Kia’s all-new Sportage is going on sale on Friday, and Perrys Motoring Journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, has been examining the fresh model at its official media launch in Nice, France.
There are 18 variants on offer, priced from just £17,995 on the road, headed by the luxurious First Edition model, costing £31,645. All new GT-Line models start at £24,350.
The all-new Kia Sportage brings major advances in fuel efficiency, comfort, connectivity, convenience and safety. The acclaimed styling of a model which sells as much on its looks as on its practicality has been subtly modernised – and every car benefits from a more premium look and feel to the interior.
Under The Bonnet
There are now four engines and three transmissions with the introduction of a 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol unit and a 7DCT (seven-speed dual-clutch automatic) gearbox, both of which are reserved exclusively for the GT-Line. They join extensively re-engineered 1.6-litre GDi petrol and 1.7- and 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines with improved fuel economy and CO2 reductions of up to 29g/km. This means significantly lower company car tax for the Sportage’s loyal legions of business drivers.
The six trim lines are badged 1, 2, 3, 4, GT-Line and First Edition. All versions powered by the 1.6-litre GDi and 1.7-litre CRDi engines are front-wheel drive, while those using the 1.6-litre T-GDi unit and the two 2.0-litre CRDi diesels have all-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive versions are distinguished by the ‘KX’ prefix in the model designation – except for GT-Line and First Edition versions.
Connectivity and advanced driver aids are a pre-requisite in any car these days, and the Sportage will not disappoint on either count. All versions, except the entry-level grade, have a 7- or 8-inch touch-screen satellite navigation system linked to Kia Connected Services with TomTom, providing full European mapping and detailed traffic, speed camera, weather and local services information. Further up the range, Speed Limit Information, Lane Keep Assist, High Beam Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert are available.
All versions of the all-new Sportage are comprehensively equipped and feature an extensive package of comfort, convenience and safety items which becomes progressively more luxurious with every step up the range. Even Grade 1/KX-1 comes as standard with 16-inch alloy wheels and all-round disc brakes, a black diamond-mesh grille, front foglights, LED daytime running lamps, cornering lights, chrome-coated belt-line mouldings and black cloth upholstery. If that’s not enough, electric door mirrors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshifter, electric windows, air conditioning, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, and cruise control with speed limiter are also part of the kit list.
For the first time, GT-Line versions add an even more sporty flourish to the range. The GT-Line sits in the range between grades 2 and 3 and has athletic styling flourishes which mark it out as the most dynamic version of the all-new Sportage. There are exclusive 19-inch alloys, LED rear combination lamps, front parking sensors, heated front and outer rear seats, a 4.2-inch TFT instrument cluster and, with the DCT gearbox, paddle shifters. The standard GT-Line Exterior Styling Pack adds ice-cube LED front foglights, a high-gloss black ‘blade mesh’ grille, dual exhausts, satin chrome belt-line mouldings and door sills and silver front and rear skid plates. The Interior Styling Pack, which is also standard, introduces black leather upholstery with grey inserts, a high-gloss black centre fascia, a black headliner, stainless steel pedals and a D-shaped leather-covered sports steering wheel.
The four engines available in the previous Sportage have been extensively revised to meet EU6 emissions regulations, with the result that they now deliver better fuel economy with lower CO2 emissions. The 1.7-litre CRDi, favoured by more than half of all Sportage buyers, is now more than 7mpg more fuel-efficient in combined mode, while its CO2 output falls by 16g/km. There is a reduction in CO2 of 29g/km for the lower-powered (134bhp) 2.0-litre CRDi engine with automatic transmission, while with the higher-powered (182bhp) version of the same engine with automatic transmission the reduction is 23g/km. The new high-performance T-GDi engine delivers excellent efficiency, with fuel economy of more than 37mpg and CO2 figures of 177g/km (manual) and 175g/km (7DCT).
The fun-to-drive qualities which were a major attraction for buyers of the last Sportage have been honed to an even sharper degree in the new model. This is done through a combination of a much stiffer body shell, extensive suspension revisions and a new steering system. As a result, the Sportage is now even more precise and stable on the UK’s twisty country roads and more comfortable and refined on highways and motorways.
The new Sportage continues the leap forward Kia has been making with quality, with flush-fitting fixtures and trim, soft-to-the-touch materials and luxurious detailing. The dash is horizontal in layout and split into an upper display area containing Thin Film Transistor (TFT) instrument graphics and a 7 or 8-inch colour touch-screen, where fitted. The lower section of the dash is the control area, with large, soft-painted buttons for the heater switches and the audio system. The touch-screen system which is standard from grade 2 upwards means the interior designers have been able to reduce the number of switches.
The front of the cabin is driver-centric, with a pronounced cockpit layout and simple switches grouped according to function. This is not only more ergonomic but also safer because it reduces the amount of time the driver’s gaze needs to be averted from the road. The centre console is angled at 7.2 degrees towards the driver for easier visibility.
Visibility has been further improved by lowering the position of the door mirrors, narrowing their plastic mounts and reducing the thickness of the bottom of the A-pillars. The tailgate glass is also taller and the C-pillars are narrower to expand the rearwards field of vision. The floor has been lowered by 40mm, making entry and access easier and lowering the hip point of occupants. A new organ-type boxed accelerator pedal replaces the previous pendant type for greater comfort.
Seat comfort has also been improved by studious attention to detail with the padding and side support. The pad density of the cushions has been increased, their suspension at the front edge is now fixed, the foam is softer and the spring diameters have been reduced. There are also firmer side supports, which are replicated with the rear backrest bolsters. And a softer pad is fitted to the headrests. High- and low-tensile steel frames reduce the weight of each front seat by 2.5kg and are more effective at absorbing vibrations.
The five-seat cabin is also more spacious, thanks to the increase in wheelbase. Legroom and headroom front and rear is up to 16mm greater, while the boot capacity has risen by 26 litres at 491 litres, or 1,480 litres when they are folded down. The rear seats now fold almost flat, with a barely noticeable eight-degree tilt, while the lift-over height of the boot lip has been lowered by 47mm. The two-position cargo floor leaves space for the luggage cover to be stored beneath it when not in use.
The new Kia Sportage is on sale from February 5, 2016.