Kia Sportage VS Audi Q2
- Great ride
- Good standard safety
- Great standard features
- Rivals offer AWD cheaper
- Full safety suite on GT-Line only
- Petrol engine thirsty
- Decent levels of equipment
- New petrol AWD model is a peach
- A fairly charming thing overall
- Limited boot space in quattro models
- Back seat isn't massive
- Lacks some storage
If you take a snapshot of the Australian mid-size SUV market, it becomes apparent that the Kia Sportage is an oft-overlooked option in a sea of storied Japanese nameplates.
Perhaps it’s because the Sportage is a bit more controversially styled than its Tucson cousin, or perhaps it’s a victim of its own success, having been an attractive option for populating car-share fleets like GoGet.
But I’d argue that the Sportage is special in more ways than it gets credit for, and shouldn’t be overlooked by Australians on the hunt for a new mid-sizer, even this far into its lifecycle.
Read on to find out why, and which variant in the Sportage’s just updated 2020 lineup is our pick of the bunch.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
This is the 'Eureka!' moment for the Audi Q2. Finally, I get what they're going for, because this flagship performance-oriented petrol all-wheel drive (AWD) model is everything a fun, urban SUV should be.
When the Audi Q2 arrived in Australia earlier in 2017, it had the choice of a front-wheel drive (FWD) petrol or a pricey diesel version with AWD. But neither of those were as characterful or charming as perhaps we'd come to hope for when this boxy little bugger was unboxed.
But, finally, the 2018 Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI Quattro has arrived, and it all makes sense. And there have been a couple of extra little tweaks to the Audi Q2 2018 range - read on to find out more.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Sportage continues to age gracefully, now offering an increasingly finely tuned range of variants to suit most price brackets.
While its engine and transmission choices leave a little to be desired, it continues to offer impressive ride, handing, and technology when compared to many (but not all) Japanese segment rivals.
Our pick of the range is the SX in either engine, as it offers the lion’s share of Sportage spec items at the right price.
There is no denying the Audi Q2 2018 model range is all the better for introduction of the 2.0 TFSI variant, which is the best of the bunch in this writer's humble opinion.
Just keep in mind that competition in the small SUV segment is fierce, and with a lot of options boxes to be ticked to get the ideal Q2, it may be worth looking at your options in the market, particularly if you need something practical.
Would you choose the Audi Q2? Or would another small SUV suit you better? Let us know in the comments section below.
The Sportage isn’t as conservatively styled as its sensible spec would suggest. Clearly influenced by the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, with the bonnet-mounted light fittings, curvaceous edges and strip-light across the tailgate, the overall look aims to put the “sport” in “Sportage”.
It has enough of its almost insectoid personality to be criticised as a straight rip-off though, for better or worse, and its most recent facelift in 2018 accentuated its best features. At least one criticism that can’t be leveled at the Sportage is that it looks boring.
The more aggressive look certainly sets it apart from the conservatively styled Hyundai Tucson with which it shares a chassis, and that’s even more evident on the inside where there’s a sportier asymmetrical dash with a raised centre-console and slick, three-spoke steering wheel.
While everything is ergonomic in here – with an added bonus of dials and shortcut buttons for the climate controls - the screen-in-dash look is getting a bit dated. The same could be said for the interior plastics, which are finished largely in the same drab grey colour, no matter which grade you pick. The design of them is nice, but anything under the soft dash-topper is hard to the touch.
Thankfully, everything is superbly put together with not a squeak or rattle to be heard on any of the test cars I sampled, and the pared-back application of silver highlights in the dash is tasteful. The quad-dial instrument cluster is a classic layout. There’s no option for a digital dash in the Sportage range.
The two-tone alloys look great, no matter which grade you pick, and aside from the flared bits and LED light fittings on the GT-Line, it’s genuinely hard to tell the grades apart from each other, which is good for low-spec buyers.
Overall, the Sportage presents a design which has aged well, thanks to a more risqué approach being taken when this generation first launched in 2016.
Ummm, have you seen the Audi Q2? It looks pretty much unlike all of the other Audi SUVs you can buy, and you'll either be a fan of that, or you won't.
There isn't much major visual differentiation between the newly added 2.0 TFSI Quattro version and the more affordable petrol model aside from this version rolling on 18-inch wheels as opposed to the 17s of the base petrol, and the entry-level model misses out on body-colour mouldings around the wheels, side skirts and bumpers. Both the quattro models look identical to one another.
Like all Q2s (and arguably all Audis) you need to option the S-line styling package to make it look how you probably want it to. You can get 19-inch wheels if you want that extra tough appearance, plus there are optional C-pillar blade colours ('Manhattan' grey metallic, 'Titanium' grey matt, 'Ice' silver metallic, or body colour), and buyers have 12 body colours to choose from.
