2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage Photo: Supplied
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage Photo: Supplied
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage Photo: Supplied
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage Photo: Supplied
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage Photo: Supplied
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage Photo: Supplied
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage
2018 Kia Sportage
Peter McKay | Jul, 11 2018 | 0 Comments

In the rapidly expanding slaughterhouse that is the medium SUV segment, competitors need to bring their best game or be quickly shunned to the bottom of the heap. So it’s proof of the pudding for South Korean makers Kia and Hyundai that have quickly risen near to the top with rapid automotive advancement and value for money.

Kia made a clever strategic move some years ago when it stocked its design department with some talented people from Europe, the resultant stylish new products catching the eyes with a cross-section of buyers young and old that have noticed the car beyond the likes of the class-leading Mazda CX-5 and popular Toyota RAV4.

Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: From $29,990 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 114kW/192Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.8 l/100km 


Kia likes to think its products - all covered with a seven-year unlimited new-vehicle warranty, seven-year capped price servicing and seven-year roadside assist - are hard-nosed common-sense purchases that also have aesthetics, road manners and features to capture hearts.

The refreshed line-up benefits from a welter of additional safety gear; autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning are now standard across the range along with lane keeping.

The styling of fourth-gen Sportage launched here in January 2016 polarised some with critics suggesting it was just too edgy and not sleek enough.  Many loved it though. The obligatory mid-life visual makeover extends to new alloy wheel designs across the Sportage range and styling changes front and rear.  Inside, new cloth trim lifts the cabin look of the lower end grades.

Praised at its introduction, the dark-look Euro-influenced cabin has been lightened up with some pleasing touches.  New multimedia units feature in all grades.  The seven-inch screen in the base model has better hardware  and clarity while the eight-inch touch display in the higher variants benefit from a new unit with faster software, large graphics and excellent response speed.

The GT-Line Sportages are enhanced with a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, high quality piano black fascia and alloy pedals.

The locally tuned suspension has been rejigged too, responding to requests for a more compliant, family friendly ride. The steering has been improved, providing a sharper response and an overall more engaging experience.

Revised Australian-market Sportages come in four trim levels – the base Si, Si Premium, SLi and GT-Line – and a choice of three carryover engines.  These are a 114kW/192Nm 2.0-litre petrol for Si, Si Premium and SLi, a 2.4-litre petrol (135kW and 237Nm) in GT-Line only and a torquey and thrifty 2.0-litre turbodiesel (136kW and 400Nm) available in all grades.

As before, the petrol models are hooked up to a six-speed automatic gearbox.  The 2.0-litre petrol Si, Si Premium and SLi models are front-drive only.  The  2.4-litre GDI petrol in the GT-Line gets Kia’s all-wheel-drive while all diesel models also feature the AWD system but now have the added refinement of the new-to-the-Sportage in-house eight-speed automatic gearbox. The eight speed has effectively reduced diesel consumption from 6.8L/100km to 6.4.

Modest price increases reflect the greater value and new equipment. The improved Sportage starts at $29,990 for the 2.0-litre petrol Si and tops out at $47,690 for the GT-Line diesel.   Two of the new product enhanced models are also available with drive away pricing – the Si Premium Petrol at $31,990 and Si Premium diesel costing $37,390.


The entry-level Si is nicely equipped with practical safety gear including reverse parking sensors, rear view camera with dynamic guidelines, downhill brake control, hill start assist, high beam assist,  six airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters and impact sensing auto door unlocking.

Also standard on the Si is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, remote central locking, six-way adjustable driver’s seat, six-speaker audio, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, power windows front and rear, Bluetooth functionality, and 17-inch alloys with 225/60 R17 tyres.  All Sportage models have a full-size alloy spare and a welter of sensible door bins and bottle holder. Plus a couple of USB points and three 12-volt outlets. And rear-seat air vents.

