Review and Pictures by Daniel Fernandez
Kia’s stylish Sportage crossover, now appears in an all-new, 4th generation Germanic looking design bringing major advances in fuel efficiency, comfort, connectivity, convenience and safety. The styling of this Sportage is very European and this is probably why it is selling so very well in Europe.
Kia in Malaysia has introduced the Sportage in this new GT-Line versions. First came the 2.0L petrol version which we have tested and liked and now comes a diesel variant which we are quite excited about. Let us explain.
This 2.0L diesel powered Sportage at RM154,568 sits in a very competitive market segment. Malaysians are buying more SUVs than ever before. You have so much choice that picking the SUV for your garage has become a real chore. Just this last 3 months, market leader Honda introduced a new CR-V from RM142,400 for the 2.0L and RM155,700 for the 1.5L Turbo.
Mitsubishi was next with its local assembled 2.0L Outlander SUV at RM139,888.00 and this is a 7-seat SUV. Mazda’s all new CX-5 was next at RM134,205 for the 2.0L SKYACTIV petrol and RM163,179 for their latest SKYACTIV diesel powered CX-5.
Lets not forget Kia’s immediate sibling, the Hyundai Tucson which has been in the market for a year but now with a rivaling diesel engine on sale. This SUV sells for RM155,788 which is just a smidgen more than this Sportage.
Then there is still a number of other slightly older favorites in this segment like the Subaru Forester (which is already 1-year in the market and selling well with a turbo and non turbo variant)), Nissan X-Trail (which is the oldest in this segment right now and has 7 seats) and Volkswagen Tiguan (which comes with good features but a troubled past in after-sales and reliability).
Within this mix sits a rather surprising competitor, the Renault Koleos. With a 2.5L petrol engine and offered in either 4×2 for just RM172,800 or al full time 4×4 for RM201,800, this is European styling with Japanese engineering sitting right at the top of the segment.
The diesel stigma still runs deep with many Malaysian car buyers with smoky older diesel vehicles still running on our roads. Then there is the diesel clatter from the engine bay. All this can be laid to rest now as we have high quality Euro 5 diesel available with all the brands today and the best Euro 5 diesel can be obtained at BHPetrol stations nationwide. So bye bye to smoky exhausts and bye bye to diesel clatter.
So…..how does this Sportage Diesel sizeup?
We have to start with the looks as all the rivals in this segment are almost equal in features, safety and ability. So looks counts in attracting buyers into the showroom and then the test drive.
GT-Line, a dynamic and sporty appearance
This new Sportage has an almost sports car-like ratio between sheet metal and glass, with narrow side windows, deeply sculpted sides and bold wheel arches. Sleek and rakish, the Sportage successfully incorporates the key features of an SUV in an urban-friendly, athletic and muscular package. The new Kia Sportage is 40mm longer than its predecessor, with a 30mm greater wheelbase but unchanged width and height – dimensions which make it look even more lithe and sporty while lowering its co-efficient of drag (Cd) from 0.35 to 0.33. Every small reduction in drag helps to lower fuel consumption and emissions at speed.
The front is dominated by a wide interpretation of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ main grille with a chromed surround and either black diamond or high-gloss black diamond mesh. At the sides, the bonnet sweeps up to cover the elongated headlamps which extend along the sides. LED daytime running lamps are standard. The steep windscreen angle sweeps seamlessly into the low roofline. The top edge of the windscreen is again castellated, which is becoming something of a Sportage hallmark.
The increased overall length, extended wheelbase and shorter rear overhang give the all-new Sportage an even more sporty profile than its award-winning predecessor.
There is a more chiselled and voluminous look to the rear of the all-new Sportage, which features a mixture of concave and convex surfaces and horizontal lines which emphasise its wide and stable stance.
The all-new Kia Sportage continues the leap forward Kia has been making with actual and perceived quality, with flush-fitting fixtures and trim, soft-to-the-touch materials and luxurious detailing. The dash is horizontal in layout and split into an upper display area containing the Thin Film Transistor instrument graphics and a colour touch-screen.
The front of the cabin is driver-centric, with a pronounced cockpit layout and simple switches grouped according to function. This is not only more ergonomic but also safer because it reduces the amount of time the driver’s gaze needs to be averted from the road. The centre console is angled at 7.2 degrees towards the driver for easier visibility.
Seat comfort has also been improved with better padding and side support and a softer pad is fitted to the headrests for added comfort. The five-seat cabin is more spacious thanks to the increase in wheelbase. Legroom and headroom front and rear is up to 16mm greater, while the boot capacity, with the spare tyre in place, has risen by 26 litres (all seats in use) at 491 litres, or 1,480 litres when they are folded down. The rear seats now fold almost flat, with a barely noticeable eight-degree tilt, while the lift-over height of the boot lip has been lowered by 47mm. The two-position cargo floor leaves space for the luggage cover to be stored beneath it when not in use.
Diesel Drive Dynamics
Drivability with this 2.0-litre diesel is impressive which now have more torque across a wider rev range. With 185bhp and 400Nm this Sportage can haul ass quick….really quick especially in its mid-range.
Intelligent all-wheel-drive delivers 100% of engine torque to the front wheels, but this can be redistributed up to a maximum of 60:40 front-to-rear to enhance cornering stability or if road conditions deteriorate. For off-road driving, owners can manually select lock mode (with a simple button on the center near the gear-shifter), which gives a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph. The system is now linked to Advanced Traction Cornering Control, which monitors road speed, throttle input and steering angle and distributes torque between the left and right wheels to maximise cornering stability.
A number of other electronic features increase safety for on-road driving and the car’s capability off-road or in areas where bad weather and poor driving conditions are facts of daily life.
Improved driving dynamics, comfort and safety
The fun-to-drive qualities was a priority for Kia drivetrain engineers for this 4th generation Sportage. The handling of this SUV has been honed to an even sharper degree through a combination of a much stiffer body shell, extensive suspension revisions and a new steering system. As a result, the Sportage is now even more precise and stable on our twisty kampung roads and more comfortable and refined on our many tolled highways. In city traffic it is quiet and very comfortable.
The suspension features MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. The front and rear suspension systems are mounted on lightweight hydro-formed subframes that help to isolate occupants from irregularities on our forever potholed and patched roads and this combination also reduces surface-generated noise.
This Kia Sportage has an all-disc, anti-lock braking system (ventilated at the front and solid at the rear), backed up by Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BAS). EBD apportions the stopping power to the wheels with most grip while BAS ensures maximum braking power in an emergency regardless of the force exerted on the pedal by the driver. A number of advanced driver assistance systems are now offered on the Sportage for the first time, all designed to minimise the possibility of an accident. There are also 6-airbags to keep passengers safe in an unwanted incident.
Decision, Decision Decision.
The decision to purchase is difficult seeing as Kia’s sibling, Hyundai also has a similar vehicle on sale. The Hyundai Tucson diesel is also in showrooms now and offers almost apple to apple features and almost 99% drive dynamics from a shared drivetrain. The Tucson diesel sells for RM155,788, this Sportage diesel sells for RM154,568.99 and the only other diesel alternative is the Mazda CX-5 diesel which sells for RM163,179. The decision for a diesel SUV has just become more interesting for Malaysian buyers and the final decision sits with you.
Kia Sportage GT-Line 2.0 CRDi VGT Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder Diesel Turbo
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Max Power: 185PS @ 4000rpm
Max Torque: 400Nm @ 1750-2750rpm
Top Speed: NA