel (a) AWD $37,690
Kia Sportage 2.0 SX+ diesel (a) AWD $42,890
Kia Sportage 2.0 GT-Line diesel (a) AWD $47,690
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Sportage GT-Line 2.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol, 6sp Sports-matic auto, AWD, 5dr SUV)
Capacity: 2.359 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 135 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 237 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.5 L/100km
DRIVELINE: Six-speed Sports-matic automatic, AWD
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4485 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1855 mm
Height: 1655 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Tare weight: 1642 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 62 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Seven years / unlimited kilometres