Now in its fifth generation, Kia’s Sportage SUV has been given a mild refresh and a frugal turbodiesel powertrain for its entry-level derivatives. Ian McLaren got behind the wheel of the RR637 955 LX on its launch, read his thoughts below.
Kia Sportage 1,6 CRDi LX fast facts
- Price: R637 955
- Engine: 1,6-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch
- Power: 100 kW @ 4 000 r/min
- Torque: 320 N.m @ 2 000 – 2 250 r/min
- Driven wheels: Front
- Fuel consumption: 4,9 L/100 km
- CO2 emissions: 129 g/km
- Rivals: VW Tiguan; Hyundai Tucson
What are we driving?
No longer content to wait for a mid-cycle refresh/facelift on a particular vehicle within its portfolio before introducing relevant updates, Kia South Africa has taken the decision to adjust its local Sportage offering to include a reconsidered engine line up, as well as additional standard safety specification.
Currently, in its fifth generation, the Sportage SUV is seen by many as a marker for how far the Kia brand has come in terms of quality, reputation and status over the past three decades. Our reigning Top 12 Best Buys winner in its category, the modern Sportage offers bold styling, a spacious interior and build quality that we’d suggest is on a par with most of this car’s German rivals, including the likes of BMW.
Why is the updated Sportage significant?
Noting the current trend towards buying down from the so-called premium SUV category, Kia South Africa has earmarked an enticing gap in the market for the kind of quality, spaciousness and pricing that the updated Sportage range offers. This includes the strategic reintroduction of turbodiesel technology. As Kia suggests (and we agree) as a brand still have access to modern turbodiesel powertrains, based on the penchant shown for this technology by the South African market over the years, why wouldn’t you maximise this opportunity?
Going forward, the entry-level Sportage range, including LX and EX, will be sold exclusively with the brand’s 100 kW/320 N.m 1,6-litre CRDi turbodiesel motor that is mated with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 1,6 T-GDi turbopetrol drivetrain that offers 132 kW and 265 N.m of torque is still available in three GT-Line derivatives.
What’s new on the updated Kia Sportage?
Drivetrain options aside, the modern Sportage range benefits from a considered adjustment upwards in terms of standard safety specification. Previously only available in the flagship derivatives, the brand’s modern ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) setup is now included throughout the range. This introduces lane-keeping assistance with blind-spot monitoring, as well as forward collision avoidance that anticipates a front-end collision before both alerting the driver and potentially intervening by way of an emergency braking manoeuvre.
It seems misplaced to refer to the updated Sportage LX as the entry-level derivative, such is the comprehensive list of nice-to-have standard specification included on this model. This includes distinctly styled 17-inch alloy wheels, colour coding, auto LED headlamps, climate control, a leather-covered multifunction steering wheel, rear parking sensors with a reverse camera and a 12,3-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Indeed, while Kia South Africa suggests that it’ll be the EX derivative that will prove most popular, it’s only the heated seats and steering wheel – and perhaps the front parking sensors – that we would miss by saving the money on the LX.
What does the updated Kia Sportage cost?
Kia South Africa remains suitably proud of both its value proposition (taking into account the Sportage’s newfound premium standing), as well as its well-established after-sales support structures. This includes a standard 5-year/unlimited km warranty, with roadside assistance, as well as a 6-year/90 000 km service plan.
- 1.6 CRDi LX – R637 995
- 1.6 CRDi EX – R691 995
- 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line – R713 995
- 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line Plus – R741 995
- 1.6 CRDi GT-Line Plus – R765 995
- 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line S – R798 995
What are the new Kia Sportage’s rivals?
It’s interesting to note that Kia South Africa feels so confident in what Sportage offers in terms of packaging, build quality and established brand reputation that it doesn’t list any of the modern Chinese offerings available in this segment as direct rivals. While we tend to agree in terms of the peace of mind that owning a notably well-built, sophisticated-feeling SUV adds to the buying proposition, you would have to think that the perceived value proposition currently being offered by the likes of Chery and Haval will inevitably continue to prove enticing.
Obvious rivals for Sportage include the modern Hyundai Tucson, the Mazda CX-5, the Toyota RAV4 and the forthcoming all-new VW Tiguan. The Nissan Qashqai deserves a mention, too
What’s the updated Kia Sportage 1,6 CRDi LX like to drive?
Beginning with the fact that even as an entry-level derivative the LX loses little by way of visual impact in the parking area, there’s a lot to like about the most affordable model in the updated Sportage range. The cloth-covered seats are impressively comfortable and offer a good range of adjustment, and the rear passenger legroom is among the best in class (bested only by Tucson). I’m a massive fan of a leather-covered steering wheel as a premium first point of contact, while most of the other touchpoints around the cabin feature a welcome level of cushioning. I also like that the entry-level digital instrument cluster is still large, clear and comprehensive enough for you not to yearn for the larger item fitted in the GT-Line models.
There’s enough performance on offer from the 1,6-litre turbodiesel to easily maintain momentum, while I managed just 5,4 L/100 km over the course of our Western Cape launch route (leaving the car in its “Smart” driving mode. An altogether more spirited return trip with my driving partner for the day behind the wheel realised 6,3 L/100 km.
The modern Sportage’s cabin is one of the quietest in the business, while the 17-inch rubber fitted to the LX specification model delivers one of the best default ride qualities of this segment.
All of the qualities that served to deliver the modern Sportage a Top 12 Best Buys win remain, while the range is now even more enticing with the inclusion of additional standard safety specification throughout, as well as the broad introduction of an excellent turbodiesel powertrain.