fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

The Sportage badge dates back to 1993 with its first iteration. It was compact in size and had a standout four-wheel drive system complimented by a low-range transfer ‘box. Having reached the present fifth-gen Sportage, much has changed! The size has increased and only the front wheels are now driven writes Peter Palm.

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

This does make sense as the majority of owners do not go off-roading and extra complexity would merely take the price to even higher, unattainable levels.

The range kicks-off with the LX model. The list of features on this R539 995 car includes most of the good stuff, just skipping leather upholstery, electric seats and the panoramic glass roof. Also, the wheels are 17-inch instead of 19-inch on the GT-Line Plus. Of interest is that all models have a huge 12,3-inch touch screen that is neatly curved towards the driver.

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

All controls fall easily to hand with the exception of the electric parking brake positioned to the immediate right of the steering column. One other disappointment is the “clever” double function of the volume control knob. In order to use this, you first have to switch modes via another button from heating and ventilation to audio. This reduces the clutter very slightly but takes longer than having individual controls. Naturally, most drivers will, however, use the steering wheel controls instead.

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

The wheels on the fifth-gen Sportage GT-Line models are beautifully finished and add to the blacked-out trim of this model. Lower-priced derivatives use more chrome and aluminium elements plus body-coloured side mirrors in place of the black.

The suspension is excellent at soaking up bumps, even with the low-profile tyres on the GT-Line Plus and the steering feel is faultless.  The smaller wheels do improve the ride quality even further and one noticeable attribute is the refined quietness of the engine. Only when you push for more power does the unit sound rather strained. This did seem odd as the output is a meaty 132 kW. The mileages on the test cars were under 1 000 km and this may have been the reason for thinking that some extra power would be useful. Almost as if we were driving at high altitude instead of at the coast.

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

The car could be quite heavy too. The turbo is completely unobtrusive with no discernable kick. High levels of insulation and refinement do add mass to a vehicle. The gearbox feels more like a conventional automatic with no clutch jerk, a very smooth take-off and a fairly rapid but imperceptible ratio swops through the seven-speed gearbox. The GT-Line adds paddles for manual step- shifting as the conventional gear lever is replaced with a rotary dial. The usual drive modes merely hold onto higher revs when in Sport mode as opposed to the more economical settings. Heated and air-conditioned seating are more features of the top model. No manual cars are offered and no diesels as yet.

fifth-gen kia sportage continues to make waves in a sea of gt-line suvs

Image: Kia

When asked why the excellent 5-yr warranty does not extend to 1 000 000 km the answer was that although no-one will achieve these mileages, the warranty has unlimited km, so theoretically, Kia could boast that 2-million km is also acceptable. The service plan has also been upped to 6 years or 90 000 km. While South Africans do like a full package of features and justify the extra expense by paying it all off over far too many years, we feel that the entry-level fifth-gen Sportage LX model is the best value for money for a whole lot of quality car.

Keyword: Fifth-gen Kia Sportage continues to make waves in a sea of GT-Line SUVs

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