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Juliet McGuire

First Drive in the updated Kia Sportage

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love the Kia Sportage. And the Kia brand as a whole! I know this is not a very objective statement, but I don’t care. I have loved the Kia Sportage as long as you have…which is since the third generation launched in 2010. Don’t lie, you did not love it before, no one really did. Because it was the third generation that put Kia on the map, especially here in South Africa. Then the fourth generation landed and it became what David Sieff, Kia Motors South Africa Marketing Director calls, “A Marmite Car.” You either loved the new design or you hated it. I didn’t care what it looked like, I just loved driving it. And nothing has changed for me with this updated version.

There are slight changes to the look, like redesigned front and rear bumpers, a bit of treatment to the ‘tiger nose grill’ and a new taillight design and lighting signature. There are also new alloy wheel designs and a new selection of colours. The interior designs are even more subtle with redesigned air vents and centre fascia as well as a new steering wheel design.

The bigger change comes with the revision of the range which sees the elimination of a few derivatives which is all in line with trying to increase value and reduce complexity.You can say goodbye to the 2.4 GDI and 1.6 T-GDI, but never fear because the 2.0 MPI and 2.0 CRDI have been retained. There is also a new engine in the form of the 1.6 GDI as well as a new eight-speed automatic transmission on all CRDI models.

I hopped in to the 1.6 GDI Ignite first because I wanted to see what the entry level Sportage would be like as it is the one that I would most likely be able to afford. It comes in at R379 995 and features the new 1.6 GDI engine I just mentioned. It puts out 97 kW of power and 161 N.m of torque. It’s only available with a six-speed transmission. This engine is certainly not the one I would choose if I had the cash, purely because it does lack a bit of oomph and under hard acceleration tends to screech just a bit. But then again, I am heavy footed and the 12.1 seconds it would take me to get to 100 km/h is just not quick enough. With that said, the spec is certainly up to scratch. You can expect cruise control, rear parking sensors, a smooth (noticeably smooth!) leather-wrapped steering wheel, six airbags, ABS with EBD, hill start assist, downhill brake control, manual air conditioning, remote central locking, all round electric windows, Bluetooth, and so much more. I mean come on, do you really need much else? I don’t think so. The only noticeable ‘downfall’ is the infotainment screen and that is only because I got to experience the seven-inch infotainment system in the EX trim level.

Kia Sportage

Let’s pretend I am not a motoring journalist and so have money to actually buy a car, I would opt for the 2.0 CRDi EX 8AT which comes in at R509 995, I wouldn’t even need the fancy as f*&% top of the range EX Plus which hits the market at R549 995. Unless you need a sunroof and a wireless charger (I judge you), then the EX will be just fine.

When I say I love this brand, I truly mean it. There is nothing like the breath of fresh air that comes with an honest manufacturer. Kia doesn’t disclose its fuel consumption figures to us because, as they say, what is the point? The conditions of these fuel consumption tests are in no way representative of real life. There are so many things that can determine the fuel consumption, namely the route you drive and the way you drive. In other words, don’t drive like a doos and you should be good. But seriously, there is no point in a claimed number. You’re better of taking the car for a test drive over a weekend to experience it in your world, that will give you a much better indication.

The Kia Sportage is comfortable, quiet, spacious, fully-specced, smooth, and just all kinds of wonderful. If you’re shopping in this segment, you cannot leave the Kia Sportage off of your list of cars to consider. In fact, I think you’d be an idiot to not put it right at the top of that list!

PRICING OF THE UPDATED KIA SPORTAGE

KIA Sportage 1.6 GDI Ignite (6-Speed Auto)                  R379,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-Speed Manual)             R389,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-Speed Auto)                 R403,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI Ignite Plus (8-Speed Auto)       R453,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 EX (6-Speed Auto)                             R459,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX (8-Speed Auto)                   R509,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX AWD (8-Speed Auto)          R536,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 EX Plus (6-Speed Auto)                     R499,995

KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX Plus (8-Speed Auto)           R549,995

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