Like most Korean SUVs, the Sportage has the idea of practicality cooked-in throughout its cabin. It starts in the front row, where the driver and passenger have access to some large cupholders in the doors and centre console (suitable for 500ml containers), a decently sized top-box and glovebox, as well as a very large trench in front of the shift-lever, which also hosts the USB and aux inputs, as well as dual 12V power outlets.
In the back seat, there are plenty of amenities, with decently sized cupholders in each door, pockets on the back of the seats, air-conditioning vents on the back of the console as well as dual power outlets. Another neat trick is that the Sportage has reclining rear seats, allowing extra comfort for rear-seat passengers, or extra boot space where required.
To its credit, the boot space is easy to use and comes with an adjustable rolling cover. Part of the reduction in sheer capacity is due to a full-size alloy spare living under the boot floor – a big bonus for regional buyers, who may need one as a matter of safety.
Leg and headroom are simply great, no matter which seat you’re sitting in, and the big rear doors on the Sportage open nice and wide – good for low-mobility passengers or those needing to fit a child-seat.
Well, let's put it this way - if you want the most pragmatic and thoughtful small SUV out there, you should be looking at the Mini Countryman or BMW X1, both of which offer supreme space for their size.
That isn't to say that the Q2 is impractical - it still has a 355-litre boot space in quattro models (405-litre for the FWD version), and you could fit five adults in at a squeeze, provided they aren't big boppers. If you have children, the dual ISOFIX points and three top-tether hooks will be of note, and there are rear seat air-vents in all Q2 models.
Storage is reasonably well sorted up front, with cupholders between the seats and decent door pockets, as well as a few little trinket cubbies here and there. In the back, though, there is no fold-down armrest (meaning no cupholders), but you can fit a bottle in each of the doors. Map pockets aren't standard, either.
There are plenty of tricks Audi has employed with the interior styling of the Q2 - at a glance, it looks pretty smart and funky. But there are cost-cutting measures evident, like the scratchy plastics on the doors and hard plastics down below your eye-line.
Price and features
You did read that right, the Sportage range – despite looking exactly the same as last year’s iteration – has received a mild nip and tuck, which includes new variants and pricing. As before, the Sportage range is offered with a choice of three engines, two petrols and a diesel, with either front- or all-wheel drive across four trim levels. All prices on the Sportage range are drive-away.
Kicking off the range is the S, which is available as a 2.0-litre petrol front-wheel drive in either a re-introduced six-speed manual ($28,990), six-speed auto ($29,990) or as an eight-speed auto diesel AWD ($36,990).
Standard spec, even on the entry-level car, is impressive. Included are 17-inch alloy wheels (no steelies here), LED DRLs (but halogen headlights), leather-trimmed wheel and shift-lever, hard-wearing cloth seat trim, a 3.5-inch dot-matrix info screen in the dash, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android auto support, dual-zone climate control, as well as rear parking sensors and camera. Another nice touch is that the base S model also scores auto rain-sensing wipers as standard.
Considering the standard active-safety suite explored in the safety section of this review, the S could easily be the pick of the range of any other SUV lineup, but our pick is still the mid-grade SX (previously known as the Si).
Available in the same three drivetrain choices at a $2500 premium, the SX adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels, front-facing parking sensors, a more impressive-looking 8.0-inch touchscreen with DAB+ digital radio and built-in sat-nav, backed by an eight-speaker JBL audio system. We’d say the extra spice is well worth it, making the SX our pick.
Jumping up to the SX Plus (previously the SLi) adds leather seat trim (which is hard-wearing, but isn’t the most luxurious-feeling fake leather on the market), an upgrade to the visual treatment with chrome and gloss black highlights, a larger colour TFT screen embedded in the dash, and, for the first time in a mid-grade Sportage, a powered tailgate. The SX Plus is well equipped, but if you can do without leather seat trim, it's not really worth the $7000 like-for-like switch up from the SX…
Available as an all-wheel-drive only, the penultimate Sportage is the GT-Line. Finally gaining a full suite of LED front lights and, frustratingly, the only way to specify a Sportage with blind-spot monitoring, active cruise control and rear cross traffic alert, the GT-Line is relatively expensive, even for the segment, at $46,490 for the 2.4-litre six-speed auto petrol or $49,490 for the eight-speed auto turbo diesel.
Other fruit for the extra money includes a sports bodykit, aggressive 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, a wireless phone-charging bay, and an automatic-parking suite.
The range kicks off from $41,800 for the 1.4 TFSI Design model (up $700 since its early 2017 launch), while the quattro AWD models include the new 2.0 TFSI sport model at $48,500 and the range-topping 2.0 TDI sport, which lists at $49,100 (previously $47,900).
