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Kia Sportage Si petrol 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new Kia Sportage Si petrol SUV, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new Kia Sportage Si petrol SUV, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Despite its relatively modest size, Kia is a brand on the march. It's small enough to be nimble and brave – its seven-year warranty is a supersized hit – but access to the Hyundai engineering pool gives it real presence on the shopping lists of everyday Aussies.

The Kia Sportage is at the pointy end of the brand's success, with sales of the medium SUV up more than 40 per cent year-on-year. We test the base model Si to see if it's something more than just an entry-point into the brand.

Price and spec

At $28,990 plus on-road costs, this Sportage petrol front-wheel drive now kicks off the range after the demise of the price-leading manual in 2016.

The Sportage is among the sharpest medium-sized small SUVs out there at the moment.

It comes standard with good quality cloth seats, 17-inch alloys, reversing sensors and camera (with moving guidelines), fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, a 7.0-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and streaming, three 12-volt plugs and a USB port.

Design

The Sportage is among the sharpest medium-sized small SUVs out there at the moment, and the base model doesn't let the side down. It does miss out on the distinctive quad LED driving lamps of the higher grades, but the single halogen spotties still look okay.

There's a deferential nod to the dirt with black plastic overfenders and covers, while the nose offers good clearance for driveways and parking blocks.

Kia has adopted the same front end arrangement across most of its range, with the hourglass-style grille proudly prominent. Kia's design language has taken a major step forward in this current generation of cars, managing to look modern and stylish at the same time, and setting it apart from a pack that can look all too similar.

Even in this entry-level version this little SUV is spot-on in terms of everyday practicality.

Interior-wise, it's quite restrained throughout. Different shades of grey and black dominate with a lighter roof adding some ambience to the interior.

There's also just a hint of brushed alloy finish around the air vents and transmission tunnel, which is a nice touch.

Practicality

Even in this entry-level version this little SUV is spot-on in terms of everyday practicality. It offers heaps of useful features and manages to avoid the majority of questionable extras that won't be used all that often.

The 7.0-inch multimedia screen is small but high quality, and can be controlled either by a touch or via a clear, concise and easy-to-operate line of buttons on the centre console – though the deep-set screen means it's a bit of a stretch at times to reach it.

A pair of traditional analogue dials flank a small 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, especially for a base model car, but again they are simple to understand and to activate.

Storage spaces are plentiful and clever in the Sportage, too. Two cupholders are line astern in the centre console, there's space for larger sport bottles in all four doors, as well as a pair of slightly undersized cup holders for the centre rear armrest.

There is a pair of ISOFIX child seat mounts on the rear outboard pews, 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 space. It's a pain, to be honest, and diminishes from the car's otherwise good practicality.

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

The 60/40 split rear seats can't be tumbled via switches in the rear of the cargo area, but they do flop down quickly and firmly with the pull of a lever on the sides of the seats. There's 466 litres of space with the seats up – more than the Mazda CX-5 – and 1455 in the down position.

One small annoyance is a lack of auto-up on the passenger side front window, but it's common across a lot of Kia and Hyundai cars. Offsetting that is the inclusion of rear vents for back seat passengers.

There are plenty of places to charges phones and tablets, with a pair of 12-volt sockets for rear seat passengers and a pair for the front, as well as USB and auxiliary in-ports. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is now standard in the Si, and cars bought before December 2016 can have it retrofitted by dealers with a simple software upgrade.

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 and ease, though the middle rear seat can be a tight fit. The driving position is slightly higher than we expected, but it's still more than adequate, despite a reasonably firm cushion.

The base Sportage does miss out on a few items that are on the higher grade cars, though, like an electronic handbrake.

Driving

The Sportage is built for a life around town, and the lighter front-drive petrol powered Si is absolutely up for the job.

Its looks (inside and out) are towards the top of a tough class.

The 2.0-litre engine is getting a bit old hat, but it's still a very smooth and tractable unit when coasting around on light throttle. It gets thrashy and noisy when asked to hustle up hills, though, with the six-speeder occasionally confused by which ratio to pick and hold.

The steering is well weighted, and has a surprising amount of feel for such a small, high-riding vehicle. The ride and handling have been doctored for local conditions, and while it occasionally strays into the realm of being too firm on more broken tarmac, the taller profile tyres on 17-inch rims give back some compliance just when it's needed.

Engine and transmission

Kia's 2.0-litre MPI petrol is starting to show its age, with more modern direct-injection units in the wider stable that would be a great fit under the bonnet. It pumps out 114kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm.

Its six-speed auto is linked to a front-wheel-drive system.

Safety

The base spec car unfortunately misses out on almost all of the safety electronics available today, including blind spot detection, lane change assist, forward collision warning system, lane departure warning system and auto emergency braking – though all of this kit is available in the top spec Sportage Platinum GT Line.

It enjoys a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, though, and has six airbags, rear sensors and a rear camera.

Fuel economy

From a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 7.9 litres per 100km, we a best number (on the dash) of 9.1L/100km over 350km.

The 62-litre petrol tank gives the Sportage a theoretical range of 784km.

Ownership

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

Capped-price servicing covers the seven-year warranty period, and Kia suggests a service once a year or every 15,000km.

It costs between $306 and $711 per service. The majority of services are under $400, with the seven-year average equalling $420 for a total of $2942.

Verdict

Kia's entry level Sportage Si crushes its opposition on price, and its looks (inside and out) are towards the top of a tough class.

It does miss out on a bit of gear - like auto headlights and wipers, as well as safety electronics – that you might expect to see, though.

Overall, it's a well-packaged, thoroughly enjoyable SUV that really isn't that small. It can take a generous amount of gear, as well as four people in absolute comfort and five people easily. It's quiet, it's refined for the most part, it handles very well, it steers beautifully, and it looks pretty good, too.

Are you a base model buyer or a top spec hunter? Does the entry level Sportage Si have enough spec for you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$22,990
Based on 467 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$16,888
Highest Price
$40,777

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT-LINE (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $29,490 – 40,777 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 GT-LINE (AWD) Pricing and Specs
GT-LINE GREY LEATHER (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $31,350 – 37,730 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 GT-LINE GREY LEATHER (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Si (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $25,990 – 29,990 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 Si (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Si (AWD) AO EDITION 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $27,720 – 33,440 2017 KIA SPORTAGE 2017 Si (AWD) AO EDITION Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$14,491

Lowest price, based on 200 car listings in the last 6 months

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