The Si Premium adds integrated satellite navigation, front parking sensors, LED running lights, 18-inch alloys with 225/55 R18 rubber, digital radio, eight-speaker JBL premium sound system and 10-year Mapcare and SUNA Traffic monitoring.

Step up to the SLi and you have tyre pressure monitoring, smart key with push button start, leather-appointed seats, 10-way driver adjustable seat, LED rear combination lamps, and electronic parking brake.

Topping out the range are GT-Line models which benefit from a sage of convenience gear including blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, eight-way power front passenger seat, intelligent parking assist system, LED fog lights, GT-Line sports pack (bumpers, side sill and grille), panoramic sunroof, flat-bottomed sports wheel with gear-shift paddles, wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, hands-free power tailgate, adaptive cruise control, 19-inch alloys with 245/45 R19 rubber and LED headlights with auto levelling.

The visual changes are restrained, with fog lamp apertures on the Si and Si Premium scoring a more aggressive look and the HID headlamps on the GT-Line replaced with a full LED cluster.

At the rear a revised tail light improves brake light visibility while redesigned rear bumpers and skid plate mark the mid-life schmick-up.


The chunky Sportage looks slightly smaller than the related Hyundai Tucson but is very similar dimensionally inside and out.   Rear knee and head room in the Kia gets ticks (unless you’re a basketballer).

Passenger comfort is excellent, thanks to the supportive sculpting of the seats and the multiple adjustments on offer.  The redesigned cloth seat trim, even on the base cars, is subtly contemporary and smart and promises good wear resistance. The generally dark decor, splashes of pretend alloy, minimal cabin clutter and choices of soft-touch materials and stitching help land an impressive of premium presentation.

The new eight-inch touch screen sourced from LG is beauty, readable at a glance, and large icons to make the touch, scroll and swipe actions a breeze.

Cargo space remains at 466 litres VDA. Flatten the split-fold rear seats and 1455 litres opens up.  Lift-over height for heavy items is just 742mm.


The preference of the majority of private buyers is the six-speed Si Premium 2.0-litre petrol front-wheel drive variant. Though it gets an unassertive 114kW of power and 192Nm of torque to haul 1532kg, its real world performance seems better than that and it doesn’t struggle for breath. 

It certainly offers up enough urge in most situations, especially when the driver ignores Eco and Normal modes in favour of the livelier Sport choice. 

Smooth and quiet, it cruises serenely on most surfaces, only generating a little road noise on those coarser, patchy asphalt roads found in rural areas. The six-speed auto will hunt for gears when climbing hills, but never to the point of aggravation.  Its shifts are silky and nicely timed.

Further work by the Australian team on ride and handling (specifically with the ZF Sachs dampers) and steering has created a satisfying compromise that leaves the Sportage with a slightly more comfortable urban ride without greatly hurting its  sporty roadholding at the national speed limit.

The Kia philosophy on suspension tuning is to always err on the side of good handling with the target of youthful sportiness.

On some challenging rural roads in the hills near Canberra and Yass, the Sportage was on its best behaviour, turning into corners crisply without noticeable shifting of body weight or any front-end “push”.  The quicker steering rack and improved on-centre feel contribute to an overall impression of a very mature dynamic package and more directional command.

A brief run in a common-rail turbo diesel version with the new eight speeder hooked up to all-wheel drive gave Drive a good idea why this powerplant has accounted for more than one-third of Sportage sales.  It pulls delightfully at low revs and offers good traction on gravel surfaces.

But even at idle, the unmistakable diesel sound from up front is more obvious than the petrol engines. Here the Sportage oiler registers 44 decibels compared to 3 7decibels for the petrol engines.



The Sportage certainly measures up as a tough competitor in one of the toughest segments.

It has all the gear expected of a modern family chariot, including friendly dynamics and cabin, reliability, superb warranty, good space, quality build and finish, versatility (with the AWD versions up for some light off-roading), reasonable fuel economy from the petrol versions, and good diesel efficiency.

And, above all, damned good value.

Filed under Kia sportage suv
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