$26,990 – $40,990
Good: Sharp looks; spacious cabin; high levels of standard features; impressive 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine; great value for money.
Not so Good: Poor rear vision; 2.0-litre petrol suffers under a full load; dynamics are below the class leader.
Design and Engineering
Good : Arriving Down Under in August 2010, the current generation Kia Sportage sits on a new global platform shared with the Hyundai ix35. It has a great stance which is less than surprising after reading the following changes in dimensions over the previous model – it’s longer, a little wider and a significant 60mm lower. Also important for good looks is a wide stance and this one has front and rear tracks that are over 70mm wider than before.
The sleek headlights, the rising waistline, small side glass profile and the backwards sloping C-pillar creates an almost coupe like profile. It may well be our favourite compact SUV in terms of styling on the market today!
Not so good : Whilst it’s by no means offensive, we think the rear styling doesn’t look as cool as the rest of the vehicle. Also the rising waistline and small rear windscreen doesn’t help with rear visibility from the driver’s seat.
Interior and Styling
Good : The smart styling continues inside. The instrument cluster is a funky three-pod arrangement, the steering wheel is a chunky four-spoke design and the centre console design is different to most.
Most people will be comfortable behind the wheel thanks to the big, nicely sprung driver’s seat with height adjustment and up front there is plenty of storage cubbies and space to stretch the legs out.
Rear seat legroom is also good; actually the entire cabin is roomy as the large boot holds a healthy 740 litres and grows to over 1,500 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Not so good : The steering wheel adjusts for rake (up and down) but not reach (in and out) and the front seats wouldn’t miss a little more side bolstering. Much of the dash surfaces are of the hard and shiny plastic variety but considering the high levels of standard features and the competitive pricing, this is unlikely to deter many customers. The fixed rear bench seat lacks individual sliding or removable rear seats (but only a few players offer this) and rear vision is poor thanks to the narrow shaped rear window.
Good : Three 4-cylinder engines on offer, two petrol and one turbo diesel. The 2.0-litre petrol (the only engine without all-wheel-drive) generates 122kW of power and 197Nm of torque, the 2.4-litre petrol manages 130kW power and 227Nm torque while the 2.0-litre diesel produces 135kW and a whooping 392Nm of torque. All engines are teamed up to a smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission, with the entry level 2.0-litre petrol also offered with a five-speed manual gearbox.
Whilst the 2.4-litre petrol offers brisk enough acceleration, if you can afford the extra outlay the 2.0-litre turbo diesel is definitely the pick of the range. The performance on offer is very good (performing strongly across the rev range), it feels significantly smoother than the two petrol engines, displays minimal turbo lag and is also the most frugal.
Not so good : The 2.0-litre petrol engine must be worked hard with five aboard and becomes noisy as the revs start to rise. The diesel also suffers a little from noise under heavy load, but is fine when cruising in sixth gear on the highway.
Ride and Handling
Good : This generation Kia Sportage has underwent significant Australian suspension tuning before going on sale here. Aussie road surfaces are unique and as a result the Sportage has the best yet balance between ride and handling for Kia (note: as at vehicle launch – Aug 2010).
The handling is predictable and stable and we have no significant issues with the ride – even on the bigger 18-inch alloy wheels. Over a twisty background the Sportage won’t turn into a wobbling mess, it’s much, much better than the previous model. The steering is nice and light for the intended target market but importantly at higher speeds the feedback remains relatively consistent with what’s going on underneath the surface.
Not so good : Much better than the previous Sportage, but still missing that final touch to scare the very best handling compact SUV’s (but to be truthful, only a tiny percentage of buyers would probably value better driving dynamics than the already healthy levels on offer). As a result the name ‘Sportage’ is probably still a bit misleading.
Buying and Owning
Good : Ticks the safety box with standard anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, traction control, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, downhill brake control and six airbags.
The quality of finish is impressive and all grades have excellent levels of standard equipment. The entry level Sportage gets air-conditioning, a six-speaker CD/MP3/USB audio system with steering-wheel mounted controls, cruise control and remote central locking with an alarm.
The SLi adds to the interior features with a leather finished steering-wheel and gear shifter, a rear-view camera with a display in the rear-view mirror, auto-on headlights, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, a trip computer and an electric driver’s seat.
The top-dog Platinum grade adds leather seats, an upgraded audio, auto-on wipers, a cooled glove box, heated front seats, keyless entry and an engine start/stop button, a panoramic sunroof as well as other goodies.
Not so good : The top of the range Platinum grade with the turbo-diesel engine is good value, however the asking price is heading north – as a result we don’t expect this grade to have the best resale value.