Kia Sportage VS BMW X1
- Great ride
- Good standard safety
- Great standard features
- Rivals offer AWD cheaper
- Full safety suite on GT-Line only
- Petrol engine thirsty
- Roomy cabin
- Big boot
- Easy to drive
- No AEB
- Small screen in all but the top grade
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.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The BMW X1 is the base camp at the foot of the German brand’s SUV model mountain, but there's more to it than entry-point affordability.
And there are many other surprises from this small and seemingly sensible and small member of BMW’s X family.
Want to know more? Then read this range review of the X1.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
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.
The X1 is a small, sensible, practical member of BMW’s SUV family – it’s also the most affordable and the value for money is good. But don’t worry, the X1 is a real BMW, right down to the driving dynamics and craftmanship.
The sweet spot in the X1 range is actually the entry grade sDrive18i as it comes with nearly all the features you'll see on the rest for a lot less money.
The X1 is up against some tough competition. Would you choose a Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3 over an X1? Tell us what you think in the comments 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.
Nope the X1 is the sensible one in the family and in many ways this is a strength and you can read all about its practical side below.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a prestige car and it looks it outside and inside where the premium feeling interior is well-crafted.
Take a look at the interior images. BMW fans will know the dash layout well – that large centre stack of climate control and media, but the scooped-out centre console design is new to this generation and looks great.
All X1s come fitted with the 'xLine' package which adds Pearl Dark and Peal Chrome trim elements, and aluminium door sills.
At 4439mm long, 2060mm wide (with mirrors) and 1598mm tall, the X1 is 79mm longer end-to-end than the X2, about the same width, and 70mm taller. So yes, the dimensions - exterior and interior - show that even though the X2 sits higher in the SUV line-up, the X1 is bigger in size.
An M Sport package can be optioned for $3000 and adds a tough-looking body kit with side skirts and a more aggressive front bumper, plus adaptive dampers and sport seats.
Only two paint colours are no-cost options – 'Alpine White' and black, but both look great. Metallic paint will cost you $1547, but ticking that box unlocks more colours such as 'Sunset Orange', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Atlantic Grey', 'Sparkling Brown' and 'Glacier Silver', but no red.
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.
Now we’re talking. The X1 uses the same the platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer which is a mini people mover and inherits many of its good practicality points. That’s one of the reasons why the X1 has more head and legroom in the front and back than an X3.
Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm knee room to spare and could wear a top hat at the same time.
Okay, boot space dimensions. The X1’s cargo capacity falls short of the X3’s by 45 litres at 505 litres, but that’s 35 litres more than the boot size of the X2. A Merc GLA has far less boot space at 421 litres, and the Audi Q3’s luggage capacity is 460 litres.
Storage throughout the cabin is great with two cupholders in the back and two up front, large bottle holders in the doors, fold-out storage in the back row and a tray under the centre armrest in the front.
If you have small children or you’re not the gymnast you used to be you’ll like the ride height of the X1 – it’s not sky-high like many large SUVs and you’re not sitting on the ground; you almost walk in and shut the door.
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.
How much does the X1 cost? Let’s take a look at the price list. The X1 is the most affordable model in BMW’s SUV line-up and kicks off with the sDrive18i ($45,900 RRP), stepping up to the only diesel in the range, the sDrive18d ($49,900), followed by the sDrive20i ($53,600) and the top-of-the-range, and only all-wheel drive (AWD) variant, the xDrive25i ($61,500). Dealerships will often do driveaway deals and don’t be afraid to ask for their best price.
How much are second hand X1s going for? Well, at the time of writing there were four 2016 model X1s on carsguide.com.au, including an xDrive25i listed for $44,888. That should give you an idea about the X1’s resale value, too.
An inside tip on BMW SUVs is that the lower grades in the range come with most of the standard features you’ll find on the top-spec models, so really, the extra dollars buy you an engine with more grunt or AWD, which improves the on-road experience.
