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Kia Sportage Si Premium petrol 2018 review


1 Nov 2018 • 12 min read

Safety is often one of the key considerations when choosing a family chariot. Seat belts may have been a fancy accessory when you were a kid, but only the best will do now that you have your own little people ensconced in the back seat.

The news that Kia has improved its standard safety offerings across the Sportage range, then, is likely to pique interest. So we put the Si Premium petrol to the family test.

How spacious is it?

Well, while the Sportage may be at the smaller end of the mid-sized SUV spectrum, you would be hard pressed guessing that from the real-world space on offer. There is room aplenty for the driver and front passenger to stretch out, with nicely formed seats adding to that feeling of comfort. There won’t be any complaints from the kids in the back row either, with the raised height allowing them to see out with ease and the sensible belt line making for easy entry and exit.

  • The Sportage may be at the smaller end of the mid-sized SUV spectrum, but there's room aplenty for the driver and front passenger. The Sportage may be at the smaller end of the mid-sized SUV spectrum, but there's room aplenty for the driver and front passenger.
  • There won’t be any complaints from the kids in the back row either. There won’t be any complaints from the kids in the back row either.
  • The boot has 466 litres (VDA) of capacity with the second-row seats up; 1445 litres with them down. The boot has 466 litres (VDA) of capacity with the second-row seats up; 1445 litres with them down.
  • The Sportage will happily take the weekly shop and a couple of scooters at the same time. The Sportage will happily take the weekly shop and a couple of scooters at the same time.

The seatbelt for the middle passenger is mounted to the roof of the cargo hold and has to be disconnected if you are carrying more than half a boot-full of stuff, which in our household – with an array of school and sports bags and various musical instruments – is practically all the time. There are two ISOFIX anchor points on the outer rear seats should you need them, and while the seat doesn’t slide forward and aft as in some competitor cars, the seat itself is not ramrod straight which makes it more comfortable for the littlies.

At 466 litres (VDA) the boot is rather accommodating, and will happily take the weekly shop and a couple of scooters at the same time. That space grows to 1445 litres (VDA) with the second row folded flat, allowing you to carry home bulkier items or surreptitiously drop off all those unused toys at the charity shop when the little people are otherwise occupied.

Under the floor of the boot you will find a full-sized spare, a nice rarity given the pervasive run-flat-tyre movement.

What does it look like?

This new Sportage really doesn’t look too dissimilar to the one it replaces, and for good reason. Aside from a few tweaks to the headlight stack and foglight surrounds and a tidy up of the rear, Kia has left well enough alone.

There have been murmurings of making the vehicle a touch more masculine, but we don’t mind its agreeable nature. The Sportage seems modern and on-trend, smooth rather than sleek, with enough chrome highlights to keep it interesting.

  • There's enough chrome highlights to keep it interesting. There's enough chrome highlights to keep it interesting.
  • The Sportage seems modern and on-trend, smooth rather than sleek. The Sportage seems modern and on-trend, smooth rather than sleek.

The same can be said for the interior of the Si Premium, where design supports functionality and the choice of materials and the fit and finish is commendable. This is a comfortable car to sit in, on long journeys and short, with the driver benefitting from logically laid out controls and clear, no-fuss instruments. There is no electronic park brake for this model grade, which is a shame considering the space-saving factor.

The black-and-grey palette can make the Sportage feel a touch dark, but it is good at hiding the dirt and the materials themselves are rather durable.

How does it drive?

Our Si Premium FWD was powered by Kia’s 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox. This is a gutsy little unit that is pretty efficient in getting the Sportage around, reserving its best work, of course, for the confines of the suburbs and the city.

While it will happily ferry around the family, it does sometimes show its age - especially up hills, where a little bit of gentle urging is required. The Sportage is confident when merging or overtaking provided you signal your intent ahead of time, and won’t leave you wondering at the traffic lights either.

