Khulekani Dumisa (@dumisa_khulekani) & Benjamin Chunga (@benjaminthecreative)
Recently we attended the launch of the 7 new additions to the Kia Sportage range. Although a far superior product than the previous generation, the current generation of the Sportage hasn’t had the success enjoyed by its sibling the Hyundai Tucson locally. Could the new additions ignite the fire of the Kia Sportage? If the specifications and pricing of the new models are anything to go by then the battle is half won for the Sportage and it should find more local success with these additions. What are they?
New 7 additions
The entry level Sportage 2.0 Ignite gains an automatic at R 382,995, just R13,000 over the entry level 2.0 Ignite Manual. If you are familiar with the Sportage range, you will know that Ignite models are anything but entry level and have as standard, features such as LED daytime running lights, automatic headlight control, rear park distance control, Bluetooth connectivity, and steering wheel-mounted remote controls packed into them.
There are customers who like a bit more luxury in their car and Kia says for those customers, but critically still keeping prices affordable, there is the new Sportage Ignite PLUS models. The new Ignite PLUS specification sees the standard Ignite model gain several exterior improvements, including the addition of front fog lights, as well as a wheel upgrade from 16-inch to 17-inch, while the interior gains an electrochromatic rear-view mirror.
Up next in the range will be the EX models with all of the features included in the Ignite grade as standard but adding features such as an electric parking brake, front park distance control, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, a smart key with start/stop button, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, and electric folding side mirrors with integrated indicators.
Finally, new EX PLUS powered by a 2.0 litre engine petrol specifications will adds 19-inch alloy wheels, electric front seats, a rear-view camera as well as a 7-inch touchscreen with integrated satellite navigation.
A new engine
In keeping with the mandate of affordability in the Kia Sportage range, Kia has introduced a 1.7-litre CRDI engine as an alternative engine option. The new 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine produces 85 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque. The Ignite PLUS CRDI is offered with a 6-speed manual transmission. At the time of writing this piece, the fuel consumption figures had not been released by Kia.
In a first for us, we got to test drive the new Kia Sportage EX Plus within 7 days of launch. Thank you to the folks at Kia for organising this. We took the Sportage EX Plus to the historic town of Vryheid in Northern Natal. The road to Vryheid from Johannesburg is a combination of national roads and quite a few provincial roads of a varying degree of qualify. On the national roads, the Kia Sportage proved itself to be a composed ride, gliding along comfortably. You could have mistaken the ride quality for a far more luxurious product. Although the engine had to dig a bit deeper to maintain the same speed on the hills, overall it took the trip well. Overtaking wasn’t a mission at all and you do a lot of it on provincial roads.
That was the national roads and we know SANRAL pulls all the stops to keep them in great shape. The same can’t be said of provincial roads. Different provinces seem to adhere to different standards and as if that’s not enough, within the provinces themselves, the roads appear to also adhere to different standards. In the KwaZulu-Natal leg of the trip for example, the R34 stretch between Newcastle and the R34/R33 interchange is in a good shape. However, the R34 towards Vryheid is in a poor shape. How did the Sportage fair? Quite well. It wasn’t shaken by the bumps and potholes on the road although one of the tyres did. You can tell that a lot has gone into the ride quality. The car doesn’t only attempt to match the superior products in looks and interior quality but it also does so in comfort and ride quality. Although a lone trooper for the trip, we could imagine a family of five having no complains about comfort and enjoying the trip in peace.
As if fighting potholes and uneven surfaces wasn’t enough, I took the car on an excursion up one of Vryheid’s best kept secrets – Vryheid Hill- for a game drive. The Hill offers the visitors the opportunity to see some unspoilt vegetation, spot a wide range of species of birds and game like zebra, antelope and kudu. It’s pretty much all for free considering that they ask for a donation of R10 to be placed in the honesty box at the unmanned exit. The Sportage is no off-roader but the odd gravel road drive is not a major ask for the Kia Sportage especially in South Africa when pretty much everything is taken off-road. Vryheid Hill offers plenty of little gravel roads. The Sportage didn’t feel threatened at all. Such was the confidence it bestowed in me that we decided to engage the downhill break assist on my way down Vryheid Hill. Foot off the brake and it worked like a charm.
Finally, a word on fuel consumption of the Sportage EX Plus. Kia claims a fuel consumption of 8.1l/100km from the 2.0 114 kW and 192 Nm engine. Going down to Northern KwaZulu-Natal, we managed to get about 9.2l/100 km and on the trip back to Johannesburg, this went up to about 10.5. In Vryheid, the Kia Sportage proved to be slightly fuel thirsty hovering around 12.5/100 km. Small towns have a lot short distances and stops. It’s not like being in the city.
The Sportage is a quality offering and the new additions to the line-up are welcomed as the consumer will have more options at more affordable prices.
This is the pricing of the Kia Sportage range (new 7 models in bold):
Sportage 2.0 Ignite Manual R369,995
Sportage 2.0 Ignite PLUS Manual R376,995
Sportage 2.0 Ignite Automatic R382,995
Sportage 2.0 Ignite PLUS Automatic R389,995
Sportage 1.7 Ignite PLUS Manual R406,995
Sportage 2.0 EX Automatic R429,995
Sportage 2.0 EX PLUS Automatic R459,995
Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX Automatic R487,995
Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX PLUS Automatic R517,995
Sportage 2.4 GDI SX AWD Automatic R557,995
Sportage 2.0 CRDI SX AWD Automatic R567,995
Sportage 1.6 T-GDI GT Line AWD DCT R599,995
The prices include a 5-year / 90,000 km service plan and a 5-year / unlimited kilometre warranty. Kia also throws in 5 years / unlimited kilometres roadside
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