Not to long ago I partook in the World's Longest Test Drive record which was set by KIA Motors SA in the all new KIA Sportage. It was a great idea by KIA for not only launching the all new model of their popular SUV but also to announce it in such style with a world record! I take great pride in knowing that I was one of the test to kick off the mammoth drive around the country and last week I was given one of these great looking vehicles to test for a week. As fate would have it, the Sportage I got on test was the same car I drove during the test drive, I figured it must like me a lot to make it's way back into my life and by the time this post if over, you'd get the feeling that it was mutual.
There are five engines offered in the new KIA Sportage line up, the one I had on test was the range topping 1.6 T-GDi GT Line. Bit odd to have a smaller capacity engine as the range topper but compared to the 2.0l and 2.4, this is the only engine in the line up which is turbocharged. KIA say it is a further refined version of their original 1.6 tubrocharged GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine. It develops 130kW of power and 265Nm of torque. While the engine might be impressive it has to have an equally impressive gear box to suite and KIA stepped up to the plate with their new seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, which ensures smooth, quick gear changes which intern offers the drive quicker acceleration and improves fuel consumption. There are three driving modes, Normal, Eco and Sport. With Eco mode, there was an evident lag in response, especially when taking off, but in Normal and Sport that lag fell away very quickly, knock the gear selector into manual mode and make use of the paddle shifts, then you will forget very very quickly that you are in a SUV! Fuel consumption on it is pretty impressive for a vehicle of it size and weight.
I normally start with this aspect of the car first but that engine deserved to be up first, getting back to the looks department though, KIA got it spot on. During my time with the car, I got a lot of remarks about how it looks like other SUV's but while I do see their points here and there, the new Sportage has it's own unique charm. The prominent big front grille immediately draws your attention to the car, the high elevated, elongated headlamps with clear cover exposing the rawness and individual lamps adds great character to the front end and unique to the 1.6 GT model is the quad LED 'ice cube' front fog lights which complete and compliment the front of the car. The large 19" machined finished alloy wheels are also another unique aspect to the GT and adds to that sportiness of the car. The back end is sleek with the thin long tail lights that wrap around the back and side to enhance the side profile of the car all finished with silver trimmings and twin exhaust.
KIA for me always has this sophisticated and luxury interior that lacked in other Korean manufacturers and that is continued in the Sportage. One would be easily fooled to believe that the it belonged to a German counterpart but that is the quality that KIA gives it's custoemrs. The GT Line comes packed with extras, from the two tone leather electronically adjustable seats, which has both heating and cooling functions. Dual zone climate control for tempreature to suit the drive and his passengers, a large touch screen display with built in navigation, bluetooth telephone and audio streaming and the panoramic glass sun roof to allow you and your passengers to see the world around you as you travel. The ride quality is smooth and comfortable, the handling is superb and while it does feel a bit back heavy around bends it holds well.
With all cars now, having new technology is a must and with the Sportage is does not disappoint. Starting off with the smart key, besides it looking great it really is a smart key. The car detects when you are close by and automatically unlocks the car for you. Quite a party trick when you taking your mates out for a ride around town. Also the key does have a button for the boot, which like many other SUV's opens the boot lid but with the Sportage, when the boot is open you can close it by pressing the button on the remote! I know its hardly revolutoinary but I found it damn cool! And don't worry about chopping anyone in half with it as it gives a significant warning before opening and closing. Other note worthy tech is the bluetooth telephone and audio stream which I did mention earlier but the interface is quite interactive, especially when using internet streaming music services like Apple Music or Deezer where you can skip and change playlists from the screen. While on the subject of phones, the Sportage also offers wireless charging for phones with this capabilities, perfect for when you're on the move!
The new Sportage is bigger than it's predecessor with it being 4480mm in length and 1 855mm in width, it offers both the driver and passengers ample space to sit comfortably. The boot space is plentiful, with 466L for your disposal and when the rear seats are folded down, increases this figure to 1 455L.
The medium size SUV is becoming a popular segment in the car industry at the moment as it offers the best of both worlds to the consumer with a decent enough price. The KIA Sportage does tick most of the boxes in what people would want in this type of vehicle, while it may not be a fully fledged 4x4, the All Wheel drive does give you the opportunity to have fun off rock in certain terrains. The ride quality is great, the features are fantastic and it is a great looking vehicle and while I did enjoy the 1.6 GT very much, I do feel it is a bit pricey one has to consider what it comes with compared to its competitors. Like I said at the beginning of this post, my time with the Sportage has only been a week but it's certainly become a favourite of mine.
1.6 T-GDi GTLine
7 Speed DCT gearbox
265Nm of torque