I recently had the pleasure of driving the Kia Sportage GT-Line from Or Tambo airport to Palala Boutique Game Lodge situated where the Limpopo and Palala Rivers meet, close to the Botswana border. We were heading to a wedding and banked on about a four and a half hour drive. We did not factor in the road works, the cash-in-transit heists, the dirt roads or the torrential downpours. It ended up being more than six hours of driving. With all of that, I still did not turn in to a raging monster (which is known to happen) and I put it down to the Sportage GT-Line. So here are my five reasons why I think it makes for a perfect road trip car.
I need to be able to nap on a road trip. I need to have legroom and I need the seat to not be as stiff as a board. Once it was my turn for a break from driving, I hopped in to the passenger seat, and with the push of one lever I was electrically reclining in to what I call a ‘car-nap’ position. The one where your mouth doesn’t fall open because you are almost lying flat. But it does cause a bit of a drooling! My legs were able to stretch out in front of me or be curled up on the seat. The leather is soft and squishy. These are all things one should look for when looking for a road trip-worthy car.
2. SPACE AND FEATURES
Because it is a fancy pants model it has everything you really need. From Smart entry with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control (so there is no arguing over the temperature), an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, seat heating for front and rear passengers (which came in handy seeing as Gauteng decided to drop in temp to about 17 degrees and pour with rain…while I decided to pack only dresses), to a panoramic sunroof (which I will admit I kept closed, but others would appreciate), a wireless charger (so handy when you’re using your phone for podcasts etc), and cruise control (another road trip must-have).
The boot is spacious and swallowed up our bags, wedding gifts, snacks, wedding outfits and more.
I mentioned the cash-in-transit heist. Well, this happened a few minutes ahead of us and so the road wasn’t closed yet. There was, however, a Toyota Fortuner burning in the middle of the road as well as the armoured car lying on its side, we quickly made the decision to go around the terrifying scene by hopping on to the centre verge which was thankfully grass, but also, with a load of dips and sand. The Sportage sailed through all of it. It meant we didn’t end up on the other side of what a few moments later became a closed highway.
We also had to contend with some insane rain. The gravel roads that lead to the lodge had quickly become rivers. The AWD drive system on the Sportage GT-Line meant we had nothing to worry about. We were following a Toyota Hilux and a couple of Prados and we managed to keep up with no issues whatsoever. It was as if the Sportage was born to be muddy water baby.
It is powered by a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbopetrol engine. It produces 130 kW and 265 Nm. My gauge of whether or not a car is road trip worthy is whether it can overtake on an incline. I am so happy to report that the Sportage GT-Line left me feeling even more impressed with it than I was back at the launch. We sailed past so many trucks with ease. There were no harrowing moments because you knew the engine would deliver.
5. FUEL CONSUMPTION
We managed an average fuel consumption of around 7.8 l/100 km. With the traffic and road blocks etc, I was expecting it to be higher. So I was pleasantly surprised. It also meant that we only made one stop at a fuel station the entire road trip. I hate stopping for anything. I always just want to get to my destination.
The Kia Sportage GT-Line is a car that continues to impress me. And it isn’t even the brand new model we should hopefully see in SA soon. It just makes for such a fantastic everyday car, but also, the perfect road trip companion.