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Kia Sportage 2020 review: S petrol long term

Kia's mid-sizer comes in a very attractive, value-packed entry-level S spec

The Kia Sportage is one of the brand's most famous nameplates, battling hard in the hotly-contested mid-size SUV segment. Peter Anderson is spending three months with one to see if it's the bargain it appears to be.

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✅ Part 1: February 2020

The arrival of our long-term Kia Sportage slipped in between the two apocalyptic events of 2020 - the bushfire crisis and COVID-19. It was a welcome relief, and brought with it the promise of honest, value-for-money motoring.

Our Sportage was the entry-level S and is an exemplar of the notion that we don't really have 'base model' cars anymore, and we kind of have Kia to thank for that.

Standard equipment includes, 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, cloth interior, reversing camera, forward AEB and collision warning, rear parking sensors, remote central locking, auto headlights with auto high beam, lane keep assist, leather wheel and shifter, powered, heated and folding mirrors, auto wipers and a full-size alloy spare wheel.

Even though the screen might be small, you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make up for the lack of sat nav.

Just that last item is an oddity, let alone dual-zone climate control in a roomy, five-seat mid-size SUV.

The Sportage was a welcome relief from the nightmares of 2020. The Sportage was a welcome relief from the nightmares of 2020.

The S is one of those finely-judged things, where you just know the team at Kia spent a lot of effort picking the right bits and pieces because it doesn't feel cheap. Even the dash doesn't have any blanks, something most buyers at this level would have expected not so long ago.

The interior might be a touch on the gloomy side, but the seats are comfortable and the cloth trim is actually quite nice.

The Kia went straight to work. As the smoke had largely cleared and country NSW endured an uneasy heatwave before a downpour right at the end of the legendary Bathurst 12 Hour, I pointed the Sportage west and took the long way to Bathurst, shadowing a gaggle of Lotuses hither and thither, down the 'back way' into Jenolan Caves, up through Oberon and on to Mount Panorama.

Like its sibling brand, Hyundai, the local arm has its own committed team of suspension engineers and I could certainly tell. The backup road in to Jenolan is like a mini Rally Monte Carlo stage.

While, obviously, the folks in the Lotuses were having more fun, the Kia rode a lot better and was actually up for the challenge.

The interior might be a touch on the gloomy side, but the seats are comfortable. The interior might be a touch on the gloomy side, but the seats are comfortable.

You couldn't say that about Sportages past.

What you could say about them, and still say about this one, is it's no fireball. The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine spins up 114kW and 192Nm to shift 1.5-tonnes.

A proper six-speed automatic transmission feeds the power to the front wheels only. It's not quick and needed a fair bit of encouragement when going uphill. In the cruise, however, it was quiet and very thrifty.

Passengers climbed in and out of the Kia over the two day trip and were pleasantly surprised that for just $30,190 you get all of this and decent ride and handling to go with it.

The Kia cheerfully swallowed three overnight bags, a number of helmets and their various-sized owners. The rest of the month it acted as family transport and nailed that down very nicely.

 

Acquired: February 2020

Distance travelled this month: 684km

Odometer: 950km

Average fuel consumption for February: 7.91L/100 (measured at the pump)

✅ Part 2: March 2020

Gee, it rained a bit in Sydney in late February and early March, the drought breaking in typically flamboyant fashion.

A friend's Hyundai Getz was parked at church when a giant tree fell and wiped it out and a few others besides. Given the net was closing around working at the office, the Kia and I were pressed into chauffeur duties.

I can't quite work out how their family fit in the Getz, because they're all hugely tall.

Again, the Kia delivered quite handsomely. While the engine wasn't very happy when the whole family of Mum, Dad and two six-foot plus teenagers were aboard with me, the rest of the car was perfectly happy. The steering remained light but responsive.

The Sportage S tyres revealed themselves to be quite good in the wet. The Sportage S tyres revealed themselves to be quite good in the wet.

Mother of the family wasn't super-keen on the middle seat between the teenagers and Dad is, like, nine feet tall, so one of the rear seat passengers wasn't exactly stoked with the room available. But, it worked well for the fortnight or so we spent as car buddies.

Thankfully, none of us caught the nasty virus from each other but the climate control kept us all cool as we shuttled about, which was very pleasing indeed. 

One thing I have noticed over the last few years is some manufacturers tend to skimp on the tyres at this level (Mazda, I'm looking at you).

While the Sportage S tyres aren't exactly the last word in grip, they revealed themselves to be quite good in the wet. Most entry level cars have tyres that force you to drive like you're on ice, so this was another thing to add to a rapidly increasing list of positives.

As for the negative column, not much to report. Number one son complained about the front passenger seat being uncomfortable and giving him a numb bum. He's well north of six feet tall and grumbled that the seat was a bit soft.

The steering remained light but responsive. The steering remained light but responsive.

I quietly reminded him the reason he was in the car with me was because he had written off his car and now I had to drive him around. To be fair, that had nothing to do with the softness of the seat, but it made me feel better about driving him clear across the city to look at a possible replacement.

Fuel use, predictably, rose during March as the Sportage spent more time in the suburbs, tipping the 9.0L/100km barrier (the combined cycle figure is 7.9L/100km, so it's not light years away).

 

Acquired: February 2020

Distance travelled this month: 440km

Odometer: 1390km

Average fuel consumption for February: 7.91L/100 (measured at the pump)


The Wrap

Likes

It’s a bargain
Handsome
Good spec

Dislikes

Touchscreen is a bit small
Interior colour scheme a bit drab
Not very sprightly

Scores

Peter:

The Kids:

$35,590

Based on new car retail price

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