Kia launched the all new Sportage early in 2016 with a fresh design in a market that is becoming increasingly popular with consumers, competitive from manufacturers and homogenised by designers.
The all new fourth generation model is more a continuation of evolution but a large step taken.
The 2018 Kia Sportage GT-Line has a muscular bold design. With wider wheel arches it takes on a more muscular appearance but tapers towards the rear. It definitely has enough differentiation in its design, mainly from the bold muscle bound front and grill which amongst onlookers tends to polarise opinion.
From the side the appearance is longer and sleeker than the previous model with longer front overhang and tapering rear spoiler.
The good thing is that consumers will be buying a vehicle that will differentiate itself from the crowded segment. One very noticeable feature on the GT-Line is the quad fog light cluster.
Inside the story gets better. The first impression is one of a spacious and integrated interior with soft feel dash and quality ambiance. There is plenty of headroom, even in the GT-Line with the sunroof.
All seating is comfortable with the GT-Line having leather and electric adjustment for the driver with lumbar support. Front seats are both heated and air cooled which is a luxury fast becoming an essential in Australian conditions.
The height and reach adjustable steering wheel is thick rimmed, small diameter and on the Kia Sportage GT-Line flat bottomed. It feels great in the hands and contributes to the feeling of sporting (for an AWD SUV) handling.
As this is a family wagon the rear seats are extremely important and as mentioned the extra wheelbase is noticeable here. Even with the front seat fully slid back the rear occupants have reasonable head, shoulder, hip, knee and leg room, more so than many of its competitors.
On the centre stack there is a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment screen featuring reversing camera display with dynamic parking lines, while satellite navigation is standard.
The rear seats fold almost flat to allow quite a large rear boot area. The capacity is between 466 and 1455L. Access is through the hands free smart tailgate opening.
All infotainment systems feature Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and aux-in and USB ports for smartphones and MP3 music players. The Kia also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features for those that need to stay connected to their phones.
Additionally the Kia Sportage GT-Line features the smart parking assist system (SPAS) which will assist drivers into parallel or 90-degree parking spaces by measuring the available space, controlling steering and offering input instructions on the LCD display.
First seen on the Volkswagen Tiguan some 10 years ago, it has become more prevalent in recent years. Don’t underestimate the weird feeling of a car parking itself. It really is an exercise in restraint and faith.
Drive and Engine
The Sportage is powered by the familiar 2.0L CRDi engine that produces power of 136kW/ 400Nm This is delivered to the wheels through a six speed automatic transmission.
This diesel engine and transmission combination is amongst the best in class and even above. They match beautifully to maximise driving efficiency. The engine delivers an almost seamless linear power for the driver and like a lot of things Kia is doing at the moment, it simply works without fuss or complaint.
GT Line models receive their own unique suspension characteristics, tuned to endow the Sportage with sharper, more athletic handling and a slightly firmer ride, crucially without compromising comfort too much.
The Kia AWD system has been around for a while now and is pretty effective. However off road driving is really off limits with a ground clearance of 172mm and low front spoiler etc. Keep the Sportage to some dirt roads and trips to the snow and utilise the AWD as a safety feature and you are driving within the vehicles limits.
Towing with the Sportage is marginal with a 1900kg maximum weight limit but restricted by the 100kg tow ball rating. Small trailers, sea doo trailers etc are the most you can do.
The Sportage has a five-star safety ANCAP rating. Improvements in integral body strength increases not only safety but helps with reducing NVH levels as well.
A total of six airbags are standard, with airbags for driver and front passenger, first row side airbags, and first and second row curtain airbags
Two ISOFIX child-seat tethers and three anchor points are fitted as standard to the second row of seats, to safely secure younger passengers.
Kia’s vehicle stability management (VSM) system helps ensure stability under braking and cornering through careful management of the vehicle’s optional electronic stability control (ESC) and electric motor-driven power steering.
For Australian buyers the GT Line models will come standard with
- autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and
- forward collision warning system (FCWS),
- lane departure warning system (LDWS),
- blind spot detection (BSD) and
- lane change assist (LCA) and
- high beam assist (HBA).
There is also downhill brake control (DBC) and hill start assist (HAC).
- Standard features
- Warranty package
Not So Good Bits:
- Rear seat belt roof attached
- Limited AWD capability
- Interior a little overdone
So to the overall first drive impressions. The fourth generation Sportage is better in all aspects than the previous model and that is saying something.
As a mid-sized AWD SUV it is quiet, smooth to drive, has a quality spacious interior ambiance and enough design to differentiate itself from the mass offerings in the market. Definitely worth a look.
Facts and Figures: Kia Sportage 2.0L CRDi GT-Line
- Engine: 2.0 litre CRDi turbo-diesel four-cylinder 136kW/400Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed auto AWD
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Japan
- Warranty: 7 yrs /Unlimited km
- Price: From $50.496 RDAP