Driven - November 2016

Kia Sportage 2.4 SX

In life, there tend to be good things and bad things. A Thai massage is a good thing. 2007 Britney was not a good thing. It goes even further, though, because stemming from this, you get poor imitations of both the good and the bad. Your decrepit great  aunt mangling her arthritic hands into your back is a poor imitation of a Thai massage and, arguably, Miley’s switch from Albany best of both to the short haired wench straddling wrecking ball she is today is a poor imitation of 2007 Ms Spears.

Years ago, before any of us at TheMotorist roamed the earth, cars were pretty straight forward. You could either have a comfy one, a sporty one or an American one (which was none of those things, just plastic) and that was that. Fast forward to modern times where shoes are called ‘Yeezy’s” and Rihanna feels that an assortment of burps constitute lyrics, and we are just spoilt for choice! Almost every major economy produces a vehicle, and you needn’t choose between comfy and sporty because there are these new things they make called crossovers, the purpose of which is to just be as many things as possible, apart from American, while still getting you from A to B with an odd school-run in between. Think of it like this – Air Maxes look like sporting shoes, but were never intended for anything more sporting than a brisk amble and in the same vain, a crossover looks like a 4X4 but can only really negotiate Sandton City and Saxonwold speed-humps.

Up until recently, KIA’s attempt at the Crossover, the Sportage, was a bit of a Miley. It didn’t look as nice as the Japanese or European offerings and had the sexual appeal of your arthritic great  aunt, and while you could get them with a V6 once upon a time, Air-Maxes doth not a sexy geriatric make…

Enter Peter Schreyer – not familiar? His HB pencil can be thanked for a few Volkswagens and Audis, including the original TT and since his arrival at KIA in 2007, they have been making some snazzy looking cars. Couple this with an engineering department who has finally woken up and we arrive at the new KIA Sportage, and it’s lovely.

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Some say it looks a bit like a Porsche Cayenne but there’s nothing wrong with that and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a nicer crossover to sit in. A comfortable but not wallowy ride coupled to an assortment of engines, ranging from asthmatic to pokey and staid to state-of –the –art, there’s a Sportage for everyone. The model we had on the test was the 2.4 SX AWD AT offering a wholesome 135kW and 237Nm of torque. Standard spec is impressive with rear PDC, Bluetooth connectivity, and auto-headlights making notable appearances. Our well-specced SX model came with nice-to-haves, too, such as power-folding side mirrors and a panoramic sunroof large enough to tan under.

Without sounding ridiculous, though, the action of the gear selector imparted a premium feel, something which many of the Sportage’s competitors could learn from and its ride was neither crashy nor nauseatingly soft. The same can be said for the rest of the vehicle which, bar its plastic door handles, is very rapidly approaching the realm of the premium brands.

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To be concise – for the second time in a row now, the KIA Sportage is no longer an imitation of a good thing, but rather an actual good thing and the new one just cements this sentiment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the German three see some serious competition from the Korean two within the next five years.
Ooh, controversy.

Pricing:

2.0 Ignite – R369 995
2.0CRDi EX – R487 995
2.4GDI SX AWD – R557 995
2.0CRDi SX AWD – R567 995
1.6T GT-Line AWD – R599 995
Warranty: 5-years/unlimited km
Service plan: 5-years/ 90 000 km