Sportage reveals KIA’s shift up

'We are getting a KIA Sportage to test in a week or so', I heard someone in the office say. 

I remember my frame of mind as I digested that — I imagined a very good, basic family SUV that will do the job very well. Thought the same when it was delivered, but when I went out to greet the delivery man my mindset altered a touch (yip, they deliver cars to us like they do pizzas — 'sign here… thank you very much… cheers'. But then they fetch it next week). 

See, this Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX AWD 8-Auto is not just spec-packed and full of all the good things of driving in the 21st century, but they've strung it together in such a manner that it possesses a sort of BMW feel. And I like that. Sportage still gets a tiger’s nose (yip, that’s what Kia calls its grilles) to highlight a quite intriguing Star Wars sort of a style.

The door swings open to reveal a thoroughly impressive cabin — Sportage has always been good, but this nip and tuck takes it to another level — it's good to touch and feel too. Gets the kitchen sink too — everything from crisp 8-inch colour Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto touchscreen infotainment with satellite navigation run by a new multifunction leather steering wheel and Voice Recognition. All cool but take care not to get stuck in the air vent if you poke it by mistake when trying to finger that screen while driving!

Add wireless smartphone charging and a rear passenger USB port and you are packed to travel fully connected. EX spec also gets auto wipers, auto-folding power wing mirrors, front fog lamps and sporty 19-inch wheels, plus a panoramic sunroof, front parking sensors, an electric parking brake, and all the safety kit, hill descent, auto hold and the rest.

Fire it up and the 2-litre turbodiesel rumbles gently to life. On the road, it delivers a creamy repertoire doubled up by KIA’s smart all-new eight-speed automatic for the kind of drive you also expect from a premium German SUV. Sportage gets on well enough — no fireworks at ten seconds to 100km/h in our tests, but it has a solid and friendly feel about it and it is a pleasure to drive. 

This EX AWD 8-speed is also impressively frugal, handles pretty well and once again, is comfortable enough to believe that you're driving something far more premium. So next time someone mentions Kia Sportage, I think my frame of mind will be a little more upmarket — and I’ll look forward to spending a week with one even more — Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED:       KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX AWD 8-Auto 
Engine:                    131kW 400Nm 1998cc turbodiesel I4                 
Drive:                       8-speed automatic AWD
0-60km/h:               4.55 sec
0-100km/h:             10.19 sec                      
0-160km/h:             26.00 sec       
400m:                      17.1 sec @ 132km/h            
80-120km/h:           7.19 sec
120-160km/h:         11.87 sec          
VMax:                       201km/h                               
Fuel:                         6.3 l/100km                         
CO2:                         164 g/km
Warranty/Service   5y Unl./5y 90Kkm 
LIST PRICE:              R549K           
RATED:                     83%