The new-gen Kia Sportage is larger, and better, too.
In the hotly-contested mid-size SUV segment more than a dozen contenders are constantly adding extra value, performance and safety in attempt to climb the sales ladder. Could Kia's new Sportage be set for top spot?
You know how Daniel Radcliffe used to just be that awkward kid from Harry Potter and now he’s a ruggedly handsome, but quirky bloke that could easily play James Bond? Well, that’s what’s happened to the Kia Sportage.
This mid-sized SUV has gone from the bug-eyed little unit of 2016 to this bigger wilder-looking new generation model.
After reading this review of the new Sportage range, you’ll know more than the car dealer. You’ll know how much it costs, which Sportage is the best value, all about its safety tech, how practical it is, what it costs to service and what it’s like to drive.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 8/10
The entry-point into the Sportage range is the S grade with the 2.0-litre engine and manual gearbox and it lists for $32,445. If you want an auto it’ll be $34,445. The S with this engine is front-wheel drive only.
The 2.0-litre engine also comes in the SX grade and that’s $35,000 for the manual and $37,000 for the auto. The 2.0-litre in SX+ guise is $41,000 and it’s auto only.
Coming standard on the entry-grade S is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Also auto only are the grades with the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and diesel engine, they're all-wheel drive-only, too.
There’s the SX+ with the 1.6-litre for $43,500 and the GT-Line for $49,370.
Then the diesel comes in: S for $39,845, SX $42,400, SX+ for $46,900, and GT-Line for $52,370.
Coming standard on the entry-grade S are 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital instrument cluster, a six-speaker stereo, reverse camera and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, fabric seats, air conditioning, LED headlights and those LED running lights.
A wireless phone charger comes on the GT-Line.
The SX adds 18-inch alloys, a 12.3-inch display, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto (but you’ll need a cord), sat nav and dual-zone climate control.
The SX+ gets 19-inch alloys, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, heated front seats with a powered driver’s seat, privacy glass and a proximity key.
The GT-Line has dual, curved 12.3-inch screens, leather seats (powered front ones) and a panoramic sunroof.
The sweet spot in the range is the SX+ with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s the best value with the best engine.
The GT Line has an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 10/10
The new-generation Sportage is an angular, aggressive-looking thing of beauty… to my eyes anyway.
I love that it appears to be designed without caring if people are going to like the look of it or not and it’s this brave confidence in its uniqueness that I think will win people over and prevent it from dating too quickly.
The new-generation Sportage is an angular, aggressive-looking thing of beauty.
It seems that we live in an age where our cars all wear extravagant masks and the Sportage’s is the most intriguing of the lot with its arrow-like LED running lights and big, low mesh grille.
It feels almost extra-terrestrial. And so does the tailgate with those superbly detailed tail-lights and tailgate lip spoiler.
The Sportage is intriguing with its arrow-like LED running lights and big, low mesh grille.
Inside, the angular look is carried through the cabin and seen in the door handle and air vent design.
The Sportage’s cabin is stylish, modern and feels well crafted even in the entry grade S. But it’s the GT-Line where the curved enormous screens come in and leather upholstery.
Yes, the lower grades aren’t as fancy as the GT-Line. They don’t have all the textured surfaces, and the S and SX have many blank panels where the higher grades sprout actual buttons.
It’s a shame Kia seemed to focus all its energy into the top-of-the-range car’s interior design.
At 4660mm end-to-end the new Sportage is 175mm longer than the previous model.
Still, I can’t believe this is a Kia. Well, I can actually. I’ve witnessed the standard in design, engineering and tech climb higher and higher over the past 10 years to a point where the quality feels almost indistinguishable from Audi and far more creative in design.
At 4660mm end-to-end the new Sportage is 175mm longer than the previous model but it’s about the same width at 1865mm wide and height at 1665mm tall (1680mm with the bigger roof rails).
The old Sportage was smaller than the latest Toyota RAV4. The new one is bigger.
The Kia Sportage comes in eight colours: 'Clear White', 'Steel Grey', 'Gravity Grey', 'Vesta Blue', 'Dawning Red', 'Fusion Black', 'Snow White Pearl' and 'Jungle Wood Green.'
How practical is the space inside? 9/10
A bigger Sportage means more room inside. A lot more. The boot is 16.5 per cent larger than the previous model at 543 litres. That’s a litre more than the RAV4’s cargo capacity.
A bigger Sportage means more room inside.
Room in the second row has also increased by eight per cent. For somebody like me who’s 191cm that’s the difference between being cramped in the back and sitting comfortably with plenty of knee room behind their driving position.
Cabin storage is excellent with big door pockets in the front, four cupholders (two in the front and two in the rear) and a deep centre console storage bin.
Room in the second row has also increased by eight per cent.
There are two USB ports in the dash (a type A and a type C), plus another two in the second row for the higher grades. A wireless phone charger comes on the GT-Line.
