Car Review: 2017 Kia Sportage Si Premium.

Kia’s Sportage is one of the brands oldest nameplates for the Australian market. From its somewhat rough and ready, if competent, beginnings in the 1990s, it’s morphed into a handsome, bluff nosed, popular machine in the mid sized SUV market.
Available in 2017 as a four trim level range, covering Si, Si Premium, SLi, and GT-Line (formerly Platinum), there’s three engines, one transmission, and two or part time all wheel drive options. A Wheel Thing takes the entry level but one 2017 Kia Si Premium front wheel drive home for the week. The cost is $31510 with premium paint (a grey hued colour called Mineral Silver) at $520.Sportage comes with a choice of 2.0L petrol, 2.4L petrol, or 2.0L diesel. Power outputs for the diesel and bigger petrol are just a kilowatt apart, at 136 kW and 135 kW respectively. The Si and Si Premium has the 114 kW 2.0L four (plus the diesel is an option for the Si). Torque wise it’s a steady climb, from 192 Nm, 237 Nm (both at 4000 rpm) and a handy 400 Nm (1750 – 2750 rpm) for the oiler. For the Si, Kia says economy is 10.9L/7.9L/6.1L (per 100 kilometres, urban/combined/highway) from the 62 litre tank. A Wheel Thing’s final figure was 8.4L of unleaded per 100 kilometres in a mainly urban environment. Sizewise it’s well situated in the mid sized SUV bracket, with length at 4480 mm, overall width of 1855 mm, a wheelbase of 2670 mm and a ride height of 172 mm. Spare wheel is a full sized alloy.The sole transmission available is a six speed auto. There’s no paddle shifts available in the Si or Si Premium however there’s the now almost mandatory Sports shift or manual selection via the gear lever. For the most part it’s smooth enough but did exhibit occasional jerkiness and indecision. The auto would also downshift, from sixth to fifth and sometimes fourth under light throttle on slight slopes. On bigger slopes such as the Great Western Highway’s climb up from the river plain, it’s expected it would drop back, and did so easily, plus would hold that gear with only the throttle responsible for rev changes. In normal driving upshifts were slick, quiet, however light throttle on a cold engine seemed to have the cold also annoying the transmission’s electronics, with the hesitancy and judder found in older style autos.Give the Si Premium a solid push on the go pedal and it does drop back easily, as mentioned. What you’ll also get is the mechanical keen from the 2.0L as it winds its way rapidly through the rev range. The 114 kilowatts comes in at 6200 rpm and the engine certainly gives no sign it’ll struggle to reach those numbers. Acceleration is decent enough however there’s a sense that more could be on offer but doesn’t reach the front driven 225/55/18 rubber from Nexen. The 1560 kilogram kerb weight may be one reason. Braking is good, with the 305 mm vented fronts and 302 mm solid rears responding quickly and effectively every time the beautifully balancedand communicative brake pedal is pushed.The McPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension tie the Sportage down well. Although it theoretically could do some soft roading, tarmac is its natural friend and the two go well together. There’s a sense of balance in the way the Si Premium handles itself, with the tight corners for the Old Bathurst Road that snakes its way up from Penrith in Sydney’s west despatched as easily as the dips and undulations on the freeway system that rings the western parts of Sydney. Kia’s engineers spend a lot of time refining the spring and damper settings for Australian spec roads and it shows.

