January 2106 was when Kia Motors Australia launched the fourth generation of the Sportage Compact SUV. This vehicle was a major improvement on the previous model. Fast forward to July 2018 and Kia has managed to make some refined improvements to an already exemplary product offering.
The key refinements include
- Diesel drivetrain gains 8-speed auto
- Revised suspension brings more refined and compliant ride
- Revised subframe and steering geometry for better responsiveness
- AEB and Lane Keep Assist across the range
Kia Sportage Range
For the Australian market the new Sportage will be available in four trim levels _ Si, Si Premium, SLi and GT-Line _
With a choice of three engines:
- a 2.0-litre MPI (114kW and 192 Nm) for Si, Si Premium and SLi,
- a 2.4-litre Theta GDI (135kW and 237Nm) in GT-Line only and
- a 2.0-litre diesel (136kW and 400Nm) in all grades.
And a choice if two transmissions;
- 6 Speed automatic for the petrol engines and
- 8 speed automatic for the diesels.
Sportage is available in five full-range colours, Clear White (standard), Steel Grey, Sparkling Silver, Fiery Red and Mercury Blue while Snow White Pearl and Cherry Black are exclusive to GT-Line. All colours except Clear White carry a $520 premium.
Kia Sportage External
The MY19 update sees some changes to the front light clusters with the HID headlamps on the GT-Line making way for a full LED cluster and fog lamp aperture on the Si and Si Premium getting sharper lines for a sportier, more aggressive look.
There are some minor cosmetic changes to the grill as well as a revised tail light cluster that improves braking visibility
To complement the changes there are also new designs for the 17-, 18- and 19-inch alloys to set the product enhancement apart from the current models.
It is surprising how good these new wheels look and how much they lift the overall profile of the vehicle.
The Sportage retains its combination of sleek and muscular style with short overhangs to be arguably one of the best looking in class.
Kia Sportage Interior
The recent update has seen some cosmetic upgrades to the interiors. These include some styling highlights surrounding the centre navigation screen, some trim changes for GT Line and a general refinement
All of the seats across the range are comfortable. The fabric in the SI and SI Premium is better than most and the leather trim in the other models is hard wearing while maintaining softness.
The SLi and GT Line obviously has electrically adjustable seats with additional lumbar support, which is always welcome.
The Sportage also features two USB charging points, one in the front and another in the rear, to allow all occupants to charge their mobile devices while on the move.
Otherwise the Sportage is the same quality, roomy interior of the earlier model.
For more information about the interior, read our original reviews of the launch of the 4thgeneration Sportage.
Kia Sportage Features
Entry Level Si comes with:
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity,
- engine immobilizer,
- remote central locking,
- 6-way adjustable driver’s seat,
- 7-inch colour LCD infotainment system
- 6-speaker audio unit,
- cloth trim seats,
- rain sensing wipers,
- cruise control,
- power windows front and rear,
- Bluetooth functionality,
The Si Premium adds:
- satellite navigation,
- front parking sensors,
- LED running lights,
- 18-inch alloys with 225/55 R18 rubber,
- 8-inch touch screen infotainment centre,
- DAB digital radio,
- 8-speaker JBL premium sound system and
- 10-year Mapcare and SUNA Traffic monitoring.
- 17-inch alloys with 225/60 R17 tyres
The SLi adds to the extensive list:
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System,
- smart key with push button start,
- leather appointed seats,
- 10-way driver adjustable seat,
- LED rear combination lamps,
- electronic parking brake and
- 18-inch alloys wheel with 225/55 R18 tyres,
GT Line adds
- 8-way power front passenger seat,
- Intelligent Parking Assist System,
- LED fog lights,
- GT-Line sports pack (bumpers, side sill and grille),
- panoramic sunroof,
- Flat-bottomed sports wheel with gear-shift paddles,
- wireless phone charging,
- heated and ventilated front seats,
- hands-free power tailgate,
- Advanced Smart Cruise Control,
- 19-inch alloys with 245/45 R19 rubber and
- LED headlights with auto levelling.
Kia Sportage Engine and Drivetrain
The updated Sportage will feature the proven engine range of 2.0-litre Nu MPI petrol, 2.4-litre Theta GDi petrol and 2.0-litre R turbo diesel.
All petrol engines will drive through the proven 6-speed automatic while the diesel drivetrain will feature the new 8-speed automatic as seen in the Stinger and Sorento.
The 2.0-litre MPI engine produces 114kW of power and 192Nm of torque, the 2.4-litre engine produces 135kW and peak torque of 237Nm torque while the diesel has peak power of 136kW and 400Nm of torque.
All petrol models will feature a six-speed automatic gearbox driving the front wheels only in the 2.0-litre petrol Si, Si Premium and SLi models and linked to Kia’s proven on-demand AWD system in the 2.4-litre GDI petrol in the GT-Line.
All diesel models also feature the AWD system but now benefit from Kia’s in-house 8-speed automatic gearbox.
