I have always been fascinated by how my mother can turn one of my culinary disasters into something half decent. After dousing the flames and adding a bit of this or that, the end result is always relatively tasty.
In the same way, Peter Schreyer has taken the ‘Cup-of-Soup’ Kia of old, and turned it into ‘Sinseollo’- a traditional Royal Korean dish.
To be perfectly honest, after driving the Sorento, which completely blew me away, I was really itching to get behind the wheel of the new Sportage. How it didn’t disappoint.
The Sportage shares the same signature grille as the Sorento with the headlights being incorporated into the slatted, accentuated chrome grille. The daytime running LEDs add extra Grrr! – Kia describes the front as a ‘tiger face’. A high waistline and ‘narrowish’ windows further the ‘feline’ effect, and oh my, isn’t it just so damn good looking.
Something interesting to note, I thought, and I’m sure you did too, that the narrow windows and the chunk-of-metal C-pillars would make the Sportage incredibly difficult to see out of when reversing. Not true though. The C-pillars don’t obstruct your view in the slightest, plus there is a rear view camera which displays its image ‘on’ the rear view mirror when you engage reverse (I found the picture quality much better than in the Sorento – if it’s of any consolation), as well as reverse sensors. A bit of design witchcraft – I don’t want to know how it works; I just love the fact that it does.
Inside you are greeted by an aesthetically pleasing interior, brilliantly comfortable and supportive leather seats and an array of buttons. The dash is elegantly rounded, housing a 6CD shuttle/MP3 compatible radio. On a slightly indented panel below the radio will you will find all the controls for the climate control, which I found incredibly easy to use and very effective. Below that are Auxiliary, and USB inputs for the radio. Another awesome little feature that needs to be noted is the Smart Key and engine stop/start button which always adds a little thrill to everyday life.
Under the bonnet lies a 2.0 litre diesel motor, and one that has left me slightly speechless. It produces 130 kW and 392 Nm. But more than the figures, it’s the way the engine delivers the power that shocks.
Normally a diesel motor will run out of steam somewhere between 1000 – 500 RPM before the red line. The little Kia has grunt right up to the rev-limiter. The 392 Nm of Torque is spread pretty evenly through the rev range, which means power for overtaking and so on is always at hand when you need it. But if you are in a serious hurry, the auto box is quick to drop a gear or two, to get you into the motor’s sweet spot.
Speaking of the automatic gearbox, it is a good gearbox and is relatively responsive when in ‘manual’ mode – where you change gears by pushing the gear lever up or down, but works best when left in ‘Drive’.
Driving the Sportage is quite a treat. Having 18 inch wheels, my biggest fear was that the Kia might ‘crash’ a bit over uneven road surfaces, but it doesn’t. On the contrary, it absorbs and smoothes out most abnormalities in the road. And the level of grip supplied by the AWD system is superb, but a bit of body roll and the high driving position don’t leave much room for confidence if you’re in the mood to really throw it around.
The brakes are good and are equipped with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. There is also plenty of feedback from the steering. And one of the greatest things I noted is how quiet it is on the road; there is very little, if not no road or wind noise whatsoever. Very tranquil.
Keeping up with safety aspects the Kia has a six airbag system including dual front, side and full length curtain airbags and comes with child anchors at the back.
The new Kia Sportage is a brilliant, refined, comfortable and agile vehicle which offers fantastic value for money. What more needs to be said?
Price: R 324,995 (base model)
Engine: 1995cc four cylinder turbo-charged diesel
Power: 130 kW
Torque: 382 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.6
Top speed (km/h): 195
Fuel consumption (l/100km): 7.5 (claimed)
Photo Credit: Quickpic
P.S. Due to the set up of the fuel injectors, you may only fill your Sportage with 50ppm (low sulphur) diesel. Failing to do so will void your warranty.
All Sportage’s come with a 5 year/100 000km warranty and service plan.