Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $29,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 122kW/205Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.4 l/100km | tested: 9.2 l/100km
Kia's Sportage Si Premium is a new addition to the range, neatly filling the gap between the $25,990 Sportage Si and the top-spec $34,790 Sportage SLi.
Available purely as an automatic and front-wheel-drive, its a sub-$30k offering (but only just) loaded with some extra features and value.
Inside, if you look around, you'll find a whole lot of things to distinguish the 'Premium' from the base model Si.
Does it succeed? We contend that yes, it does.
- LED daytime running lamps, 17-inch alloys, leather/cloth upholstery, leather-trimmed steering wheel, manual airconditioning, reversing camera, reversing sensors, power windows, cruise control, trip computer
- Infotainment: AM/FM/CD stereo with USB audio input and Bluetooth phone/audio integration
- Luggage capacity: 564 litres minimum, 1353 litres maximum.
What’s new? At first glance, the Sportage Si Premium looks largely the same as the Si. Same basic radio headunit, same instrument panel, same silver-on-black colour scheme (which looks quite nice, incidentally).
Look a little closer though, and you’ll see the reversing camera display in the rear-view mirror, the switch for the auto-on headlamps, the part-pleather, part-cloth upholstery and the driver’s lumbar support adjuster.
What you won’t see, is the new acoustically-insulated windscreen, bush-mounted front subframe and revised driveshaft layout, which all helps to reduce wind noise and vibration.
It’s a nicely-finished cabin (besides the hard plastic shells for the front seat backrest), but we would like to see Kia equip the Sportage with face-level air outlets for back seat passengers.
That aside, there’s good comfort for four adults, or two adults and three kids.
The rear seats offer plenty of leg and footroom plus a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, and the seats themselves are nicely contoured.
A near-flat floor also means the centre seat isn’t robbed of legroom, though there’s not quite enough width for three adults to sit side-by-side.
Kids may find the high shoulderline limits their ability to see out, but adults will appreciate the panoramic view offered by the large rear glass.
ON THE ROAD
- 122kW/205Nm 2.0 litre direct-injected petrol inline four
- 6-speed automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
- Disc brakes
All petrol models in the Sportage range have switched to a new direct-injected 2.0 litre four-cylinder, which produces 122kW of power at 6200rpm, and 205Nm of torque at 4000rpm - 8Nm more than the outgoing port-injected 2.0.
It feels punchy enough in the 1489kg Sportage Si Premium, but the throttle calibration could be softer.
It feels like the engine is tuned to deliver 50 percent of its power within the first inch of accelerator travel, and while that makes it feel responsive, it also translates into a jerky drive in stop-start traffic.
A six-speed automatic is standard on the Si Premium (the base Si is available with either a manual or a cost-optional automatic), and it works well.
Shifts are crisp but not harsh, it doesn’t hunt up hills and it has the right ratio spread to match the engine’s output.
Ride quality is a touch firm owing to the Si Premium’s 17-inch alloys, but it settles down at highway speed and is generally quite car-like in the way it handles.
To drive, the Sportage doesn’t feel like an SUV, it feels like a slightly overgrown hatchback.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 35.1 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, reversing sensors, reversing camera and six airbags (front, front side, full-length curtain) are standard on the Sportage Si Premium.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The medium SUV segment is a competitive one, and the Sportage is not without worthy rivals - especially in the sub-$30k region. Here is just a few.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Sitting right between the entry-level 2WD Si and the AWD SLi, the Sportage Si Premium is right in the sweet spot as far as the price/specification balance is concerned.
It just scrapes in under the $30k barrier, and Kia’s 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped-price servicing scheme puts it in very good stead.
It’s a good car to drive too, and the interior feels smarter than you’d expect for a car that’s marketed as a slightly-upgraded version of the base model.
It’s certainly an easy car to recommend.
We've had a soft spot for the current Sportage since it was launched here, and it remains a good-value buy.
If you’re shopping for a five-seat SUV then the Sportage Si Premium is one for your shortlist.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Sportage Si FWD - petrol manual: $25,990
- Sportage Si FWD - petrol auto - $28,190
- Sportage Si Premium FWD - petrol auto - $29,990
- Sportage SLi 4WD - petrol auto - $34,790
- Sportage SLi 4WD- diesel auto - $37,790
- Sportage Platinum 4WD - petrol auto - $38,390
- Sportage Platinum 4WD - diesel auto - $41,390