There is a good amount of standard kit fitted to all Q2 models, including the addition of new LED headlights, which are far more attractive, not to mention more illuminating, than the existing halogens. The brand's 'MMI' multimedia controller with sat nav and 'Audi Connect' makes use of a 7.0-inch dash-top screen, and the car comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in all models, too.
There is dual-zone climate control across the range, while the quattro models get an electric tailgate as standard. All models have an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and the entry-grade model sports 17-inch wheels, where the quattro versions score 18s.
Leather seat trim is standard across the line-up, with the quattro models adopting sports seats for extra support, though seat heating is an option on all versions, and manual seat adjustment is the norm, too.
There is a good deal of standard gear, sure - but if you want to make your Audi Q2 a bit more special, there is a range of optional packs that may be of interest to you: it has sort of become the norm for premium brands, offering strong standard kit but a bunch of enhancement packages for those who want a little more to brag about.
For the safety-conscious there's the 'Assistance Pack' ($990 - see the safety section below for details of what's in the pack, and what's new for 2018), and a lot of people are likely to want to go for the 'Comfort Pack', a $1900 option that includes keyless entry and start, electric lumbar adjustment, heated and folding side mirrors with dimming, heated front seats, luggage nets on the front seat backs, a luggage net in the boot (and a light back there... can't believe that's not standard?), and drawers under the front seats.
The 'Technik Pack' is appealing, too, with Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' 12.3-inch driver info display, an upgraded media screen (8.3-inch) and a flat-bottom steering wheel. It costs $2500. And if you want more street cred, you might want to consider one of the S-line styling packs (there is a base version for the entry-level model, and a more comprehensive pack for the quattro variants).
Engine & trans
The Sportage is offered with a choice of three engines, all of which are unremarkable.
These engines are also starting to show their age, but the fact that you can choose either petrol or diesel across the range will be a win for some consumers.
The 2.0-litre petrol offered as the front-wheel drive option on the S, SX, and SX Plus grades produces 114kW/192Nm and can be chosen with either a six-speed auto, or a six-speed manual on the bottom two grades.
The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine offered across the range with only an eight-speed automatic in all-wheel drive produces a better-sounding 136kW/400Nm (hence the price hike).
The GT-Line is the only grade that can be had as a petrol in all-wheel drive, it benefits from a larger 2.4-litre petrol engine with outputs set at 135kW/237Nm, paired only to a six-speed automatic.
It would be nice to see higher tech turbocharged petrol engines make it to the Sportage range for the sake of both power and fuel efficiency, but these kinds of dated petrol powertrains are par-for-the course in the Australian mid-size SUV landscape.
A benefit to many drivers will be the torque-converter automatic transmissions, rather than their lacklustre CVT counterparts, which appear in most of this car’s Japanese rivals.
The new 2.0 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is considerably punchier than the existing 1.4 turbo-petrol, with 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque. That turns this litter jigger into something like a boxy hot hatch on stilts.
Audi claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds, so finally it has the performance muscle to match those chiseled exterior panels.
Unlike the other, more affordable petrol model the 2.0 TFSI has quattro AWD. The 1.4 TFSI persists with 110kW/250Nm and a sprint time of 8.5sec, while the 2.0 TDI retains its 110kW/320Nm outputs and can shuffle to highway pace in 8.1sec. All Q2 models have seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions.
A downside to old engines with rigid transmission ratios pulling heavy SUV bodies is a notable cost in the fuel-consumption department.
The 2.0-litre front-drive variants carry claimed combined fuel-consumption figures of 7.9L/100km, but the figure most people will experience is in the rather more honest official “urban” figure of 10.9L/100km.
In my back-to-back tests of the 2.0-litre petrol versions of the SX and SX Plus I produced figures on either side of that number, scoring 10.5L/100km and 11L/100km in the real world, over about 350km of testing respectively.
Not great, then, and those figures are easily bested by CVT rivals – even the 2.5-litre all-wheel-drive Forester – according to real-world figures put on the board in recent CarsGuide reviews.
Mercifully, the Sportage is capable of drinking base-grade 91RON petrol to fill its 62-litre tank.
Audi claims fuel consumption for this flagship petrol model is 6.5L/100km. That makes it 1.2L/100km thirstier than the front-drive petrol, and 1.5L higher than the diesel - but you get a lot more performance from this model.
On the launch loop, which involved high-speed country roads, dirt tracks and some minor urban chicanery, we saw a figure of 7.6L/100km in the top-spec petrol - pretty respectable.
The Sportage’s engine choices don’t offer the most modern drive experience on the mid-size SUV market, but its locally tuned suspension really makes it stand apart from the pack. This means it’s at its best in most driving scenarios you’ll experience in Australia. I’ve driven Sportage variants on long-distance freeway drives, across the worst, most potholed streets Sydney’s CBD has to offer, as well as rutted gravel tracks on the other side of NSW’s Blue Mountains, and all of them behaved admirably, everywhere.