All grades have directional air vents for the second row and privacy glass for those back windows is on the SX+ and up.
Sportages with the manual gearbox have less centre console storage space than their automatic siblings which have an expansive adaptable area around the shifter for loose items.
The boot is 16.5 per cent larger than the previous model at 543 litres.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 8/10
There are three engines in the Sportage line-up. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol making 115kW/192Nm, which was also in the previous model.
A 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine producing 137kW/416Nm and again, this was in the old Sportage.
But a new 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine has been added (replacing the previous 2.4-litre petrol) with an output of 132kW/265Nm.
A six-speed manual or auto can be had with the 2.0-litre petrol engine, a regular eight-speed automatic comes on the diesel and a seven-speed dual-clutch (DCT) automatic is the 1.6-litre engine’s transmission.
A new 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine has been added with an output of 132kW/265Nm.
If you plan on towing the diesel is the way to go with a 1900kg braked towing capacity. The petrol engines with the auto and DCT have a 1650kg braked towing capacity.
The 2.0-litre petrol Sportage is front-wheel drive, while those with the diesel or 1.6-litre are all-wheel drive.
What’s missing is the hybrid version of the Sportage which is sold overseas. As I’ve said in the fuel section below, if Kia doesn’t bring one into Australia, I think it’ll become a deal-breaker for those tossing up between a RAV4 Hybrid and a petrol-only Kia Sportage.
Not only does the dual-clutch automatic feel smoother in the Kia than the Tucson and acceleration with any engine in the Sportage feels better than what the RAV4 can deliver, but the ride and handling is on another level, too.
I find the Tucson too floaty, the RAV a bit wooden and the Outlander lacking composure and hard on most roads.
The Sportage has had an Australian engineering team design the suspension system for our roads.
On the wide range of roads I tested the Sportage on it was not just comfortable but a better handler as well.
Pretty simple answer for this. The Sportage is the only one of these SUVs which has had an Australian engineering team design the suspension system for our roads.
This was done by driving them and trying different combinations of shock absorbers and springs until the ‘tune’ was right.
This type of care is what sets Kia apart from not just most car manufacturers but even its sister company Hyundai, which has done away with local suspension tuning and the ride has suffered as a result.
To be fair the steering isn’t what I’d have expected from Kia. It’s a tad too light and lack feels but that happens to be the one area the local engineering team weren’t able to have a great deal of input over due to restrictions from COVID-19.
For something which looks like a cheese grater from the outside, visibility from the inside is excellent. And from the inside there’s hardly wind noise, either.
The GT-Line with the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine.
I drove the diesel Sportage which felt like it had the most shove (well it has the most torque and power). I also piloted the 2.0-litre petrol with the manual gearbox and that was fun on country roads, although it’s hard work in city traffic.
But the best was the GT-Line with the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine which doesn’t just accelerate hard and fast for the class, but the shifts are smooth from the dual clutch auto, more so than the DCT in the Tucson.
How much fuel does it consume? 7/10
This would be one of the Sportage’s very few weak points.
Kia says after a combination of open and urban roads the 2.0-litre petrol engine with the manual should use 7.7L/100km while the auto will use 8.1L/100km.
The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine is more efficient using 7.2L/100km, while the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine will need just 6.3L/100km.
Kia sells a hybrid version of the Sportage overseas, and it will need to bring it to Australia. This area of fuel use and power systems will, as I’ve said, soon become a deal breaker for many Aussies.
Warranty & Safety Rating
7 years / unlimited km
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 9/10
The Sportage is yet to be given an ANCAP safety rating, and we will report on this when it’s announced.
All grades have AEB which can detect cyclists and pedestrians even at traffic junctions, there’s lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert with braking, and blind spot warning as well.
All Sportages have a driver and front passenger airbag, driver and passenger side airbags, two curtain airbags and new to the model is a front centre airbag.
For child seats there are three top tether mounts and two ISOFIX points in the second row.
All Sportages also come with a full-sized spare wheel under the boot floor. No silly space saver here. Do you know how rare that is these days? That’s outstanding.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 8/10
The Sportage is covered a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Servicing is recommended at 12 month/15,000km intervals and the cost is capped. For the 2.0-litre petrol engine the total cost over seven years is $3479 ($497 per year), for the 1.6-litre petrol it’s $3988 ($570 per year) and for the diesel it’s $3624 ($518 per year).
So, while the warranty is longer than is offered by most car brands, the Sportage's service pricing is generally dearer than the rivals.
The old Sportage was popular but it was too small and lacked refinement and cabin-tech which the latest version of the RAV4 and Tucson had. This new generation leapfrogs those cars in all ways, from design, craftsmanship and tech to ride and handling.
The only area where the Sportage is lacking is not having a hybrid variant, which can be bought overseas, but not here.
The sweet spot in the range is the SX+ with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s the best value with the best engine.
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