The all-new KIA Sportage cuts a bold figure as it looks to build on its predecessors’ myriad successes

Few brands can claim to live up to their company slogan with the same commitment and consistency this Korean automaker has displayed. “The Power To Surprise” has driven impressive generation-to-generation leaps that have seen its hatchbacks, sedans, crossovers and SUVs move from occupying budget segments to becoming vehicles that are praised for their award-winning design, state-of-the-art technologies and class-leading customer-satisfaction ratings.

Perhaps more than any other KIA, the Sportage has transformed customer perceptions of the brand. KIA Motors South Africa’s Marketing Director, David Sieff, elaborates: “The Sportage pioneered the current affection for SUVs that aren’t boring, purely practical people movers. The all-new model appeals to a more discerning SUV driver who wants not only the core benefits that come with driving an SUV, such as space and practicality, but also a high-quality lifestyle vehicle that features all the latest innovations and makes no compromises on comfort.”  And, judging by this new, fourth-generation Sportage’s looks alone, KIA is not resting on the laurels of its very successful predecessor.

A bold restyle led by its European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany, with input from the brand’s Namyang, South Korea, and Irvine, California, design centres, has been inspired by a dynamic interplay of angles and smooth lines. The frontal aspect sees the headlamps migrate from the grille to the upper bonnet, while the profile exhibits an angled, rakish silhouette with larger rear haunches. Overhangs are longer up front and shorter at the rear to accentuate the dynamic, sporty silhouette, supplemented by taillamp treatments with narrow light clusters bridged by a chrome strip.

While the vehicle’s width and height are essentially the same as the outgoing car, a 40 mm increase in length and 30 mm in the wheelbase translates into more passenger kneeroom. The floor is 40 mm lower, making getting in and out easier, too. The 60:40-split rear seats fold close to completely flat and Kia claims a 26 dm3 increase in boot capacity, and up to 1 480 dm3 with all the seats folded. Rear seatbacks also recline for improved comfort over longer distances. Standard specification is generous, as you would expect from KIA, and includes leather seats and steering wheel, front and rear park-distance control, auto wipers, cruise control, front foglamps and power folding mirrors on all derivatives save the entry-level IGNITE. The SX and GT Line grades add heated and powered front seats, a rear-view camera and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth/aux-in/USB connectivity and sat-nav. Dynamic bending headlamps, blind-spot detection, wireless smartphone charger, seat ventilation and a panoramic sunroof are exclusive to the GT Line.

Joining the existing 2,0 DCVVT 114 kW/192 N.m petrol and upgraded 130 kW/400 N.m 2,0 VGT turbodiesel units are three new engines in the line-up:

• 97 kW/160 N.m 1,6 GDi petrol
• 135 kW/237 N.m 2,4 GDi petrol
• Range-topping 130 kW/265 N.m 1,6 TGDi turbopetrol.

In terms of transmissions, the 2,0 DCVVT retains the six-speed manual, while the 1,6 TGDi gets a new seven-speed dual-clutch DCT gearbox. The remainder of the range uses a six-speed automatic transmission. In terms of trim grades, the SX and GT Line models come standard with KIA’s AWD system that runs in two-wheel drive as the default mode, but can send 40% of the power to the rear if needed. There is also a permanent AWD mode that keeps all four wheels turning.

Petrol Range
114 kW @ 6 200 r/min
192 N.m @ 4 000 r/min
6-speed manual

1,6 GDi EX
97 kW @ 6 300 r/min
160 N.m @ 4 850 r/min
6-speed auto

2,4 GDi SX AWD
135 kW @ 6 000 r/min
237 N.m @ 4 000 r/min
6-speed auto

130 kW @ 5 500 r/min
265 N.m @ 1 500-4 500 r/min
7-speed DCT auto

Diesel Range
2,0 VGT EX
130 kW @ 4 000 r/min
400 N.m @ 1 750-2 750 r/min
6-speed auto

130 kW @ 4 000 r/min
400 N.m @ 1 750-2 750 r/min
6-speed auto

The iF Design Award
Launched in 1953, the annual iF Design Award has become one of the world’s most important prizes for excellence in design. It’s presented across seven disciplines and, in 2016, companies from 53 countries participated, submitting a total of 5 295 new designs. The KIA Sportage was honoured in the Automobiles/Vehicles/Bikes category where, along with overall design quality, the independent jury evaluated the cars on their finish, innovation, environmental impact and safety. 2016 was the seventh year in succession that KIA has won this coveted prize.

JD Power Initial Quality Study Award
Now in its 30th year, the annual JD Power IQS analyses responses from vehicle owners in 26 segments. IQS is determined by vehicle owners evaluating the driving experience, engine and transmission performance, and a broad range of quality-related problems within the first 90 days of ownership. The KIA Sportage was recognised as Best in Segment in the US market.