DRIVEN: Kia Sportage 1.6 diesel is an impressive new package

Published May 12, 2023


Johannesburg - With fuel prices constantly fluctuating, mostly increasing and the days of R20 (forget about anything in the teens) a litre a distant memory, South African motorists have had to bear the brunt of various factors beyond their control that has a serious impact on their budget.

For this reason diesel engines continue to be popular locally but they are becoming scarcer, especially with local importers, as global legislation frowns on oil burners no matter how technology has advanced in terms of their CO2 emissions.

For now at least Kia have bucked the trend with the introduction of the CRDi Sportage to complement the 1.6-litre turbo-charged petrol range launched in September last year in the competitive compact and medium SUV segment.

There aren’t many diesel options available in the segment, besides the newly-launched Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI, as well as the Hyundai Tucson 2.0D Elite and the Mazda CX-5 2.2DE AWD Akera.

Kia’s 1.6-litre CRDi engine is good for 100kW and 320Nm, powering the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Kia claims fuel consumption figures of 4.9l/100km, a 0-100km/h sprint time of 11.4 seconds and a top speed of 180km/h.

There are three derivatives with the already very well specced LX, the EX and top of the range GT-Line Plus.

The LX gets LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, four driving modes, cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter, dual-zone climate control, curved 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with reverse camera. The base model also ships with two USB-C rear charging points, front USB charging points, six airbags, Hill Start, Trailer Stability Assist, blind spot collision warning and keyless entry with push-button start.

In addition the EX gains a gloss black front grille, front parking sensors, 18-inch alloys, cloth/artificial leather upholstery, electrically adjustable front seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, remote folding rear seats and rear privacy glass.

On top of the pyramid the GT-Line plus gets a gloss black exterior, deluxe scuff plates, alloy pedals, electric tailgate, gearshift paddles, artificial leather/suede upholstery, lane follow assist and lane keep assist, forward collision avoidance assist, LED interior lighting, panoramic glass sunroof and 19-inch alloys.

As you can see like all Kia’s they’re very well specced throughout the range.

The interior has quality finishes throughout boasting a premier look and feel that combines technology and comfort very well.

It’s clear that the designers have done a lot of work to get the ergonomics just right with integrated curved display, slim touchscreen pad and detailed air vents.

It’s a well-styled SUV too with understated curves in all the right places and when parked it seems to exude an image of confidence.

Also confidence-inspiring is the drive.

There’s a slight give away diesel clatter on start-up but once you drive away there’s really no obvious indication over its petrol siblings, testimony to the refined engine and the Sportage’s sound dampening.

Weighing in at 1.5 tons, it’s not a light car but the engine coped admirably during the short drive in Joburg on launch. The power and gearbox are well matched with smooth shifts no matter what the driver inputs are.

Being a diesel the torque comes in relatively low down, making pottering around load-shed suburbs as stress free as rude fellow motorists allow..

Acceleration is linear rather than quick. It picks up speed with minimal turbo lag and glides easily to the national speed limit with the MacPherson strut type suspension at the front and four-link type set-up at the rear comfortably taking care of all but the harshest road conditions.

Kia’s diesel Sportage is a very welcome addition to the range and segment and will no doubt find favour with South African buyers, it’s the kind of car that you want to load the family in for a comfortable road trip holiday that should return consumption figures very close to what they claim.

It comes with an unlimited kilometre/five-year warranty, inclusive of Roadside Assistance and a pre-paid six-year/90 000 kilometre service plan.

IOL Motoring

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