I was actually going to call this piece ‘throw the book at it’ because that’s what I think Kia have done with their new Sportage GT Line but I get the negative connotations, hence the new title which works just as well. You see for me, I have (historically) always thought that Kia’s have been quite limited in their approach to the automotive industry, a sort of ‘there’s four wheels and an engine be happy’ type of thing, but I’m actually slightly embarrassed at how wrong have I been – there is so much more to a Kia that I could have ever imagined.
From the outside this small/mid-sized SUV is (in my opinion) lovable looking. There is a lot going on around its ‘clown’ face, LED daytime running lights straddle the bonnet and wing while 4 cube fogs sit next to the front air curtains down low. It has a wing shaped Kia badged grille underlined with blinged up chrome. The GT Line’s profile a beefed up look about it and the tall wheel arches show off the 19” alloys. Road the back is a smart tailgate (that opens automatically after 3 seconds with the key in close proximity) with stylish LED taillights and a spoiler up at roof level.
Under the bonnet sits a 2Litre CRDi Diesel engine that produces 136kW’s of power and a very respectable 400Nm’s of Torque (at 1,750rpm). I won’t pretend that it will win any sprint races but it’s more than peppy enough for the city and feels comfortable out on the open road. Fuel consumption sits at 6.8L/100k’s.
The roof has been replaced with a full sized panoramic glass ceiling; it lets the outside simply flood the SUV’s interior which is modern and well appointed. Seats are firm and yet comfy and the wheel is leather (as is the gear knob). Infotainment comes to you via a 7” colour touch screen that is clear and easy to use. All the materials are tactile and have a hard wearing feel about them.
That’s all the basics out of the way but then I opened the glovebox and pulled out the owner’s manual, the thing was the size of an old yellow pages, it’s massive and that is when you start to get more of an understanding of what the Sportage has on offer.
Under its skin is a frame made from 51% high strength steel that gives you better protection, better fuel economy and of course is ANCAP 5 star rated. Airbags, side airbags and curtains shower the cabin and there are a multitude of driver aids (Blind Spot, Rear cross traffic assist, Lane departure warning, high beam assist, autonomous braking) it just keeps on giving. Electronic park and hold brake, Hill descent, park assist, keyless entry, push button start… I could go on but hopefully you get the point; this KIA is seriously equipped.
I had the keys to this SUV for a week and we traveled all over the city and surrounding territory in it. We went out of our way to go the long way round to places, mainly to get a good feel for how the car handled day to day life. We went up the popular tourist hills and of course to the supermarkets (normally a challenge when parking SUV’s) but when it came time to give it back there was still plenty of fuel left.
Although it is a four wheel drive I’m not convinced that it will handle the real rough terrain that NZ has to offer but then again I’m not convinced that many (if any) owners of the Sportage will take them to those types of places. However it does have plenty of ground clearance and a taut enough suspension to give me the impression that it would give it a go.
What Kia has given us in the new Sportage GT Line is a family wagon that will happily handle most of what a regular family would throw at it. It’s not a sports car and doesn’t claim to be but it has a certain style and flair that sits well on the driveway and an enviable list of features. A week behind the wheel of this SUV taught me a great lesson too, from now on I will take the time to open the cover and read a few paragraphs before I pass judgment on well; anything!
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