Our Si Premium FWD was powered by Kia’s 114kW/192Nm, 2.0-litre petrol engine. Our Si Premium FWD was powered by Kia’s 114kW/192Nm, 2.0-litre petrol engine.

It is nimble around town, negotiating traffic circles and car parks with ease, the improvements to the steering gear ratio evident in its performance. All-round visibility is good, the side mirrors are well positioned and the slightly sloping bonnet allows you to park easily.

The Sportage is easy to drive and drive in, with improvements made to the suspension delivering a more cushioned ride for all passengers. It doesn’t wallow if you hit a bump and you will barely feel the surface irregularities, even navigating endless road works.

How easy is it to use every day?

The Sportage does well with the rigours of everyday family life, its spacious interior and robust nature providing both enjoyable accommodation and willing intent. It will fetch and carry with little complaint, dealing well with sticky hands, after-school activities and the constant calls to change the radio station to “modern music”.

There are two cupholders in the centre console, a space in front of the gear stick, a USB port, and three 12V plugs

There are two cupholders in the centre console to hold that life-giving elixir, and a space in front of the gear stick that can hold your phone, wallet and other essentials. A USB port and three 12V plugs increase connectivity but why you would need three of the latter is a point to ponder.

Deep door pockets will take decent-sized water bottles, and there are two cupholders in the centre armrest should rear-seat passengers need them. Passengers in the back also get air vents (so civilised, I know) so you can always threaten to cut off the kids' air supply if they continue to annoy each other (try it, it’s pretty effective).

What’s the tech like?

The Si Premium sports a new 8.0-inch integrated colour touchscreen which is your window to the multimedia system. It is super simple to work your way through, and has an intuitive satellite navigation system with speed limit prompts.

Bluetooth connectivity is simple and there's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth connectivity is simple and there's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Bluetooth connectivity is simple, too, and there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you can’t be parted from your smartphone. This Sportage also features an impressive eight-speaker audio system for those times when you can’t help but sing along, along with DAB+ radio, which works better in the city than it does in regional areas.

What’s the safety like?

It is the new safety features now included as standard at the entry end of the Sportage range that adds to the appeal of this vehicle. The Si Premium gains Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) with forward collision warning, which we got to test thanks to a supermarket carpark incident. Why is it that so many drivers leave their common sense at the entry of a carpark? Just because you pretend not to see me doesn’t mean you can just pull out right in front of me. Anyway…

The Si Premium also gets lane-keep assist, which can be a touch annoying if you want to cut through corners, but life-saving if you drift into oncoming traffic. The five-star ANCAP-rated safety pack includes six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera with moving guidelines.

How much does it cost to own?

This Si Premium Sportage starts from $32,390, an increase of $1400 on the previous model, but Kia says that is justified by the increased standard equipment which is just about right. It's moderately economical on the fuel, too, and although we were almost two litres off the official 7.9L/100km, that was probably down to the more than gentle urging up steeper hills.

Of course the Sportage comes with one of the best warranties in the business – peace of mind for seven years and unlimited kilometres.

But wait, there’s more.

There is seven-year roadside assist and capped-price servicing for the same period. The first service at three months is free, and the total seven-year program should cost just shy of $3000.


The Wrap

In the Sportage, Kia has a useful small family car that makes sense. It is spacious and practical, drives well, and it has a great list of comfort and safety inclusions. The long warranty and capped-price service program is a boon for families looking to keep an eye on expenses.

We liked the Sportage’s no-fuss attitude and the ability to do what it says on the box. The kids thought their lodgings comfortable and were happy the backseat could fit all the many belongings that have to accompany any outing.

While the 2.0-litre petrol served our needs, I would probably look at the larger petrol or diesel if you do frequent longer distance trips or live in a particularly hilly area.

Is this car this or that? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Likes

Improved safety inclusions
Better ride
Practicality

Dislikes

2.0-litre lacked a bit of power
No electric park brake in lower models

Scores

Vani:

3.5

The Kids:

3.5

$32,290

Based on new car retail price