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Kia Sportage GT Line diesel 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
9
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the Kia Sportage GT Line diesel SUV, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Tim Robson road tests and reviews the Kia Sportage GT Line diesel SUV, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Kia's star is on the rise, with a brace of new, sharply designed products and the backing of the industry's best new car warranty.

The Kia Sportage is at the vanguard of the brand's surge, with sales of the medium SUV up more than 40 per cent year-on-year. Is there substance behind the good looks and sharp warranty, though?

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Sportage is among the slickest medium-sized small SUVs out there at the moment, with concept car-esque 19-inch rims, body kit, blackened exterior and the unusually cool headlight arrangements giving it a significantly different presence to that of its corporate sibling, the Hyundai Tucson.

The brand is producing modern and stylish designs that manage to set themselves apart from a pack that can look very similar in many ways.

There's a deferential nod to the SUV category with thin black plastic overfender liners and covers, while the nose offers good clearance for cityscapes and parking blocks.

Kia has adopted the same front-end arrangement across most of its range, with the large, hourglass-style  grille a distinctive feature. Kia's design has really come into its own in this current generation of car. The brand is producing modern and stylish designs that manage to set themselves apart from a pack that can look very similar in many ways.

Interior-wise, the Sportage is quite dark throughout, thanks mainly to its GT Line status. Different shades of grey and black dominate with a lighter roof adding some brighter contrast.

Use of piano black is thankfully restrained and works well with the dimpled soft-touch plastic surfaces. There's also just a hint of brushed alloy around the air vents, which is a nice touch.

How practical is the space inside?

At least in this top-spec version, in terms of practicality the Sportage is amazingly perfect in a lot of ways. It has loads of features that will be used every day and manages to avoid the majority of fiddly extras that won't be used all that often.

The multimedia screen is small, but high quality, and can be controlled either by a touch or a clear, concise and easy-to-operate line of buttons on the centre console.

A pair of traditional analogue instruments flank a wide digital screen in the centre of the dash. Again, it's a real nod to simplicity and ease of use. The steering wheel controls are comprehensive but, again, are simple to understand and to activate.

Storage is plentiful and clever without going over the top. There are two cupholders line astern in the centre console, space for larger bottles in all four doors, as well as a pair of slightly undersized cup holders in the rear centre armrest.

There is a pair of ISOFIX baby seat mounts on the outboard rears but the centre rear sash belt is mounted in the ceiling, which means it needs to be disconnected if you want to make the most of the large cargo room. It's a bit annoying, and diminishes the car's practicality somewhat.

The 60/40 split rear seats can't be tumbled down from the rear of the cargo area, but they snap down quickly and firmly with the pull of a lever on the sides of the seats. One small annoyance is a lack of auto-up on the passenger side front glass, but it's a small glitch that's common across a lot of Kia and Hyundai products.

Despite the Sportage being a medium SUV in size, it fits four adults in absolute comfort with ease.

There are plenty of places to power up devices, with a pair of 12-volt sockets for rear-seat passengers, a pair for the front, as well as USB and auxiliary in-ports. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also on board.

A cargo net and tie-down hooks are included in the cargo area and there's a full-sized spare underneath the boot floor. There are also LED lights throughout the cabin.

Despite the Sportage being a medium SUV in size, it fits four adults in absolute comfort with ease. The driving position is slightly higher than expected, but it's still good.

The full-length glass roof doesn't affect headroom, which is terrific, but it also doesn't slide back; it only tilts up.

Controls for often-used switches like lane departure (turning off), lane blind spot, even the illumination controls for the dashboard, are well placed, and not buried in the multimedia system. A tick for the electronic handbrake, too.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

At $45,990 plus on-road costs, this Sportage diesel all-wheel drive tops the tree for Kia. It's very well-equipped with leather trimmed seats, 19-inch alloys, auto emergency braking, lane departure, automatic tailgate, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, LED lights and fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, vented and heated powered seats, and parking assist.

The AWD version of the Sportage gets a six speed automatic transmission, as well as a remote button to lock the centre diff, while a 'Drive Select' switch allows for Eco and Sport modes for gearbox and throttle.

What's it like to drive?

The Sportage is light on its feet, even with the addition of the heavier AWD/diesel drivetrain. It's also impressively quiet, despite the larger, wider, lower profile 19-inch tyres.

When asked, the little diesel will really pick up its skirts and kick along with alacrity.

There's a bit of diesel gruffness at start-up, but that quickly fades when the car is up to speed, especially when cruising at the national limit.

The steering is not too light and will vary with speed. It's also got a surprising amount of feel for such a small, high-riding vehicle. When asked, the little diesel will really pick up its skirts and kick along with alacrity, and the clever (in-house designed and manufactured) transmission matches it perfectly.

The six-speeder can also be controlled via paddles underneath the steering wheel spokes.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Kia's common rail direct injection 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is a willing performer with excellent manners. Maximum power of 136kW arrives at 4000rpm, while its 400Nm of torque is available from as low as 1750rpm.

Its six-speed auto is linked to a front-biased all-wheel-drive system that can send 40 per cent of torque to the rear wheels for extra traction.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The top spec car misses out on exactly none of the safety electronics available today, including blind spot detection, lane change assist, forward collision warning system, lane departure warning system and autonomous emergency braking, as well as a parking assist system and six airbags.

It enjoys a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

How much fuel does it consume?

Relative to a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 6.8 litres per 100km, we saw a best of 7.9L/100km over 350km.

The 62-litre diesel tank gives the Sportage a theoretical range of 795km.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Kia's seven-year/unlimited km warranty includes roadside assist for the duration as well as a free first service at three months.

Capped-price servicing covers the warranty period, with $419 the lowest and $726 the highest over four years. The seven-year total is $3695, for an average of $528, and it's worth noting the diesel service costs are 25 per cent higher than the 2.0 petrol.

Verdict

Perhaps it's time to come up with a new descriptor for Kia, because 'cheap and cheerful' doesn't cut it anymore.

It's enjoying record sales, thanks in part to an industry-leading seven-year warranty, but Kias are also selling because they look good, they're well-specced, and well priced.

The Sportage Platinum GT Line perhaps overeggs the pudding when it comes to the rest of the line, but it still doesn't feel like an overspend in terms of what you get for your money.

It may be the most expensive of the range, but it doesn't feel like you've blown your dough by buying something that has just a few more bells and whistles.

It's a well-resolved, well-packaged, thoroughly enjoyable SUV that really isn't that small. It can take a generous amount of luggage, accommodate four people in absolute comfort and five people easily. It's quiet, refined, it handles very well, steers beautifully and has great visibility. Well done, Kia.

Is Kia's Sportage on your compact SUV shopping list? Let us know in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$21,910
Based on 441 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,800
Highest Price
$41,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT-LINE (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $29,910 – 41,990 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 GT-LINE (AWD) Pricing and Specs
GT-LINE GREY LEATHER (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $35,990 – 36,999 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 GT-LINE GREY LEATHER (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Si (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $22,990 – 29,990 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 Si (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Si (AWD) AO EDITION 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $26,400 – 32,560 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 Si (AWD) AO EDITION Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
9
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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