There really isn’t any changes to the engines. However the 8 speed transmission in the diesel models provides a marginal fuel efficiency improvement, but importantly improves what is already a great engine/transmission combination.
Kia Sportage – What is it like to drive?
As with all Kia models in Australia, the local engineering team has taken the opportunity to revisit the ride and handling package introduced with the fourth generation car.
The recalibrations and improvements introduced for the product enhancement have given the Sportage a more compliant ride with improved body control and enhanced steering feel.
Its obvious how important Kia’s commitment to local tuning of their vehicles is to their improved ride and handling.
On the test we drove all the engine and transmission combinations.
The 2.0l Si with 17-inch alloys with 225/60 R17 tyres is light and nimble. Because there is a reasonable amount of rubber on the road, the tyres assist the suspension to soak up bumps and road irregularities etc. There has been very little changes to this vehicle as far as driving goes.
The 2.4l petrol engine around town is again nimble. Both the petrol engines were found a little wanting when pushed hard on the open road and through tight twisty sections, often changing down hard to find the torque.
However, to be honest almost all drivers won’t drive like that and for normal driving conditions, buyers will be happy with either of the petrol engines.
To my mind the pick of the range is the 2.0L CRDi / 8 speed AWD versions.
The 2.0L AWD diesel vehicles have had some work done to the sub frame and steering geometry along with the introduction of stronger, but progressive bleed dampers to produce a ride/handling/ quietness combination well beyond what you would expect for the price.
Even though the GT Line runs on 19-inch alloys with 245/45 R19 rubber, the ride suffers marginally, especially given the improvements to handling.
There are some fancy European badged SUV’s that would be severely embarrassed in a direct comparison.
Overall, across the range, the suspension geometry remains unchanged from the fourth generation model retaining the significant improvements introduced at that time.
Those modifications included revised bushing mount positions for greater stability and more natural responses to changing road surfaces, as well as stiffer wheel bearings and bushings resulting in more direct handling and greater stability in all conditions.
The steering gearbox is now also mounted further forward on the axle for noticeably smoother steering inputs.
For the rear suspension – also fully-independent, including the adoption of dual lower-arm multi-link suspension for two-wheel and four-wheel drive models – the Sportage received a stiffer cross member to cut road noise and vibrations from intruding into the cabin.
Specially-tuned dampers featured a longer rebound stroke to eliminate smaller vibrations from poor road surfaces, while the rear subframe is mounted on isolated bushings to further improve the NVH performance of the suspension.
The Kia Sportage is amongst the best handling and quietest SUVs in its class.
Kia Sportage Safety
Safety, as always, is a top priority for Kia, with the achievement of a 5 Star ANCAP safety rating. The rating for the updated model is yet to be determined, but Kia is expecting no changes.
The Sportage is engineered to meet the toughest and most demanding crash safety tests, thanks to an even stronger bodyshell, a wide array of passive safety equipment and the latest active safety and autonomous hazard avoidance technologies.
Pedestrian safety is further improved with a lower leading edge on the bonnet and a larger impact absorption area, which utilizes highly-absorbent safety foam and synthetic rubber, further helping to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision.
Entry level Si. Si Premium and SLi comes with:
- Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
- ABS, and Electronic Stability Control (ESC),
- Downhill Brake Control (DBC),
- Hill Start Assist (HSA),
- reverse parking sensors,
- rear view camera with dynamic guidelines,
- Lane Keeping Assist, (LKA)
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and
- Forward Collision Warning (FCWS),
- High Beam Assist,
- 3-point ELR seatbelts in all positions,
- six airbags, airbags for driver and front passenger, first row side airbags, and first and second row curtain airbags
- front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters and
- Two ISOFIX child-seat tethers and three anchor points,
- Impact sensing auto door unlocking.
GT Line adds
- Blind Spot Detection,
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert,
Kia Sportage Summary
The SUV market is increasingly competitive and popular amongst buyers.
Kia has taken the opportunity to make some subtle enhancements to the Sportage to keep the vehicle at the forefront of buyer’s minds. These changes have made what was already an excellent product offer even better.
As I mentioned, there are some highly rated, European badged SUVs that would be embarrassed in a direct comparison with the Sportage. That statement shows just how good the Sportage really is.
What is Good:
- Quality/value proposition
- Australian tuned ride and handling
- 2.0L CRDi/8 speed/ AWD combination
What is not so Good:
- Some of the interior still a little plastic
- Cannot turn off the Adaptive Cruise Control
- Some safety features only available on GT Line
Also look at
- Mazda CX5
- Subaru Outback
- Hyundai Tucson
- Honda CRV
Si 2.0-litre petrol $29,990
Si 2.0-litre diesel $35,390
Si Premium Petrol $32,290 (D/A $31,990)
Si Premium diesel $37,690 (D/A $37,390)
SLi 2.0-litre petrol $36,790
SLi 2.0-litre diesel $42,190
GT-Line 2.4-litre petrol $44,790
GT-Line 2.0-litre diesel $47,690