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Frankfurt show: Kia Sportage to get Aussie twist

Inside job: The Kia Sportage’s high-end interior design is set to be one of the new model’s selling points when it arrives in showrooms in the first quarter of 2016.

Different engines, suspension tune for new-gen Kia Sportage in Australia

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Kia logo2 Sep 2015

THE Australian engine line-up for Kia’s fourth-generation Sportage remains under wraps, despite the release of detailed European specifications ahead of the mid-sized SUV’s global unveiling at this month’s Frankfurt motor show.

Two petrol and two diesel engines are earmarked for the European model to be built in Slovakia, but Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) insiders say those engines – two of which have just been launched in the new Hyundai Tucson in Australia – will not surface in the Korean-made Sportage for this market when it takes centre stage at the Kia-sponsored Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in January.

Apart from different powertrains, the Australian version will also get unique suspension settings courtesy of KMAu’s local tuning team which has already signed off on the project ahead of the model launch in the New Year.

But at least one feature of the new Sportage to be previewed in Europe will be firmly in place in Australia: the slick new interior design.

The German-crafted cabin layout is set to be one of the highlights of the all-new model that is said to be longer, roomier and much more refined than before.

Built on a wheelbase that is 30mm longer at 2670mm (the same as the Hyundai Tucson), the Sportage gets more legroom for both front and rear-seat passengers, along with increased headroom all round.

Luggage space has been increased by 38 litres, to 503 litres, while the boot lip is 47mm lower for easier loading. The tonneau cover can even be stored under the luggage compartment floor.

The split-fold rear seats recline in 17 steps to 37 degrees, while the rear seat is about 10mm lower than before, sitting on a floor that has been dropped 40mm.

Kia says the improvement in interior design and quality will be one of the big selling points of the new Sportage, with plenty of soft-touch materials, contrast stitching on leather seats and a clean, simple dash layout.

The European-spec cars get a choice of 7.0- or 8.0-inch control screens in the centre of the dash, along with an optional wireless phone charger in the centre console. That charger even alerts the driver if he or she leaves the car without taking the phone.

Two-tone trim choices will be available to lighten the mood, in a system similar to that of the latest Sorrento.

The seats have been redesigned for more comfort, employing stiffer frames that not only cut vibration but reduce weight by 2.5kg.

Forward visibility has been improved by the adoption of thinner A-pillars and placement of exterior mirrors lower on the door.

Apart from the interior design lift, major advances have been made in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression, thanks to a stiffer body that includes more extensive use of high-strength steel, extra soundproofing, thicker side glass, new rear suspension bushings and better sunroof seals.

Even the alloy wheels are said to be 49 per cent stiffer, reducing vibration.

The new body design, which was revealed in images released by Kia last week, is said to cut turbulence while at the same time reducing aerodynamic drag from 0.36Cd to 0.33Cd.

Safety systems for the European range will include high-end anti-crash aids such as autonomous braking, lane-keeping assist and rear-cross traffic alert, but it remains to be seen if all of these translate to the Australian range, and if so, on which models.

Kia assures us that the Sportage will perform strongly in the European NCAP crash ratings.

The Sportage gets independent suspension all round, with two-wheel drive variants getting a dual-lower-arm multi-link rear suspension system sitting on a stronger crossmember that, along with stiffer bushes and wheel bearings, helps to deliver more responsive handling.

Upper variants get a new rack-mounted electric steering box has been mounted further forward to allow smother steering inputs.

The European engine choices are topped by a 130kW 1.6-litre T-GDI turbocharged petrol engine pinched from the Pro_cee’d GT, but it seems this powerplant is unlikely to make the boat to Australia.

A normally-aspirated 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine producing 97kW will be standard fare in Europe, along with a brace of diesels, including an 87kW 1.7-litre CRDi and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in two states of tune 100kW and 85kW, both with 400Nm of torque.

A new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission will be available, alongside six-speed automatic and manual transmissions.

For Australia, the new Sportage will now be launched at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in January – the biggest event on the Kia calendar in this country.

This is a change from previous advice, which suggested that the new Picanto mini hatchback would be the star of that show, with the Sportage arriving in March-April.

Instead, the powers that be have swapped the events, with Sportage the focus in January and Picanto moving back to about February or March.

Before that, the all-new Optima sedan will land in November.

As well, a major facelift for Cerato is scheduled for an Australian debut in the first half of 2016.

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