Here I’ll show you. The entry grade sDrive18i, and its diesel twin the sDrive18d, come standard with LED cornering headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails (roof racks), a power tailgate, auto parking system (self parking/park assist), front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.
Inside, these grades have a leather sports steering wheel, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, six-speaker stereo, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, cargo cover and floor mats.
The sDrive20i has all of this and adds dual-zone climate control, a luggage net, a dimming rear view mirror and an ambient lighting package.
If you want to feel like an ant under a magnifying glass, you can option the $1627 panoramic sunroof.
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.
Remember the pricing and how the features didn’t seem to match the dollars? Well here’s where a lot of your money goes – drivetrains. Oh, and by the way, the ‘s’ in sDrive means the SUV is front-wheel drive while the ‘x’ xDrive means, yes, it’s an AWD.
The sDrive18i has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and makes 103kW/220Nm. Shifting gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. BMW says the 0-100km/h ‘sprint’ takes a leisurely 9.6 seconds.
The sDrive18d is the diesel version of the 18i and its 2.0-litre four cylinder makes 110kW/330Nm. According to BMW 0-100km/h arrives in a slightly brisker 9.2 seconds. An eight-speed traditional auto shifts more smoothly but slower than the dual clutch.
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 141kW/280Nm, using the same seven-speed dual clutch as the 18i. The 20i is noticeably quicker with a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds.
Want something faster, more powerful and AWD? The xDrive25i also has a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder but it’s been dialled up to make 170kW/350Nm and is more than a second quicker to 100km/h than the 20i at 6.5 seconds. Shifting gears is BMW’s eight-speed sport automatic.
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.
Well it depends how you drive it, but officially BMW says the 18i uses 5.4L/100km, the diesel 18d is the most frugal at 4.7L/100km, while the 20i is thirstier at 6.2L/100km and the 25i is (as expected) even more so at 6.6L/100km.
When we drove the 18d our mainly urban use saw the trip computer reporting an average 10.6L/100km, while the top-of-the-range 25i used an average of 12.1L/100km in a week of city-centric duties.
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.
You could pick any of these X1s to take home and you’ll be happy with the driving experience. From the 18i to the 25i the ride is comfortable and composed, but the performance varies depending on which grade you’re piloting.
The 18d’s diesel engine is a bit noisy, but the cabin insulation cuts most of the clatter out. The 18d's tyres grip well in the corners, but while the steering feels smooth and accurate, it lacks road feel, and that goes for all X1s and many BMWs in general. Still, all X1s are engaging and easy to drive.
Does the 18d feel like it lacks grunt? Nope, 330Nm is heaps. It’s a shame we don’t get the 18d in AWD. Our steep test hill saw the 18d struggle to maintain traction under hard accleration, while the all-paw 25i powered up with no wheel spinning.
The 20i like the 18i and 18d is front-wheel drive only, but unless you’re accelerating hard uphill or in the wet from a standstill you're not likely to notice.
All X1s have hill start assist which will stop you from rolling back on steep gradients.
The 25i is the performance pick, that engine and eight-speed transmission are perfectly suited.
A turning circle (radius) of 11.4m is about par for the small SUV course.
A ground clearance of 183mm gives it an extra 20mm over say a BMW 3 Series, which is just enough to get you places a sedan would fear to tread.
What’s the X1’s wading depth? Wait, what? Where are you thinking of taking it? If you must ford a river (please try to find a bridge instead), the wading depth of the X1 is 250mm.
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 X1 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015. You’ll find the usual traction and stability controls, plus a suite of airbags, as well as lane departure and forward collision warning.
But it doesn’t come with AEB or other advanced safety equipment such as blind spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert. This is a weakness for the X1, because this type of technology is becoming common place.
For child and baby car seats there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.
Where is the X1 built? The X1 is made in Germany at BMW’s Leipzig plant.
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.
The X1 is covered by BMW’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Condition based servicing and maintenance means your X1 will tell you when it needs a check-up. Owners can purchase a servicing package. The 'Basic' package costs $1340 while the 'Plus' package is $2500 more.