Lifestyle

Bolder and better looking

Designer Peter Schreyer has produced a successful makeover of the Kia Sportage.
Designer Peter Schreyer has produced a successful makeover of the Kia Sportage. Newsdesk Media

THE last time we drove a Kia Sportage we took it along on a short escape to Byron Bay. The weather was balmy, the tunes groovy and the scenic drive was enough to get us into the holiday spirit.

The Sportage itself was a perfect companion with just the right combination of sass and good manners. It dealt well with the winding roads, imperfect surfaces and highway traffic.

Once we got to Byron, it was content to play the delighted tourist. It sparkled in the midday sun outside the pub, provided a great table for a delicious lunch from the Sunday markets, and didn't even run out of puff on the road to Nimbin.

It was content to wait for us as we scrambled up to the lighthouse, survived a dive bomb from gulls with fish and chips boxes in their sights, and didn't blink an eye as we loaded up the boot with purchases from the Stone and Wood brewery.

Yes, all in all, the Sportage had a great time in Byron. We warmed to it too, with cheap plastics and the boxy shape two of the few negatives on our list.

Now the Sportage is back - bigger, bolder and better looking.

Thanks to designer Peter Schreyer, who left his mark on the Audi TT and Volkswagen's revised Beetle, the Sportage barely resembles the one that basked in the Byron sunshine.

The driving dynamics are still noteworthy but the refined shake-up of the exterior has made it a rather promising proposition.

Comfort

Interior comfort has been much improved thanks in part to a longer wheel base, with leg room and head room quite generous despite a sloping roof.

The seats are nicely cushioned with above-average side bolstering adding support. The Platinum model offers leather seats but there was little to be disappointed about in the quality of the fabric pews in our mid-spec SLi. Well designed with contrasting stitching, they contributed to the overall feeling of snazz. The unique driving position - it's almost as if you are surrounded by the console - allows for easy operation of all the bits and bobs. Dash gauges are well lit with useful, uncomplicated information on view.

The back seat could be a tad less upright but fits three with relative ease even if two are in bulky child seats. Cargo room is about right for this class and benefits from the slight increase in rear overhang. Shopping hooks wouldn't go astray.

On the road

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is a worthy soldier driving the Sportage confidently across the front line.

There is plenty of grunt down low with generous torque in the mid-ranges giving the extra oomph needed when overtaking or tackling steep hills. Ride comfort is excellent and there is great feedback from the hydraulic power steering in most conditions.

Engineers spent five months tuning the Sportage to suit Australian conditions, with the suspension geometry, dampers and coil springs set up specifically for our roads and it certainly shows.

Kia's much-vaunted Dynamax all-wheel-drive system sends 100% of the torque to the front wheels in normal driving conditions to help fuel economy but will send some rearward if front-wheel slip is detected.

You also have the choice of "Lock Mode" for better traction on gravel, mud or in slippery conditions. The Dynamax system has a high thermal capacity, which reduces the risk of overheating when driving off road, although it is unlikely the Sportage will leave the bitumen.

What do you get?

Inclusions are generous with dual-zone air-conditioning with automatic climate control, reversing camera, CD player with MP3, USB and iPod connectivity, cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls just some of the standard fare. The Platinum adds leather seats, keyless entry, a start/stop button and groovy LED running lights. Sat nav has just been added. Safety include six airbags, active head restraints, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, Hillstart Assist and Downhill Brake Control.

Running costs

Kia offers figures of 7.5 litres/ 100km for the diesel with the petrol versions more than a litre thirstier. Services and parts are reasonable and the Sportage comes with a five-year unlimited kilometres warranty.

Other contenders

Soft-roaders are a popular choice, with the main competition coming from the Hyundai ix35 ($28,990), Honda CR-V ($35,090), Toyota RAV4 ($33,990), VW Tiguan ($35,990) and Subaru Forester ($34,990).

Practicality

Comfort, performance and pricing combine to make the Sportage a formidable package. It has no delusions of being an off-road hard nut so can concentrate on performing to its strengths.

Visibility out the back window is restricted, making the rear-view-mirror-mounted reverse camera a welcome friend. Sensors across the range wouldn't go amiss either.

Funky factor

Rugged and athletic-looking, the Sportage's low roofline and stylish headlights make an instant impression. The "tiger nose" features a powerful wraparound grille while the sculptured side sill mouldings and pronounced rear add substance to the view. This is a modern, funky-looking vehicle that will draw second glances.

The low-down

The Sportage is a serious reflection of Kia's determination to run with the big boys. It's a surprising find and it is little wonder that there is a five-month waiting list to get your hands on one.

 

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Kia Sportage.

Details: Five-door active all-wheel-drive compact SUV.

Engine: 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 135kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 392Nm between 1800-2500rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic.

Consumption: 7.5 litres/100km combined average.

Bottom line: From $32,490.

Topics:  drive, kia, motoring, road test


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Survivor marks his milestone

EARLY ARRIVAL: Loganlea's Josh Lang marked her 21st birthday with a visit to the Logan Hospital neonatal unit, where he spent his first weeks after being born at 27 weeks gestation. He is pictured with baby Hudson and clinical nurse Helen Hunt, who helped care for him.

TIME to celebrate at Logan Hospital.

New pool gets the nod

NEW LOOK: Work will start soon on the Beenleigh Aquatic Centre redevelopment.

INDOOR pool part of new plan.

Logan youth map out jobs for future

FUTURE DIRECTION: The Youth Job Expo at Logan Metro this week.

THOUSANDS attend Logan expo.

Latest deals and offers

Walk for Tiahleigh Palmer

Mum Cyndi says no-one is safe until her daughter's killer is caught.

Survivor marks his milestone

EARLY ARRIVAL: Loganlea's Josh Lang marked her 21st birthday with a visit to the Logan Hospital neonatal unit, where he spent his first weeks after being born at 27 weeks gestation. He is pictured with baby Hudson and clinical nurse Helen Hunt, who helped care for him.

TIME to celebrate at Logan Hospital.

New pool gets the nod

NEW LOOK: Work will start soon on the Beenleigh Aquatic Centre redevelopment.

INDOOR pool part of new plan.

Logan youth map out jobs for future

FUTURE DIRECTION: The Youth Job Expo at Logan Metro this week.

THOUSANDS attend Logan expo.

Raising profile of rare illness

LIVING LIFE: Sharon Easdale is determined to help others by raising awareness about dystonia.

Raising awareness of dystonia.

Fuel stolen at Woodridge

Can you help police identify this person?

What's on the small screen this week

Keira Maguire and Richie Strahan in a scene from The Bachelor.

SEVEN gears up for the Rio Olympics while The Bachelor continues.

Drowning Pool gig review at Max Watt's

Drowning Pool played Brisbane with A Breach of Silence and She Cries Wolf at the Max Watt's House of Music.

Drowning Pool prove that 'bodies' hit the floor when they play

#SaveMarinaJoyce: How ISIS theory took over youtube channel

One young Youtuber accidentally gave rise to a conspiracy theory

Talking whiskey with Jack Daniel’s master distiller

It all comes down to the distillery

SIXTY MILES AHEAD sign with Eclipse Records, prepare new album 'Insanity'

Sixty Miles Ahead sign with Eclipse. Photo Contributed

Sixty Miles Ahead to release new album on Eclipse

Thy Art Is Murder are killing it

See Thy Art is Murder on their killer tour happening right now. Photo Contributed

We talk with Thy Art is Murder about touring, babies, and new music

Queensland's $1 town goes under the hammer today

The township of Yelarbon is up for sale.

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles