In the deserts of Sudan & the gardens of Japan. From Milan to Yucatan, every woman, every man.
The fourth generation of KIA’s best selling UK model the Sportage has just been launched. The third generation Sportage has been a massive sales success in the UK, with 23,000 sold in 2015 alone, with the Sportage making up 26% of all UK KIA sales. It was also about a million times better than the Sportage that came before it. This time around, KIA have tweaked their best selling SUV both inside & out with improved engines, a higher quality interior, more technology & improved good looks. All in all the new model looks set to at least match the success of its predecessor in what is perhaps the UK’s most competitive sector where Nissans Qashqai is still the benchmark.
There are now four engines with five power outputs and three transmissions with the introduction of a 1.6-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) unit and a 7DCT (seven-speed dual-clutch automatic) gearbox, both of which are reserved exclusively for GT-Line. They join extensively re-engineered 1.6-litre GDi petrol and 1.7- and 2.0-litre turbodiesel power units with improved fuel economy and CO2 reductions of up to 29g/km, which means significantly lower company car tax for the Sportage’s loyal legions of business drivers.
Connectivity and advanced driver aids are a pre-requisite in any car these days, and the Sportage will not disappoint on either count. All versions except the entry-level grade have a 7- or 8-inch touch-screen satellite navigation system linked to Kia Connected Services with TomTom®, providing full European mapping and detailed traffic, speed camera, weather and local services information. Further up the range, Speed Limit Information, Lane Keep Assist, High Beam Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert are available.
There are 18 versions of the all-new Sportage, based on four engines and five trim lines – badged 1, 2, 3, 4 and GT-Line. At launch there is also a limited-run First Edition model with an exclusive specification which includes Smart Parking Assist (perpendicular and parallel parking), a smart powered tailgate, a wireless mobile phone charger, metallic paint and stone grey two-tone leather upholstery. All versions powered by the 1.6-litre GDi and 1.7-litre CRDi engines are front-wheel drive, while those powered by the 1.6-litre T-GDi unit and the two 2.0-litre CRDi diesels have all-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive versions are distinguished by the ‘KX’ prefix in the model designation – except for GT-Line and First Edition versions.
In keeping with every KIA, the Sportage comes with the company’s unique-in-the-UK seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, subject to certain wear and tear conditions. The warranty is fully transferable should the car be sold before the time or mileage limits have been reached, and if the car is sold when less than 18 months old or with less than 18,000 miles on the clock the warranty is topped up to match that of a new model (if sold as an Approved Used vehicle by a KIA dealer)
The Sportage is available with KIA’s Care-3 and Care-3 Plus servicing packages, offering retail customers fixed-cost, inflation-proof servicing for the first three or five years. All work is carried out by trained technicians using genuine KIA replacement parts and specified oils. All packages cover the car, not the owner, so are transferable should the vehicle be sold. If a vehicle with a Care-3 package is sold on then the next owner may upgrade to the five year service package.
The all-new Sportage debuts a number of new, advanced on-board technologies to improve the ownership experience for buyers. The new features added to the Sportage make it the most modern, innovative and high-tech car in its class.
Kia’s latest audio-visual navigation (AVN) system introduces a more modern appearance at the centre of the dashboard. Buyers can choose between 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment and satellite navigation systems, each supporting the addition of DAB digital radio, which is available across a number of European markets.
A new addition is the Navigation System with KIA’s Connected Services, offering a wide range of up-to-date driving-oriented information. Powered by technology company TomTom®, the new connectivity features include live traffic updates, speed camera locations and alerts, local search and weather forecasts. In Europe, the system will be available to Sportage buyers free of charge for seven years after the car’s purchase. The KIA Sportage is among the first models in the European compact SUV segment to adopt this advanced technology.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is paired with a 160 watt six-speaker audio system, while music lovers can specify a powerful 320 watt JBL® Sound system with the 8.0-inch touchscreen, featuring eight speakers, an external amplifier and Clari-FiTM music restoration technology for unrivalled audio quality.