The Sportage is rarely fussed about the road surface, is quiet on all but the coarsest chip surfaces, and seat of the pants feedback tells you that even in quick sideways movement that it’s as composed as if it were standing still. The steering is quick at about 3.5 turns lock to lock, light in Normal mode, not much difference noticeably in Eco and feels a bit heavier, with more feedback in Sports, to round out the driving package. It helps move the Sportage from lane to lane quickly and without a sense of mass shifting direction, making for an almost sporting car drive.Apart from the tyre and wheel size between the Si and Si Premium (225/60/17 for Si), there’s also front parking sensors and electro-chromatic rear vision mirror to differentiate. The Premium also picks up LED DRLs, rain sensing wipers, driver AND front passenger Auto up/down window switches, dual zone climate control, Auto defog system, and illuminated vanity mirrors. Seat trim is a black and charcoal grey weave for the cloth with the front pews manually adjusted for height and seat back angle via levers. The rear seats fold down flat via side mounted levers and provide up to 1455 litres of cargo space, up from 460L with the seats up.The black plastics throughout the cabin have a warm texture to them, with a sweep around the bottom of the windscreen not unlike a new Jaguar. The steering wheel hub has the same feel whilst the smoother plastics are that almost suede feel to the matt fiished buttons and suurounds. The seven inch colour touchscreen, which features satnav, another item the Si alone doesn’t get, sits between the central air vents and there’s an alloy look to the surrounds. There’s bottle holders in all doors, cup/bottle holders in the centre console and a small storage locker in the console as well. The driver’s dial binnacle houses a 3.5 inch monochrome screen with information such as trip, fuel economy, service status, accessed via tabs on the steering wheel. There’s plenty of rear seat leg room, even with the front seats pushed back and enough for most front seat passengers when that seat’s pushed forward. All over and around, it’s typically high quality Kia.The touchscreen has a pseudo radio “dial look”, good quality sound, Bluetooth and Auxiliary/USB campatible, but notably no CD slot. In place of that is voice activated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. When in Reverse, the camera provides a clear enough picture but it’s not as clear and sharply defined as others available. There’s also a pair of 12V sockets at the front of the centre console and one at the rear, allowing for extra USB ports if needed. Aircon controls are simple to use, clean to look at, and the Synch button lights up when it’s a mono zone control, meaning temperature adjustment is for both right and left seats.Outside, the Sportage is stubby tailed, long bonneted, with a steeply raked windscreenbehind Kia’s signature Schreyer grille, and rear window, with a thickish C pillar and profile that reminds one of the original Sportage. The update in 2016 lost the angular and sloped headlights, changing them to an insert style that flows from the more upright nose back along the bonnet shut line. The Sportage designers may have taken inspiration from a classic sci-fi film for the design of the inner headlights, with the look not unlike at all the tri-lensed aliens from War Of The Worlds. The front bumper also has inserts for the globe lit daytime driving lights in each corner, matching the height of the rear’s indicator cluster located low in the rear bumper, not higher up inside the rear light cluster, a staple of the Sportage design.Naturally there’s plenty of safety on board in the form of six airbags, traction control, DBC or Downhill Brake Control and HAC (Hill start Assist Control). Only the GT-Line gets Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Forward Collision Warning System, and Lane Departure Warning System. Servicing is yearly or 15000 kilometres plus capped at a cost of around $2756 over the seven years.

At The End Of The Drive.
Kia Sportage range stands up to be counted in a very crowded market. It’s a car that’s full of class and oozes plenty of style. Consider sibling Tucson from Hyundai, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Renault’s brilliant Koleos, VW Tiguan and you get the idea of what it’s up against. With a strong list of standard equipment, a free revving petrol engine (and the diesel’s pretty damned good), a comfortable drive, and that seven year warranty, it acquits itself with dignity and poise. Kia’s 2017 Sportage range deserves to be on your radar when looking out for a new mid sized SUV.
For specifications and more, head over to :Kia Australia’s website and Sportage

