It’s been just more than two years since the multiple award-winning current-generation KIA Sportage made its debut in South Africa. Now, thanks to a mid-life refresh that includes revisions to engine and transmission options, as well as a revised model line-up, the significantly enhanced Sportage is available in South Africa.
A strong heritage
Launched in 1993 and spanning four generations since, Sportage is undoubtedly the most successful model in KIA’s history. In fact, earlier in 2018 – in the year of its 25thanniversary – KIA Motors celebrated Sportage reaching 5 million cumulative sales across the globe.
The Sportage made its first appearance at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show, introducing the concept of the ‘Urban SUV’ to consumers for the first time. It set the blueprint for a compact, practical SUV, suitable for use in a variety of environments and – unsurprisingly – was an instant hit, recording total lifetime sales of over 500,000 units.
A new version of Sportage was introduced in 2004, and after seven years of production, recorded sales of 1,223,776 units globally.
The global award-winning third generation Sportage, which debuted in 2010, racked up a million sales in only four years, reaching 2 million cumulative sales during its sixth year in production.
The fourth and current generation Sportage, which debuted globally late in 2015, is considered the most popular Sportage yet, reaching the 1-million-unit sales mark after only two years in production.
“Since 1993, the Sportage has become a benchmark car in the compact SUV segment, and is not only KIA’s most popular model globally, but also one of the most successful models in the brand’s South African line-up,” says Gary Scott, CEO, KIA Motors South Africa. “The arrival of the enhanced Sportage is the culmination of our 20thanniversary celebrations in South Africa, and we are excited to usher in the next 20 years with a car that ticks every box.”
Subtle revisions to exterior and interior design
A multi-award winning global design, Sportage is now even more striking thanks to a slight nip-and-tuck to its exterior for the 2019 model year. At the front, Sportage retains its striking headlamps, incorporating unique LED Daytime Running Lights, as well as a slightly revised, more prominent ‘tiger nose’ grille. A new bumper design gives Sportage a more masculine, menacing visage, with a more prominent housing for the front fog lamps.
At the rear, Sportage also gains a revised bumper that emphasizes the car’s width while giving it a more planted stance. The rear taillights retain their original shape – with a connecting strip between the lights – but feature a new lighting signature that also assists in emphasizing the vehicle’s width.
Other enhancements include a new selection of alloy wheel designs in 16-, 17- or 19-inch sizes (model dependent), as well as a range of new colour options.
Revised model line-up
As part of the Sportage’s mid-life enhancement, KIA Motors South Africa has also revised the model line-up of the local range, discontinuing the SX AWD and GT Line specification grades while increasing the specification and value offering of the existing line-up.
“While Sportage has always delivered on stylish looks, abundant space for modern families and a raft of specification, we embraced the opportunity to critically assess the model in a segment that is growing increasingly competitive,” says Stephen Crosse, Sales Director, KIA Motors South Africa. “We are confident that the revised range, including new engines and transmissions, again places Sportage front and centre in the medium SUV segment.”
KIA Motors has retained the Ignite specification grade as entry point into the Sportage range, but have enhanced the overall grade to include a raft of standard specification that includes, but is not limited to, air-conditioning (manual), automatic headlamp control (incorporating ‘Welcome Home’ and ‘Escort’ lighting), electric side mirrors with integrated indicator lamps, a centre console armrest with integrated storage box, Bluetooth connectivity, a radio with six speakers, electric windows front and rear, rear park distance control and high performance dampers, to name but a few.
Ignite models feature fabric upholstery, as well as a new leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote controls for audio, telephony and cruise control, and a new leather-wrapped gearshift. Newly designed 16-inch alloy wheels with 215/70 R16 rubber complete the picture, along with standard LED Daytime Running Lights.
Building on the Ignite specification, the revised Ignite Plusrange also includes auto-folding side mirrors and an electrochromatic rear-view mirror on the inside, gaining notably on its exterior appeal with the addition of front fog lamps and stylish new 17-inch wheels shod with 225/60 R17 tyres.
The Sportage EXrange makes further progress, with exterior enhancements also including stylish new 17-inch wheels shod with 225/60 R17 tyres. EX models also gain front parking sensors, auto rain-sensing wipers and an Electric Parking Brake with Auto Hold function. Its Bluetooth system incorporates Voice Recognition, and the air-conditioning system is upgraded from manual to automatic. Seats are upgraded to leather upholstery, and gain electric adjustment functionality (including adjustable lumbar support).
Notably, the infotainment system is upgraded to include a 7-inch colour touchscreen that incorporates not only the reverse camera display, but also Apple CarPlay (Sportage is Android Auto ready).
