Car Review: Updated KIA Sportage

We joined KIA in the Cape to check out the updated Sportage line-up…

With a strong heritage, along with a string of design awards and over 5 million units sold globally to date, the Sportage is one of KIA’s most successful nameplates. Now, it has returned to local shores with a new engine line-up and a few subtle cosmetic changes to offer more style and a better driving experience. 

We joined KIA in the Cape to see if its mid-life enhancements (said to increase value and reduce complexity) will continue the success of this popular SUV…

South Africa’s extremely busy SUV segment has a list of vehicles of all shapes and sizes, and when it comes to design, the KIA Sportage has always stood out for me – with its bold, characterful exterior that quickly identifies itself as one of the better looking SUVs on the road. The new Sportage now features subtle revisions to its exterior and interior design. On the outside, a more prominent ‘tiger nose’ grille and new bumper design (to name a few) give the Sportage a somewhat more contemporary look, while it retains its sporty appearance. There is also a selection of new wheel designs as well as a range of colour options.

Inside, the updated Sportage includes just about everything you need from a family-friendly SUV, even in its entry-level model. At its launch, my co-driver and I first hopped into the bottom-of-the-range 1.6 GDI Ignite model, to see what potential buyers can get for KIA’s most affordable model in the Sportage range. A new leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote controls for audio, telephony and cruise control, and a new leather-wrapped gearshift, it’s all there. More of its standard spec includes Bluetooth, electric side mirrors, a centre console armrest with storage and rear park distance control, just to name a few. Probably a stand-out of the Sportage’s interior is that it is one of the more comfortable of SUV cabins I’ve been in, – again, even in its entry-level. It felt spacious enough to imagine happily having the rest of my family in there without any restlessness and discomfort.


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On the road, you can’t expect anything exhilarating to drive from its entry-level model, but with 97kW of power and 161 Nm of torque – it’s all you really need to manage driving around the city and away for the weekends. If it’s power and performance you’re wanting more of, this is where our second test unit comes in…

Also read: Enhanced KIA Sedona debuts in South Africa 

We then jumped into the 2.0 CRDI Ex Plus 8-Speed Automatic variant. Being at the top of the range, of course you can expect more bells and whistles (such as a panoramic sunroof and sporty 19-inch wheels), but it also offers 131 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque, and will remain a popular choice for those shopping in that price range. It’s really lovely to drive, with smooth gear-changes and responsiveness – particularly when you need to accelerate swiftly. Our entry-level model that we’d previously driven felt rather underpowered and ‘pap’ when accelerating uphill, even with a foot flat on the ground, but again, you really can’t be too fussy when it comes to a car that sits eight models down from the range-topping one. The Ex Plus models also get an 8-inch colour navigation system (with Apple CarPlay and a revised camera).

After our day spent with the new Sportage, I’m left feeling as refreshed as its new line-up. While its new 1.6 GDI Ignite offers great bang for buck as an entry-level option, the rest of the range offers something for everyone else.

Pricing and the rest of the range…

All Sportage models ship as standard with KIA’s industry-leading unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty, as well as a standard 5-year/900,000km service plan and 5 years of roadside assistance.

“One of the pioneers in the SUV era, Sportage has been one of KIA’s most popular models in South Africa for close to a decade,” says David Sieff, Marketing Director, KIA Motors South Africa. “The enhanced Sportage range builds on years of success and brings with it even more refinement, more value, and more functionality.”

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

The enhanced KIA Sportage is on sale through all KIA Motors South Africa dealerships.