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Kia Sportage 2014 teview

Price cuts make the new Kia Sportage Series II even better value.
EXPERT RATING
8
Kia Sportage has been something of a late bloomer for the South Korean importer. The smaller of Kia's two SUVs, it was one of the first models to go on sale here when the company arrived here in 1996, and the only one to have been here continuously since then. Sales were hampered by Sportage's rather bland styling

Kia Sportage has been something of a late bloomer for the South Korean importer. The smaller of Kia’s two SUVs, it was one of the first models to go on sale here when the company arrived here in 1996, and the only one to have been here continuously since then.

Sales were hampered by Sportage’s rather bland styling until the arrival of the third-generation model in 2010 when Kia’s renowned design chief, Peter Schreyer, transformed it into a much more stylish vehicle, one that is gradually clawing its way up the sales ladder in this most competitive of segments.

PRICES / MODELS

As is the norm nowadays Kia Sportage comes with the choice of two or four wheel drive and petrol or diesel power. There are three equipment levels, Si, SLi and Platinum with prices ranging from $25,490 to $39,990. If you prefer to do your own gear changing then you’re restricted to the entry level Si petrol with six-speed manual. All others come with six-speed automatic transmission.

FEATURES

Standard safety features across the Sportage range include front, side and curtain airbags; Electronic Stability Control; Hill Start Assist; Downhill Brake Control; ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist; and Emergency Stop Signal.

There’s also a rear spoiler; Included in the upper echelons are LED daytime running lights, ‘welcome home’ light delay, automatic light control, keyless entry, engine start/stop button, and a reversing camera that projects an image onto the left-hand third of the interior mirror, enabling the driver to get a real-world rear view without glancing away from the mirror.

Other standard features in the entry-level Si are relatively sparse but include a rear spoiler; cruise control; auxiliary and USB sockets; Bluetooth phone and audio streaming; and speed dependent audio volume control. In addition to all-wheel drive the SLi models add reverse parking sensors; rear-view camera; LED daytime running lights; roof rails; cooling glovebox; and dual-zone climate control air conditioning.

Sportage Platinum adds satellite navigation; 7-inch LCD touch screen; push button start; leather trim seats; panoramic sunroof; enhanced audio and front and rear seat warmers.

DESIGN / STYLING

The 2010 redesign created a Sportage that was longer, wider and lower than the previous model but did so without compromising either headroom or the high driving position that appeals to SUV buyers.

From our previous test of the Platinum model with its panoramic glass roof that extra feature can cause problems for tall occupants. Our only other criticism is the small rear windscreen that limits rearward visibility. When reversing the problem is reduced in the SLi and Platinum variants which come with a rearview camera that projects either into the left-hand side of the rear-view mirror in the SLi or onto the in-dash screen in the Platinum, or the SLi with the Navigation package.

External vision to the front and sides is excellent courtesy of a wide windscreen and large side mirrors. Cargo space is right up with the best in the class ranging from 564 litres with the rear seatbacks upright to 1353 litres with them folded. There’s a full size spare wheel under the cargo area floor which makes for a relatively high loading height.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS

Both petrol and diesel engines have a 2.0-litre capacity with the previous 2.4-litre petrol being discontinued. Maximum power is 122 kW from the petrol with the diesel generating up to 135 kW while torque peaks at 197 Nm and 392 Nm respectively.

The six-speed automatic transmission changes smoothly although the ‘Sport’ manual mode is a bit of a misnomer moving softly and slowly between cogs rather than in a hard and fast sporty manner. There are no paddle shifters so manual overrides can only be made via the gear lever.

DRIVING

Our test car was the Kia Sportage SLi with the 2.0-litre diesel engine. Standing outside the vehicle the characteristic diesel rattle is there although once underway it’s barely noticeable. The engine belongs to Kia’s new ‘R’ family of diesels that uses a common-rail system with piezo-electric injectors at high pressure for accurate fuel delivery.

With torque of just under 400 Nm it’s likely to be the preferred choice of most buyers although many will be put off by the $3000 to $3500 surcharge over its petrol equivalent.

Combined cycle fuel consumption from the diesel Sportage is listed at 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres in rural and motorway conditions and 9.1 L/100 km in and around the city. During our test we found ourselves using around the mid-nines.

Australian engineers were involved in optimising Kia Sportage’s ride and handling characteristics for our local conditions, including outback and rough suburban surfaces.

The ride on normal sealed roads is a little on the firm side, which is acceptable for the driver who likes handling and grip which is pretty good for the compact SUV class. On the other hand, those ho prefer comfort may not like it. As always, try before you buy.

We took our Kia Sportage over our favourite local dirt tracks shortly after a wet spell and were always felt confident of the grip on the slippery surface provided by the Kia Dynamax all-wheel drive system.

VERDICT

Kia Sportage has always been a sensible and affordable small-medium SUV that had been let down by its uninspiring looks. European design work added style to its substance and now, with production also coming from the Continent, where some excellent negotiating by Kia Australia has led to price cuts of up to $1500, there are plenty of reasons to add Sportage to your SUV shopping list.

Kia Sportage SLi 4WD 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon
Price: from $35,490
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km
Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder turbo diesel, 135kW/392Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, AWD 
Thirst: 7.2L/100km, CO2 189g/km

Pricing guides

$17,595
Based on 135 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$11,990
Highest Price
$23,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Platinum (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $12,995 – 23,999 2014 Kia Sportage 2014 Platinum (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Si (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $14,888 – 14,990 2014 Kia Sportage 2014 Si (FWD) Pricing and Specs
Si Premium (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $13,800 – 19,990 2014 Kia Sportage 2014 Si Premium (FWD) Pricing and Specs
SLi (AWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $13,500 – 22,990 2014 Kia Sportage 2014 SLi (AWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8