Kia Sportage Platinum new car review

2 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Kia Sportage Platinum new car review
Kia Sportage

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Strong diesel performance

Functional interior

Well equipped


Slightly cramped rear seat

Uninspiring handling

Plain interior

When a car manufacturer reaches for the scalpel and Botox to give one of its models a mid-life facelift, the results can range from dramatically different to barely noticeable.

And while the latest update to the #160;Kia #160; Sportage probably falls into the latter category, there is one big difference between it and the car that#8217;s been around since 2010. Instead of being made in South Korea the facelifted model now comes from Europe; well, it is built in Kia’s Slovakian plant which is a reasonable distance east of Paris, but makes the Sportage European nonetheless.

So what#8217;s it mean for Kia#8217;s smallest SUV and longest running model name, in fact, one that won its Drive COTY category back in 2010? A slightly altered look, some differences in equipment levels, but basically the same attractively priced and user-friendly SUV as before, provided overall size isn#8217;t an important buying decision.

What do you get?

We#8217;ve tested the top-of-the-range Platinum version of the Sportage with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, six-speed automatic transmission and 4WD. There#8217;s also a 2.0-litre petrol (taking the place of the previous 2.4-litre unit) but no other drivetrain options.

If you want to go cheaper than the Platinum#8217;s fairly hefty $39,990 price tag the range starts with the 2WD petrol Si with a five-speed manual at $25,490, and the SLi in-betweener starts at $31,990 for the petrol version.

The Platinum gets a gold-plated standard equipment list including leather seats, a big sunroof, satellite navigation with a seven-inch touchscreen, a rear view camera, and HID headlamps.

They go with the general upgrade across the range that have a distinctly European flavour, including rear fog lights, a heated rear seat, de-icing wipers and an ECO driving mode on the diesel auto.

What#8217;s inside?

Other upgrades include some pretty minor stuff such as more soft-touch materials inside along with a lockable glovebox and a re-jig of the air conditioning vent modes.

The main thing is that while far from stylish inside #8211; there are simply acres of grey plastic, with some piano-black trim around the ventilation controls #8211; the interior has a no-nonsense practicality about it. Instruments are plainly legible white-on-black, the touchscreen display is easy to use, there#8217;s plenty of storage and it all seems well bolted together.

The rear seat seems roomy, but with the doors curving inwards at the top there#8217;s limited shoulder room, and head space is marginal. The luggage compartment is as spacious as could be expected from a 4.4-metre long SUV but the loading height is some way off the ground, thanks partly to a massive, full-sized 18-inch alloy wheel under the floor.

Under the bonnet

The Sportage shares its platform and mechanicals with#160; the more blingy Hyundai ix35 . so it’s no surprise to find the excellent 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine doing as good a job as ever.

Kia Sportage

With a peak 135kW of power on tap and a grinding 392Nm of torque (or pulling power) from as low as 1800rpm it does a commendable job of whisking the Sportage away from the traffic lights, despite the Platinum version being no lightweight for its size at just over 1700kg.

There#8217;s a degree of gruff diesel engine noise but it#8217;s a small price to pay for the Sportage Platinum#8217;s relaxed ability to accelerate from low speeds around town and demolish hilly terrain out on the open road.

Probably because of its weight you can#8217;t expect the same low levels of fuel consumption from a similarly sized conventional car, however. The official figure is 7.2 L/100km, but expect something closer to 8.7 L/100km in the real world.

On the road

Time and again, SUV owners cite a high driving position as one of the main attractions of the ilk and the Sportage is no exception. You get a good view of the road and in city traffic that equates to more confidence being able to see what#8217;s ahead. The somewhat stylised rear end, however, makes rear three-quarter vision pretty poor and there#8217;s no blind-spot-assist to help out.

Otherwise, the driving experience is about on-par for the genre. The 4WD system operates mainly in front-drive mode, meaning a degree of torque steer (tugging of the steering wheel during hard acceleration), and the handling tends definitely towards a nose-heavy balance.

The big tyres are grippy even in the wet and the steering well weighted and communicative, so even if the handling is less than inspiring neither is it at any time less than dependable.

The ride is comfortable enough tending towards a niggling sharpness on high-frequency bumps but if the plan is to mount a kerb and park the Sportage outside a primary school without damaging wheels or bodywork, it#8217;s amply up to the task.


Apart from its strong diesel performance and unassuming good looks there#8217;s nothing about the Sportage that makes it stand out from the crowd which, somewhat perversely, is a charm in itself. Any SUV is presumably acquired for its utility, and the Sportage does everything of which it is asked well.

The Platinum version adds equipment but lacks a lot in the way of luxury #8211; the plain interior and average ride quality see to that. The latest upgrades are welcome but far from comprehensive and truth be told, the Sportage was likeable enough in the first place and Kia#8217;s unwillingness to mess with the formula isn#8217;t such a bad thing.


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