By: Jason Woosey
Magaliesburg, Gauteng - With its crisp and athletic Peter Schreyer design that's made some waves in the crossover world, it's not surprising that the latest Kia Sportage has gone on to become one of Kia's best sellers since it hit the scene back in 2010.
Kia's answer to this is an upgraded 2014 Sportage, although most will find it difficult to spot the re-moulded front grille along with the changes to the lower front bumper and re-designed rear combination lamps. Oh yes, and there's a new range of 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels to round off the changes. Clearly Mr Schreyer has taken a "why fix what ain't broke" approach to the exterior.
Subtle changes abound inside, where new materials throughout the cabin lend a more sophisticated look and feel, as does the new 4.3-inch TFT LCD touch-screen that incorporates a rear-view camera. Furthermore, the AWD model gains a snazzy new Infinity audio system complete with a sub woofer, amplifier and hard drive.
Not that the Sportage is trying to drown anything out as improvements to the body structure and the addition of a soundproof windscreen actually reduce overall road noise by between 1.0 and 4.0 dB.
The only powertrain changes take place in the petrol model where a new 2.0 CVVT engine offers a smoother experience at the cost of some power, with outputs having been reduced from 122kW and 197Nm to 116kW/192Nm. On the upside, the previous five-speed manual gearbox makes way for a six-speeder.
The 130kW/382Nm 2-litre VGT CRDi turbodiesel engine continues unchanged and this was the only version available to test drive during the vehicle's Gauteng launch earlier this week.
Nonetheless, it served as a reminder of just how punchy and flexible this oil burner really is. The drive also highlighted the vehicle's quiet and composed nature on the open road, its compliant ride and feeling of stability through corners. I was also impressed by the solid and durable feel of the cabin.
The latest Sportage is still a prime contender in the compact crossover class. Yet it's no longer the instant class leader, given the high level of new competition that's entered the field recently.
2.0 2WD Ignite - R309 995
2.0 2WD (mid) - R336 995
2.0 2WD AT (mid) - R348 995
2.0 AWD (high) - R371 995
2.0 AWD AT (high) - R383 995
2.0 CRDi 2WD (mid) - R361 995
2.0 CRDI 2WD AT (mid) - R373 995
2.0 CRDI AWD (high) - R396 995
2.0 CRDI AWD AT (high) - R408 995
Included is a five-year/150 000km warranty and a service plan valid for the same period.