Base model Kia Sportage Si a roomy, solidly packaged no frills mid-size SUV
When we tested the current generation Kia Sportage just after it was launched a couple of years ago, we quickly established that it was excellent, especially in top-spec GT Line trim with the turbo diesel engine.
To keep things fresh, Kia has just given the Sportage range a mild update. Key changes include the standard fitment of Autonomous Emergency Braking and lane keep assist across the range, an all-new eight-speed automatic for diesel models, revised ride and handling and a mild cosmetic overhaul.
We sampled the entry-level Kia Sportage Si, which has a recommended retail price of $29,990 plus government charges. As aforementioned, standard equipment now includes auto braking and lane keep assist, a rear reversing camera and rear parking sensors, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth streaming and new 17inch alloy wheels.
Our test car was powered by a 2.0 litre petrol engine that produces 114kW @ 6200rpm and 192Nm @ 4000rpm and is mated to a six-speed automatic that channels power to the front wheels.
Inside, the updated Sportage is solid, there’s ample room for front and rear passengers and the seats are soft and comfortable. In the Si at least, though, there are swathes of dark – but high quality – plastic and the overall ambience is a touch gloomy, a stark contrast to the more premium SLi and GT models.
Rear legroom is generous, and the useful and commodious load space should swallow all sorts of paraphernalia with aplomb.
As always, the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are most welcome, and although the Sportage Si doesn’t offer satellite navigation, the infotainment system can mirror maps from a compatible smartphone, which is useful.
Australian-delivered Kias are some of the best riding and handling in the world. This nous is thanks to the input of Kia Australia’s local engineering team, and they’ve given the suspension on the revised Sportage a decent rework. The ride is more compliant than ever, it soaks up bumps with a minimal of fuss and it very rarely loses composition. It’s a similar story with the steering, it’s direct and provides good progressive feedback to the driver.
Overall, the updated Sportage is a pleasant thing to steer. It’s no Stinger, but by small/medium SUV standards, it’s a great drive.
Perhaps our biggest bugbear of the updated Sportage range was the driveline. It wasn’t that the 2.0 litre engine wasn’t unrefined, it felt that it was working too hard too much of the time. As aforementioned, the engine produces 114kW @ 6200rpm and 192Nm @ 4000rpm. As the figures suggest, maximum power and torque are produced in the upper echelons of the rev range, meaning the engine feels peaky when pressed and it doesn’t exactly make for a relaxed drive. The six-speed auto shifts sweetly, and tries to make the most of the engine’s power and torque.
The petrol donk may be sufficient for some, but we’d recommend that spend some extra cash and opt for a diesel model instead.
Kia should be lauded on the standard fitment of AEB and lane keep assist. While we were fortunate enough not to use AEB, we found that the lane keep assist was effective and unobtrusive.
The revised Kia Sportage is a practical, solid and a quality product, only let down by a peaky and slightly underpowered engine.