On the axis of sport-to-comfort I’d say the Sportage’s ride sits slightly to the sportier end of the equation. It’s a stiffer ride than the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, or the new Toyota RAV4, for example. Yet it seems to strike a more comfortable balance than the sporty CX-5.
The handling is really nice for an SUV this size, as I’ve said in previous reviews – it’s nimble and feels almost like you’re piloting a giant hatchback. For reasons I can’t seem to pin down, I vastly prefer the Sportage’s ride and handling to that of the Tucson. It just feels more balanced all round than its Hyundai cousin.
The engines are a bit of a letdown, however. While all are adequate for city-commuting duty, on the open road and up hills the petrol drivetrains get thrashy and noisy quickly – and at higher revs the limitations of these engines' outputs become apparent.
That having been said, both automatic transmissions are slick and predictable. When power is needed they also lock into gear nicely, unlike their CVT competition. We are yet to sample the re-introduced manual variants.
There is no doubt in my mind that the 2.0 TFSI was the Q2 we've been waiting for. With its balance of extra grunt and better traction, it makes for a pretty involving and entertaining drive experience. You need to option drive mode selection, with five drive modes including an individual set-up, if you want to tailor the car to your desires. Adaptive dampers are available at a cost, too.
There's good response when you shove your right foot to the floor, with just a hint of turbo lag if you catch the car off-guard. Flick the shifter to the sport mode and that won't be an issue, and indeed the Q2 will eagerly hold on to gears in anticipation.
While dual-clutch transmissions are known for their low-speed foibles, this one seems to have most of those lurching movements ironed out - though it still takes a bit of getting used to, and there isn't a very nice sound from the drivetrain in most situations. A more raucous exhaust note would be welcomed.
The so-called 'progressive' steering doesn't have the best feel to it, but it is quick and accurate, which makes it feel like you're part of the action. The ride - even in our test car, clad with optional 19-inch wheels and low-profile tyres, while going without adaptive dampers - was mostly very good, particularly considering some of the surfaces we encountered (parts of the country roads in the Barrington Tops, in north-east NSW, consist more a patchwork of pothole repairs rather than an actual level surface). That said, really sharp edges can upset the front axle a touch.
The quattro AWD system comes into its own on sweeping country back roads, though, and the short gravel stint suggested there was good grip and traction on offer.
Even just last year, the Sportage’s standard active-safety equipment would have been considered pretty good, even a whole point better than what I’ve given it here. The thing is, though, thanks largely to ANCAP and EuroNCAP’s far more stringent analysis of active technology in the last year, the game has been raised by many of the Sportage’s competitors.
It would be nice, for example, to see active cruise control and blind-spot monitoring available on the SX Plus grade, or, better still, available as an option pack across the range, a-la-Hyundai’s approach.
And now, with the introduction of high-tier active-safety suites on low-spec variants of the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester, it’s hard to give the Sportage flying colours in this department.
Still, the fact that auto emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist (LKAS) and driver-attention alert (DAA) ship on the base-model S is reasonably impressive.
Outside of that, all Sportage grades get six airbags, the expected stability and brake controls, as well as three top-tether and two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points.
The Sportage carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of this-generation’s launch in 2016.
The Audi Q2 range has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP score, and comes fitted with a decent array of safety gear as standard. The goodies list comprises a reversing camera, parking sensors, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection (up to 65km/h), blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
There is an optional ($990) 'Assistance Pack' available across the range, which adds adaptive cruise control with high-speed AEB (up to 200km/h), lane keeping assist, Audi's traffic jam assist (which can accelerate, brake and steer at speeds up to 65km/h), semi-automated parking, automated high-beam lights and a system known as 'Emergency Assist', which can pull the car off the road if the driver is non-compliant with impulses sent to them (beeps, vibrations etc).
A head-up display is now optional on all variants, too, but at $1050, you'd just get the Technik Pack and make the speedo as big as it can be, right?
Kia continues to lead the pack with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is two years more than the acceptable segment standard. That’s also backed by eight years of roadside assist if you service at an authorised dealer.
There’s also a comprehensive capped-price-servicing program for the life of the warranty, averaging out to a not-particularly-cheap $391.71 per year for the 2.0L petrol, $408.14 for the 2.4L petrol, or $511.43 for the diesel.
The Sportage will have a battle on its hands in the coming years, with fellow Korean competitor, Ssangyong, looking to launch its new-generation Korando with a highly competitive seven-year ownership program.
Audi offers a three-year/unlimited km warranty on all of its new models, and servicing is due every 12 months/15,000km. Roadside assist is included for the length of the warranty period.
The brand has a pre-purchase service pack, which covers the first 36 months/45,000km of maintenance, which costs $1590.