A first for any car in the C-SUV segment, the new Sportage will be available with a new wireless charger for mobile devices, as KIA looks to meet the increasing demand for new convenience technologies from car buyers. Located at the base of the central instrument stack, the wireless charger enables users to charge their phone without a wire connection, for a cleaner appearance. With ‘foreign object detection’, the 5W charging system activates when a compatible device is placed on the pad, and warns car security-conscious owners when they’ve left a phone on the charger when they leave the vehicle. The system displays the phone’s charging condition on the instrument cluster, and features a safety system to prevent overheating while in use. The Sportage also features up to two USB charging points, one in the front and an optional one in the rear, to allow all occupants to charge their mobile devices while on the move.
Depending on market, other new available features will include: a rear-view parking camera with dynamic parking lines, a Smart Power Tailgate, which opens the tailgate automatically when the key is ‘sensed’ in close proximity to the tailgate; Dynamic Bending Headlamps, which sweep the road ahead in line with the steering wheel for greater visibility and improved safety at night; and a new Smart Welcome function, which turns on interior and door handle lamps and unfolds the door mirrors once the smart key fob is located within 1.3-1.7 metres of the door handle.
Although KIA have a choice of engine models in the range it is really the 1.7 diesel version which will appeal most to UK SME customers probably in KIA’s “2” spec & I was lucky enough to attend the European launch of the new model in January this year, where I put got to put this model to the test.
The first thing you notice about the new Sportage is it’s looks. The last model turned heads but this one is definitely prettier if perhaps a little less rugged looking. Gone is the elongated rear end & prominent hatchback to be replaced with an altogether softer looking & to my mind more attractive rear end.
With a new ‘Tiger’ front grille, higher more prominent headlights & sharper defined LED front fog lights the new Sportage is a altogether a smoother, softer looking proposition than it’s predecessor & is certainly not as angular as stablemate the Hyundai Tucson. Looking at it from the side & from the rear it does bear some resemblance to the Qashqai, but the new KIA front grille & lights make make the Sportage a far prettier car than the Nissan.
SME customers will want to now how frugal the new model is. Well the 1.7 CRDi offers CO2 emissions of 119g/km with a combined fuel economy of 61.4 mpg, so will tick plenty of user chooser boxes next time they come to change their company vehicle.
Inside the Sportage, KIA have gone to great lengths to build an attractive high quality cabin, Touch it & it feels expensive. It’s also more user friendly, with clearer, more logical dials & the switchgear is reassuringly clunky. Passengers won’t complain either as the five seats are covered in quality fabric or leather & are extremely comfortable.
As a practical proposition, Sportage is bigger than the outgoing model. It’s about the same height & width as it’s predecessor, but is 40mm longer increasing the wheelbase which gives all 5 passengers more leg room. The boot too is 15 litres larger than before with a minimum capacity of 491 litres & with rear seats folded, a maximum of 1492 litres. There’s a split fold rear seat combo & the three rear seats can be adjusted fore & aft by up to 30 degrees.
The cabin is also quieter than before. KIA have gone to great lengths to insulate the cabin from both road & wind noise, with more body insulation & have even added foil to the front windscreen to achieve this.
What’s it like to drive ? Well the 1.7 diesel manual will make up the bulk of UK sales & the tried & tested engine unit from KIA is still very much on the money. With it’s six speed gear box & well weighted steering, the Sportage performs well on the motorway & is also enjoyable to drive around town even in stop/start traffic. It’s definitely quieter than it’s predecessor & the excellent JBL sound system allows driver & passengers to listen to their favourite tunes in relative peace & quiet.
Many SME drivers may already be driving a Sportage & there’s no doubt that the outgoing model was both a really good car & extremely popular. KIA have, like Nissan before them with Qashqai, had the unenviable task of trying to improve a model that was pretty damn good already. Have they succeeded ? I think they have. With better fuel economy, driving the new model will save you money. It’s also better equipped, both from a safety perspective & it’s more up to date with it’s on board technology than it’s predecessor. Furthermore, it’s quieter, more comfortable & roomier inside than the Mk3, so the Koreans who have worked hard to improve upon the previous Sportage have, with their team of European designers & technical staff, done a fantastic job in making the latest KIA even better than before.
A Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick 4/5