Friday, March 9, 2018

Bucket Seat: KIA Sportage

The KIA Sportage will also be a special car for me, I helped in it achieving the worlds longest test drive which begun in Durban, went around the country and eventually ended at Cape Point in the Western Cape. At launch there were only a few models that were available in SA and since then KIA have broadened the choice in terms of engines and offerings in the Sportage range. A couple of weeks ago I had one of them and decided to take a drive up to Joburg, hence this post will be a bit different as its more about the journey with the car rather than a test. I called a few mates, to see if they would join, I mean whats the point of having an SUV and going on a road trip alone? So once we were all packed up, it was time to hit the road on, 600 kilometers of open road (okay I lie, truck laden) lied ahead of us, and it was time to see what this this KIA was like on a long distance trip. 

From our first post with the Sportage GT Line, we've established that its a great looking car. It may be a bit different from the rest of the KIA line up but as an SUV, it's got great lines, bulk in all the right places and a rear that will have you go for a second glance. Moving onto the inside, everything is well laid out and easy to reach. Spending +/- 6 hours in a cabin of a car can be frustrating for some, with many stops needed to "break the journey" but with the Sportage, I hardly felt the need to pull over, other than the odd bathroom break and stop for food. It could quite possibly go straight to my destination with it. It has all the creature comforts that we've become used to in the ever evolving motor industry. 

Things like bluetooth connectivity was a luxury option but I'm glad to see that in most cars that it is now a standard, and brands like KIA have to be commended for pushing this change, where they offered it as standard from the get go but with most of the bigger European luxury manufacturers still had it as optional extras. The next phase shift is definitely mobile phone integration. Not only for in car mobile applications like Android Auto or Apple Car Play but for general safety of the driver. It's becoming a common site seeing people driving and holding their phones, this not only puts them at risk of an accident but the people around them too. On the subject of mobile phones, when it comes to long trips, passengers no longer grab a book or magazine to read on the journey, they're on their phones, which decreases battery life, and hence the need to charge the phone. In the Sportage, there was ample sockets, both in the front and the back to plug in your mobile chargers , that meant no fighting for turns and kept everyone happy. 

The car itself, on the road felt pretty solid, the 2.0L engine under the hood did a great job both on the up and the down leg of the journey by giving me great fuel economy of just around 10L per 100km going up and just 8,7L per 100km coming down. Being a big SUV, it was quite a cruiser but I did feel the car lacked a bit of punch when you tried to accelerate to over-take. Cruise control isn't something I would use often but on the Sportage and especially the long tedious Villiers stretch of the N3, it was needed. Simple and easy to set, the car did all the work, the gear changes were on point and when needed, not like many other cars cruise control where the car just changes gear for any damn reason. This also contributed to the good fuel economy. 

Moving back to the creature comforts, while we did get quite a bit of cabin noise, this was soon eliminated once we turned up the sound system. The Sportage comes with a sub in the back, so while you're getting clear audio up front, that nice bass boost coming from the back never hurts. The dual climate control was a live saver, as with most people, everyone's preferred temperature varies, as I soon found out shortly after departing as one of my passengers like weather indicative of the ice age... so while it was practically snowing on his side, my side was just right. 

Overall, the Sportage ticket all the right boxes for a long journey, it had ample amount of space, great fuel economy, well powered naturally aspirated engine and of course, all the tech to make any nerd happy. The nice big touch screen came in handy for their GPS, where I got lost a few times in Joburg. In short, the KIA Sportage was simply brilliant for what I needed it for, it's the perfect family car for any small family, loads of space, plenty of power for city roaming and open road driving, the tech that the car comes with great for everything you require of it

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