RATING: 9 STARS
We have written in the past that one of the most under-rated car makers is the Volkswagen Group's Skoda that is produced in Slovakia. Well, you can add another to that list: Kia's Sportage Series II. Yep, that's right a South Korean car built in Eastern Europe and now being sold in Australia. I wonder what the nay-sayers think about that.
Essentially the Sportage Series II is the same as that built in South Korea, but with a few changes that will be welcomed by Sportage buyers. Those changes will keep car spotters busy for a while. Is it a Euro build or from South Korea? The bottom line is pretty simple: the 2013 Sportage was already a great SUV and the Euro version confirms that. The build quality is in the same ballpark: Very good - up there with the Japanese.
Medium size SUV's are invariably purchased by families because of the practicality, economy, room, versatility and high seating position. Also throw in that it's easier on the back when strapping little-uns into their seats or capsules. These assets put the Sportage front and centre for young families - or young couples into a bit of adventure that want a vehicle that will take them through the stage of having a young family.You may also be interested in: Ford Kuga, Mitsubishi ASX, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan.
Sometimes my stubborness really annoys me. Here I am returning from a classic car show in Brisbane on a Sunday afternoon and the Sat/Nav in the Sportage SLi is insisting on taking me every way possible, bar the quickest down the M1. By the time I noticed there were traffic delays on the M1 it was too late, I was part of it. I apologised the Patricia, the girl in the Sat/Nav, for not listening to her, and gave myself a kick in the proverbial backside. Then sat back for 40 minutes of stop/start hell to cover a lousy 10 km.
Out of this exercise I learned that if you have a Suna Sat/Nav to listen to it! I also learned that it is one reason why I would fork out my hard-earned on a Sportage, if I was buying an AWD SUV. This is just one of many aspects of the Sportage that I like. The others are comfort, rear view camera, parking sensors, large cargo area, good size rear pew. Hang on, you say, this bloke is supposed to be talking about the handling and power. Well, that's true. But the world is changing. Power, torque, handling and the like are no longer all that relevant to many buyers, particularly those in the market for a medium or small SUV. Their needs are different, driven by the necessities of life - both practical and technology - above the 0-100 km/h sprint and a top speed that is illegal anywhere in this country. So my opinion of the Kia Sportage SRi CRDi (diesel) is this: It drives very well indeed. Enough power from the 392 Nm oil-burner, smooth transmission and good economy. That's it.
With the introduction of this Euro model Kia dropped the old 2.4 litre petrol engine and now there is a 2.0 litre MPI Theta II petrol in all three Sportage grades - Si, SLi and Platinum while the 2.0 litre turbo diesel that is Euro 5 compliant, is available in the SLi and Platinum grades. Our test vehicle was the turbo diesel in the mid-spec SLi. The engine is mated to a slick 6-speed auto transmission.
No major changes from the Korean-built model, but some nice touches to set the two cars apart. The Euro Sportage gets HID headlamps, static cornering lamps, aero blade front wipers, partial leather trim in the SLi, rear seat warmer, front wiper de-icer and active Eco mode on the diesel auto as tested.
On the rear of the Euro car there's a small badge above the Sportage moniker that states `Series 2' and the rear reflector cluster includes the fog lamps, while the bumper has undergone the slightest of changes. The vehicle is set off - like many Kia vehicles - with the signature Schreyer grille.
The Sli gets a new leather seat stitch pattern and colour, new headrest design, central locking button on both front doors, lockable glove compartment and a digital clock within the audio display. The overall interior feeling is of a soft finish, giving off a warm feeling. The A/C has seven vents, so no matter where you sit hot or cold air is nearby. We like the simplicity of the interior and in particular the two-tiered centre stacker that adds character to the dash face.
The rear seat has a 60/40 split as well as a fold down arm rest when only one or two passengers are in the second row. The seats easily fold flat to take the cargo area from a generous 564 litres to 1353 litres.
Sportage SLi has the full kit of active and passive safety gear including ABS brakes with EBD and BA, Stability control with traction control, hill start assist, reverse parking sensors, reversing camera with guidelines, daytime running lights, dusk sensing headlamps, front and rear fog lamps. The full Sportage range has front and side airbags as well as side curtain airbags.
MODEL RANGE Kia Sportage
2.0 Si petrol 2WD man $25,490
2.0 SLi petrol AWD auto $31,990
2.0 Platinum petrol AWD $36,490
2.0 SLi auto diesel AWD $35,490 (as tested)
2.0 Platinum auto diesel AWD $39,990
(Prices do not include dealer or government charges)
FEATURESABS Brakes: standard
Automatic Transmission: standard
Cruise Control: standard
Dual Front Airbags: standard
Front Side Airbags: standard
Electronic Stability Program: standard
Rear Parking sensors: standard
Reversing Camera: standard
USB/Auxiliary Audio inputs: standard
Steering wheel mounted controls: standard
SPECIFICATIONS (Platinum 2.0 diesel)
ENGINE:Capacity: 1.995 litres
Configuration: in line four
Head Design: 16 valve
Compression Ratio: 16.0:1
Bore/Stroke: 84.0 mm x 90.0 mm
Maximum Power: 135 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 392 Nm @ 1800 - 2500 rpm
DRIVELINE:Driven Wheels: AWD
Manual Transmission: N/A on Platinum
Automatic Transmission: 6-speed
Final Drive Ratio: 3.041
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:Length: 4440 mm
Wheelbase: 2640 mm
Width: 1865 mm
Height: 1645 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1712 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres
Towing Ability: 1600 kg (kg with braked trailer)
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:Front Suspension: MacPherson struts
Rear Suspension: Multi link
Front Brakes: ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: solid disc
PERFORMANCE:0-100 km/h Acceleration: seconds
FUEL CONSUMPTION:Type: diesel
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 7.2 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:Greenhouse Rating: N/A
Air Pollution Rating: N/A
STANDARD WARRANTY:5 years/ unlimited km