Included in the EX grade is a singular all-wheel drive model, which also includes an upgrade to sporty 19-inch wheels on 245/45 R19 tyres.
The new Sportage range-topper, the Sportage EX Plus, builds on the EX specification grade, and features the same sporty 19-inch wheels as the EX AWD model, as well as a panoramic sunroof. Rear passengers now have access to a USB port, while driver and front passenger benefit from an upgrade to an 8-inch colour touchscreen that incorporates satellite navigation, the reverse camera display, full Apple CarPlay functionality (Sportage is Android Auto ready), as well as a wireless smartphone charger.
Simplified powertrain options
Proving to be the most popular choices over the past two years, KIA has retained both its familiar 2.0-litre Multi-point Injection (MPI) and 2.0-litre CRDI (Common Rail Diesel Injection) engines for use in the Sportage, discontinuing both the 2.4 GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) and 1.6 T-GDI (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection) engines found in the previous SX AWD and GT Line models.
“Careful analysis of the Sportage range’s most popular models in conjunction with extensive feedback from our customers proved that what is most important in an SUV is a durable and efficient powertrain,” comments Crosse. “KIA’s familiar 2,0-litre engines, in both petrol and diesel, have proven themselves on both of these factors and remain the most popular choices in the range.”
New to the range, however, is the efficient 1,6-litre GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine, utilised exclusively in the Sportage Ignite. This new-generation 1,591cc ‘Gamma’ engine produces 97 kW of power, with 161 Nm of torque available from 4,850 r/min. It reaches the 100 km/h mark in 12,1 seconds and is capable of a top speed of 170 km/h, with CO2 emissions of 175 g/km.
The familiar 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ MPI engine delivers 115 kW of power and 196 Nm of torque at 4,000 r/min, with a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 10,5 second (6-speed manual) and 11,1 seconds (6-speed automatic) respectively. Top speed is noted at 186 km/h (6-speed manual) and 181 km/h (6-speed automatic) respectively, with CO2 emissions at 183 g/km (6-speed manual) and 184 g/km (6-speed automatic).
New 8-speed automatic transmission
Loved for its excellent mid- and low-range torque and agile acceleration, KIA’s much-loved 2.0 CRDI engine produces 131 kW of power, and a healthy 400 Nm of torque between 1,750- and 2,750 r/min. As part of the Sportage’s mid-life enhancement, the engine is now mated exclusively to KIA’s new new eight-speed automatic transmission in both the Ignite Plus, EX and EX Plus specification grades.
Designed in-house by KIA, the transmission boasts 143 newly-patented technologies and delivers a slick-shifting, more decisive drive while reducing emissions. Compared to other automatic transmissions, KIA’s new eight-speed unit requires fewer control valves, enabling a more direct mechanical link to the engine. This allows the transmission to shift more quickly than the outgoing six-speed automatic transmission, and enables more decisive acceleration.
In the Sportage, the new transmission assists in getting the SUV to the 100 km/h mark in 9,3 seconds, with a top speed of 201 km/h and CO2 emissions of 164 g/km.
Driver Assistance and Safety
The Sportage range features a full complement of safety and driver assistance systems, including ABS brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), six airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchors as standard. Vehicle safety is ensured through the standard inclusion of central locking, as well as an alarm, immobiliser and Data Dot.
Drivers will also benefit from Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill-start Assist (HAC), and Downhill Brake Control (DBC). All models feature Park Distance Control at the rear, while higher specification EX and EX Plus models also gain front parking sensors and a reverse camera, displayed on the 7- or 8-inch colour touchscreen.
A new value proposition
All Sportage models ship as standard with KIA’s industry-leading unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty, as well as a standard 5-year/900,000km service plan and 5 years of roadside assistance.
“One of the pioneers in the SUV era, Sportage has been one of KIA’s most popular models in South Africa for close to a decade,” says David Sieff, Marketing Director, KIA Motors South Africa. “The enhanced Sportage range builds on years of success and brings with it even more refinement, more value, and more functionality.”
KIA Sportage 1.6 GDI Ignite (6-Speed Auto) R379 995
KIA Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-Speed Manual) R389 995
KIA Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-Speed Auto) R403 995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI Ignite Plus (8-Speed Auto) R453 995
KIA Sportage 2.0 EX (6-Speed Auto) R459 995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX (8-Speed Auto) R509 995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX AWD (8-Speed Auto) R536,995
KIA Sportage 2.0 EX Plus (6-Speed Auto) R499 995
KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX Plus (8-Speed Auto) R549 995