2017 Kia Sportage CRDi GT-Line – $45.990
(3.5 / 5)
Seven years is a long time. For children, it sees them achieve several milestones, going from helpless infants to young people who have strong personalities.
They have learned how to sit, crawl, walk, run, climb and then progress into humans who can play piano, guitar or exhibit any number of talents.
Considering how much can be packed into seven years, it’s worth remembering that this is the length of time that Kia offers for its warranty.
And not just warranty, by the way. We’re talking unlimited kilometres, capped price servicing and roadside assistance, all for seven years.
Okay, so you could buy any Kia and get all that, but let’s concentrate for a while on Kia’s medium SUV, the Sportage.
It was the last generation that was the most memorable. It put Kia on everyone’s map with its great build, good looks and appealing warranty.
So when this generation was announced, it’s safe to say that it had people quite excited. That was, of course, until the covers were pulled off.
It looks a bit, um, different
With its bold but unusual front end, it was definitely polarising.
And because the Sportage and Hyundai’s medium SUV shared platforms, the two have always been compared.
And when the Tuscon was launched, its handsome styling won over many who had previously viewed the Hyundai version as the ugly duckling.
It appears that here, the roles have been reversed.
Styling, of course, is subjective. What isn’t is how cars are put together. And here, the Kia shines.
The plastics are high grade, the fit and finish is excellent and the materials used throughout are very nice indeed.
The presentation is fairly basic, but it’s very legible and easy to understand. The instruments, for example, are just a couple of dials with an info screen in the centre, which is controlled from the steering wheel.
The centre screen is also simple but clear, so you get the feeling that this is a no-nonsense, no-frills machine.
It’s straightforward and to the point – no airs and graces, but that doesn’t mean there’s no sense of luxury.
The leather seats look and feel good at this price point, plus the front seats are both heated and cooled, and are ten-way (driver’s) and eight-way (passenger’s) electrically adjustable.
They’re decently sized and the legroom in the back is excellent, too. The whole cabin feels spacious and airy.
It feels like it’s now the medium SUV it should be, rather than a tiny car with the medium tag.
How spacious is it?
The boot is 466 litres (with the rear seats up) but if you drop the back seats, that grows to 1455 litres, so there’s plenty of scope to move stuff around, and there’s good sized bottle holders and cupholders front and back.
It’s also packed with tech. Everything you’d expect from a top-shelf model is here: Apple Car Play, Android Auto, touchscreen sat-nav, Bluetooth streaming and telephony, MP3 and USB players, cruise control, wireless charging for mobiles, three 12V outlets, dual-zone climate control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, autonomous braking and plenty of other gear.
Great, but how does it drive?
Well, exactly like you’d expect a Korean medium SUV to drive.
The Sportage, in this guise, runs on 19-inch wheels which not only look good but also help it to handle quite well.
But of course it has an impact on the ride which can be a little rough over harsh ridges, but you’d be surprised at how well it rides at other times with local tuning paying off.
There’s a good tradeoff between handling and comfort, so you’d have to wonder how much better it would be with 18s on.
The steering, though, is a little wooden and too heavy in sport mode, and too light in comfort, so normal mode is by far the best.
And under the bonnet?
The engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel, which makes 136kW and a very healthy 400Nm, and it uses those outputs rather well.
It’s punchy and with enough torque, it overcomes a little lag to pile on the speed very nicely. The engine runs through a smooth six-speed auto that also comes with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
Fuel consumption is listed as 6.8L/100km, but for most driving you’ll hit just under nines, as we did in our week long test.
Here’s the deal
Overall, this is a car that ticks all the right boxes without being amazing in any one area.
Its looks could count against it but it has enough room, good quality and a nice drive.
Problem is, all those qualities are matched by the Hyundai Tuscon. But the Tuscon is a fair sight easier on the eye, too.
Of course, the Hyundai is a couple of grand more and it has two years less on its warranty.
So, Kia’s seven year deal may just be the thing that saves it after all.
Can you take the Kia Sportage off road?
You can, but you won’t get too far. Its ground clearance is fine for heading onto the beach, but the GT-Line’s large wheels make it difficult to let down, so the lower specced models will be the ones to go for if you’re planning on doing some fishing. Or, you could look at the slightly smaller Jeep Compass, with its proper four-wheel-drive system.