The Kia Sportage has been around for about three decades now.
Their ever-increasing numbers on the road attests the compact SUV is a much-preferred family hauler. Kia does not seem to stop improving on their success.
With almost a year since the fourth-generation Sportage landed on our shores, the Korean manufacturer has added seven derivatives to the range, now totalling 12.
Customers can now choose from a wide range of engines and trims – something competitors had been offering.
To put into perspective, there used to be a massive gap between the entry level Sportage Ignite priced at R369 995 and the 2.0 CRDI EX at R487 995.
Competitors such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 sales volume lived in the R360 000 – R420 000 price band and the Sportage had only one model to compete with their offerings.
“So, Kia had to respond to its customers’ demands. “Starting at a very competitive R369 995, we launched the all-new Sportage last year with a compact, five-model range spanning four specification grades. “But, being a brand known for its ‘power to surprise’, our product planning did not stop there,” says David Sieff, Marketing Director, KIA Motors South Africa. “We now expand the model range with seven additional derivatives, not only giving our customers more choice but, more importantly, also creating more value.”
To begin with, the entry-level Sportage Ignite with a 2.0 litre engine is now offered with a choice of a six-speed auto.
There are no substantial changes in terms of how the added variants look. All Ignite models feature LED daytime running lights, automatic headlight control, and rear park distance control.
You can also opt for the new Sportage Ignite PLUS which features an impressive 2.0 litre petrol engine with 114kW and 192Nm, paired either with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
This one gets a range of exterior boosts such as fog lights and 17- inch wheels.
Joining the range is also the new Ignite PLUS derivative which features a 1.7-litre (85kW and 280Nm) CRDI engine.
It does not end there – the EX trim has been expanded, giving you a choice of a 2.0 litre petrol engine. Apart from all the features of the Ignite variant, there is a host of useful features. There are two new EX PLUS derivatives which fall between the EX and range-topping SX allwheel drive derivatives.
Here you can choose between the 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine.
Though the Sportage is based on the Hyundai Tucson, it has been engineered for driving in and around town.
I drove the new 1.7 CRDI Ignite Plus which is the only manual diesel transmission in the range and the 2.0 EX PLUS with an automatic gearbox at the launch.
The 1.7 CRDI Ignite Plus offers impressive power outputs and adequate overtaking speeds. The engine is smooth and slick and reacts smartly to throttle inputs, though it can get hoarse and noisy under hard acceleration.
In the end it does handle the job well and ticks the boxes as a car you would drive on a daily basis. I was a bit disappointed with the EX PLUS.
The 2.0 litre operates smoothly and it does give you the power to manoeuvre through traffic, but there is not much extra power for passing manoeuvres. However, if you are a fan of petrol engines and looking for a run around SUV, then the 2.0 EX PLUS could be the right one for you.
I remain a fan of the 1.7 CRDI and rate it as one of the best-best engines you’ll find in this highly-contested segment. In total, the Sportage is a predictable, stable and simple car to drive.
It comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, inclusive of a five-year/unlimited kilometres roadside assistance, as standard, plus a five-year/ 90 000km Service Plan.