By: IOL Motoring Staff
Cape Town - The fourth-generation Kia Sportage, released in South Africa this week, is both longer and visually more forward-biased than its predecessor, giving the impression that it's all set to sprint away and leave its predecessor in the dust.
Certainly its pricing has accelerated: the entry-level two-litre Ignite is still R369 995, but the range-topping 1.6 turbopetrol T-GDI GT-Line AWD will set you back R599 995, compared to R503 995 for the most expensive outgoing model, the two-litre CRDi turbodiesel AWD auto.
But for that you get a slightly longer Sportage - 40mm longer at 4480mm on a 30mm longer wheelbase of 2670mm, with longer front and shorter rear overhang (hence the forward 'tilt'), with a bigger cargo bay (up from 465mm to 503 litres) and a bigger fuel tank (62 litres in place of 58) boasting a range of new engines and transmissions and a completely new, more upmarket interior layout and lots of gizmotronics.
The cabin design lends itself to dual-colour schemes; all black is standard, but two-tone grey or black and beige is available on all but the base model, while the sporty new GT Line Models come with a D-shaped steering wheel and piano black trim and aluminium pedals.
Two USB charging points - one up front and one in the rear – are standard, to keep everybody’s mobile devices amped up on the move; also available is a five-watt wireless charging station at the base of the centre stack, which activates automatically when you put a compatible mobile device it, shows the charge level in the instrument cluster and even warns you if forget it there when you get out.
SX and GT Line variants have a 180mm colour touchscreen with integrated satellite navigation as standard, as well as a rear-view parking camera. Top models also have a ’smart’ key, that unfolds the mirrors, and switches on the interior and door-handle lights when you bring it within 1.7 metres of the car, and opens the power-operated tailgate if you bring it close to the back of the car.
The fourth-generation Sportage has had a number of suspension upgrades aimed at improving the ride without sacrificing handling, starting with revised bushing mounts, stiffer bushings and more robust wheel bearings in front.
The rear sub-frame also gets stiffer mounting bushes while a stiffer rear cross member reduces road noise and vibration in the cabin.
The dampers’ rebound stroke has been lengthened to reduce vibration from corrugated road surfaces, while uprated rear wheel-bearings and stiffer lateral bushings reduce understeer.
GT Line models have a slightly firmer ride for sharper handling, while the electric power steering (across the range) now has a sliding damper on the reduction gear module for quicker responses and more feel around the centre position.
The entry-level Ignite has Kia's familiar two-litre 'Nu' engine, rated for 114kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm, now with continuously variable valve timing and a new variable induction system. It comes as a front-wheel drive model only, with a six-speed manual transmission.
The Sportage EX front wheel drive variant has an uprated version of two-litre 'R' turbodiesel, good for 130kW at 4000rpm and 400Nm from 1750-2750rpm, with lighter internal components and high fuel-injection pressures for improved efficiency. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The SX models, next up, come with Dynamax on-demand all-wheel drive and a choice of diesel or petrol motorvation, either from the same 130kW/400Nm 'R' oil-burner, or from the 2.4-litre, direct-injection 'Theta' petrol four - which isn't new, but is new to the Sportage line-up, bring with it 135kW at 6000rpm and 237Nm 4000rpm, each of which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The new flagship Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT Line, adds to that machine finished alloy rims, quad LED 'ice cube' front fog-lights and bright-metal skid plates front and rear - but more important in the overall scheme of things is its turbocharged direct-injection engine, rated for 130kW at 5500rpm and 265Nm from just off idle at 1500rpm to 4500rpm, driving all four wheels (on demand ) via a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
2.0 Ignite - R369 995
2.0 CRDi EX - R487 995
2.4 GDI SX AWD - R557 995
2.0 CRDi SX AWD - R567 995
1.6 T-GDI GT-Line AWD - R599 995
A panoramic sunroof is available as a R12 500 option on SX models, and is standard on the GT Line model. All Sportages come with a five-year unlimited distance warranty.