Car Review: 2016 Kia Sportage S petrol

2016 Kia Sportage S front quarterKia’s Sportage is a car that has been with us for over twenty years. Yes, hard to believe. Alweays a solid performer for the Korean company, it’s recently had a makeover, both inside and out and it’s part of Kia’s continued push to be a brand that is consistently best in class. A Wheel Thing takes on the Kia Sportage S with petrol engine to find out if that’s the case.2016 Kia Sportage S rear quarterThe reskin has given the Sportage’s rear a nip’n’tuck for the tail lights, however it’s a full on rhinoplasty at the front. The nose is more upright, the headlghts are laid back further into the top of the guards, and the “tiger nose” grille is much larger. It’s not a design that sits well with some, but you don’t drive a car sitting outside. What you do get inside the Sportage is a revamped interior.2016 Kia Sportage S front seatsAnd what an interior it is; leather look stitched material covering the dash, higher quality look and feel to the plastics and trim (silver metallic panelling in the console and vent trim), a softer touch to the console tabs, and a redesign for the touchscreen. 2016 Kia Sportage S dashThere’s a leather look to the manually operated seats, with cloth inserts for the S, plenty of cargo space (466/1455 litres, seats up/folded), full sized spare, twin 12V sockets for the rear seat passengers, Bluetooth, and driver’s window auto up/down. If there’s a quibble, it’s the A pillar mounted tweeters for the sound system fire straight across the front window, rather than at an angle suitable for the front seats.2016 Kia Sportage S rear cargoThe Si rolls on a 2670 mm wheelbase and comes shod with 225/60/17 Hankook Kinergy GT rubber wrapping ten spoke alloys. It’s a compact design, with an overall length of just 4480 mm. Standing 1645 mm tall (sans roof rails) and 1855 mm in width, it offers up plenty of room inside the 1500 kg frame.2016 Kia Sportage S engineUp front it’s a surprisingly zippy 2.0L petrol engine, with a six speed auto as standard. Peak power and twist are a leisurely 114 kilowatts (6200 rpm) and 192 torques (4000 revs). The Si is 2WD, through the front wheels, sipping from a 62 litre tank. Kia quotes 10.9 L/100 km for the urban cycle which drops to 6.1 L/100 km for the highway. A Wheel Thing ended with an average of 8.2L/100, just over Kia’s figure for a combined cycle of 7.9L/100 km.2016 Kia Sportage S wheelAlthough it’s a high revver, like all smallish petrol engines, there’s enough torque below the peak figure to see the tacho swing round nicely when pushed, providing a seat of the pants feeling of briskness. The transmission is a gem, barely notceable in the change under all driving situations, with the flicker of the tacho needle in normal driving about the only indication of a change. There’s a slight improvement in smoothness using the manual shift option but, really, not enough to give it more than a passing thought.2016 Kia Sportage S rear centre consoleDrivewise, the surprise continues, with that 192 Nm seemingly delivered a lot lower. There’s enough urge to chirp the front tyres on dry tarmac, with some hint of torque steer, yet is quickly controlled with a slight lift off. What’s impressive is the lack of intrusion from the traction control, allowing the Si to show some verve and character.2016 Kia Sportage S rear seatsThe ride quality shows off the engineering work the Korean company does with the Australian arm; across all surfaces it’s smooth, plush, compliant, grippy. The revamped damper and rerated suspension work a treat, with the sharper edged metal speed bumps in shopping centres flattened out, undulations ignored and the usual irregularities dispatched with ease. It’s quiet, too, with road and wind noise failing to invade the cabin, allowing the occupants a normal level of conversation.2016 Kia Sportage S profileAs always, there’s Kia’s fixed priced service and seven year warranty. There’s, in the Si, Downhill Brake Control, Hill Start Assist, the Euro style Emergency Stop Signal, rear (but no front) parking sensors, reverse camera with parking guidelines, but misses out of Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning System.

At The End Of The Drive.
Priced from just under $32800, the S is good value but needs to be seen against its sibling, the Hyundai Tucson, plus Mitsubishi’s aging ASX, Holden’s Captiva and Ford’s Kuga, plus Toyota’s RAV4 and Mazda’s CX5 for value. It’s certainly more than worthy of consideration against Toyota’s evergreen RAV4 and Mazda’s more recent challenger. Where it does well is in the cabin ambience, the ride and build quality, but not quite so in around town fuel economy and the exterior looks are subjective.
Click here:2016 Kia Sportage range for info about the new entry from Kia into the mid sized SUV sector.