What is it?
NEARLY half of all vehicles sold in Australia these days are SUVs, with almost every brand well represented in the competitive market.
Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t like them, describing them as so alike “it’s like reviewing a fish finger or a milk bottle.”
“They have an engine, windows and a heater, so they keep out the weather and move you around. The end.”
Ah, well, that’s Jeremy, a bit of a UK motoring legend who spends most of his time driving squillion-buck sports cars.
However, it shows he hasn’t ever driven a Kia Sportage.
The just-facelifted Korean cutie does a heck of a lot more than keep the weather out and move you around.
And, unlike any of the exotics Clarkson punts around, the Kia comes with a lot of space, comfort and a 7-year warranty his favoured machines can only dream about.
What’s it cost?
Sportages can be had in several models, petrol or diesel, manual or auto, ranging in price from $28,990 to $48,490 for the top-ranking all-wheel-drive GT-Line diesel.
That’s the one we’re looking at here, a fully-featured vehicle that you don’t have to spend another dollar on.
For starters, it’s a visual stand-out, with subtle styling updates that make it look like Taylor Swift on (19-inch) wheels.
Inside, there’s a neat, functional dash with dual-zone climate control and rear air vents, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with satnav and live traffic monitoring, a decade of Mapcare updates, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless phone charging and an eight-speaker premium audio system with DAB radio.
For comfort, the heated and ventilated front seats, with leather trim and contrast stitching, are powered: eight-way for the front passenger and 10 ways for the driver.
There’s a vast panoramic sunroof, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, park assist, auto-levelling LED headlights and the steering wheel is a sporty flat-bottomed one with paddle shifters.
The entire interior has a two-tone colour finish.
The safety bits are a given, with every driver aid and autonomous emergency thingo you can think of, the important ones to my mind being the great rear camera with rear cross-traffic alert and bird’s eye view.
What’s it go like?
The GT-Line’s diesel motor is a carry-over from last year, the four-cylinder 2.0-litre producing 136kW and 400Nm, which drives all four wheels via an 8-speed auto box.
It’s a quiet motor, as befits a classy car and it has more than enough muscle for any occasion.
It can shoot the 1700kg vehicle to 100km/h in better than 10 seconds, and highway cruising is virtually effortless.
It sits well on the road, with good road manners and a planted, confident ride.
The suspension, already set up for Australian roads, has been finessed for an even better ride and it deals with horrors such as speed humps and potholes, with disdain, although those big wheels translate to a firm Euro-style ride.
So passengers get a quiet, comfortable ride and those in the back have plenty of room for their feet, legs, shoulders and heads, and they can plug their electronic fads de jour in the USB points and 12V outlets.
The second row, by the way, can be reclined or folded 60:40.
Cargo space is 466litres, but zap down the back row and you liberate a lot more space, making a total of 1455litres. There are tie-down points and luggage hooks too, so whatever you’ve bought from Bunnings will still be in the same place by the time you get home.
If you’re thinking of going offroad, you can, provided it’s not on terrain that needs low ratios.
The 8-speed auto gearbox is excellent, and drivers who do manage to get stuck in muddy waters can activate AWD Lock mode via a console switch, which should get you away from the crocs.
For more sane driving, you can choose between Normal, Eco or Sport drive modes.
Also, there’s a full-size spare wheel under the cargo floor, should you have the misfortune to get a puncture.
Interesting that punctures used to be common in years gone by. I recall changing wheels at least once a month in ‘them good ol’ days.’
Nowadays, they’re rare occurrences, which speaks well of tyre development. Don’t think I’ve had a flat wheel in the past decade, maybe more.
Official fuel consumption is a pie-in-the-sky 6.4litres/100km, but we were happy with our average of 8.2.
What we like?
- Smooth ride
- Excellent comfort, visibility
- Zippy turbo diesel
- Excellent transmission
- Loads of fine features
- Beautiful appearance
What we don’t like?
- Still looking
The bottom line?
Forget Jeremy’s jibes. If you need a medium-sized SUV, the Sportage GT-Line should definitely be on your shortlist. Good luck checking out its 20 other rivals.
CHECKOUT: Hey, Kia! What about a ute?
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Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel auto, priced from $48,490
- Looks - 8.5/108.5/10
- Performance - 8/108/10
- Safety - 8/108/10
- Thirst - 8/108/10
- Practicality - 8/108/10
- Comfort - 8/108/10
- Tech - 8/108/10
- Value - 8.5/108.5/10