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Kia’s new compact SUV drives value

Value-packed: V6 Sportage undercuts its four-cylinder compact SUV rivals.

Next-generation Kia Sportage arrives Down Under fully loaded at $31,990 driveaway

18 Apr 2005

KIA Automotive Australia has quietly slipped its new-generation Sportage onto Australian roads.

Priced at a bargain-basement $31,990 driveaway (including a 2.7-litre V6 and automatic transmission as standard), the all-new Sportage replaces the utilitarian original, which forged a name for the South Korean car-maker in the now-booming compact SUV segment.

Available from April 15 with just two options (metallic/mica paint: $190 and sunroof/leather trim: $2800), the latest Sportage is claimed to combine small people-mover space and versatility with car-like ride/handling and refinement, and the off-road ability of its forebear - 550,000 examples of which were produced.

Based on parent company Hyundai’s Tucson, the new-gen Sportage borrows styling cues from its larger Sorento sibling, offering a similarly cohesive design that incorporates roof rails, twin square-section exhaust outlets and an independently opening tailgate that features a flush wiper cover and concealed door handle.

Kia claims a class-leading 2943 litres of interior space, which comprises a front passenger seat that doubles as a folding table, houses an oddments drawer beneath it and resides near a shopping bag hook.

Split-folding rear seats that fold flat without removing head restraints and a plethora of storage compartments are said to increase the practicality of a cargo area that’s almost two cubic metres large (1886 litres, or 667 litres with all five seats in place). Kia says it’s enough to swallow a bicycle or four sets of golf clubs.

17 center image At the business end of Sportage lies the same 129kW 60-degree 2.656-litre ‘Delta’ V6 as found in Tucson, employing an aluminium block, DOHC/24 valves and three-phase induction system. Peak is produced at 6000rpm, while maximum torque of 241Nm is delivered at 4000rpm.

The transverse V6 drives a part-time four-wheel drive system, which employs an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch to direct up to 50 per cent of torque to the rear wheels, via a standard four-speed auto with manual-shift mode. A 4WD is also manually selectable, locking torque distribution in a 50:50 split.

With a substantial kerb weight of 1668kg, Kia claims Sportage is capable of 0-100km/h acceleration in 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 180km/h – competitive figures within a compact SUV field powered by sub-2.5-litre four-cylinder offerings like Rav4, X-Trail, Forester and CR-V.

Unbraked towing capacity is a paltry 600kg (1500kg braked), while ADR 81/04 combined average fuel consumption is an average 11.4L/100km.

McPherson spring-struts with L-shaped lower arms reside on a separate bush-mounted subframe up front, while rear suspension comprises dual control arms.

A conventional power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system features 3.06 turns lock to lock and a reasonable 10.8-metre turning circle, while Kia says efforts to reduce noise, vibration and harshness levels resulted in acoustic wind tunnel-tested, near-silent fan blades.

Standard safety equipment includes four-channel ABS with EBD, traction control, twin front airbags, five three-point seatbelts and front seatbelt pretensioners.

Standard running gear includes 6.5 x 16-inch alloy wheels with 215/65-section tyres, power windows/mirrors, air-conditioning, six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, remote central locking, eight-way driver’s seat adjustment, luggage cover, cruise control, rear armrest and cloth trim.

Sportage measures 4350mm long, 1800mm wide and 1695mm high. Other vital statistics are a 2630mm wheelbase, 1540mm wheel tracks, 880mm front overhang, 840mm rear overhang, 28.8-degree approach angle, 28.9-degree departure angle, 18.8-degree ramp-over angle and ground clearance of 186mm.

KAA admits that, thanks to a broader product portfolio and an influx of small four-wheel drive models, the new Sportage won’t account for almost half of Kia’s annual sales like its predecessor did.

But that hasn’t stopped Kia playing up the new model’s strengths.

"The small four-wheel drive market has been transformed since the Sportage first rolled into Australia," said KAA general manager Ed Butler.

"Therefore it is no surprise that the new Sportage bears little resemblance to the original car. The new Sportage is a state-of-the-art compact 4WD designed to take on the best in class without any apologies and yet it still retains Kia's reputation for value for money and durable quality construction.

"While it will never, thanks to our vastly increased range and sales, have the same market dominance of the previous model, it will be the brand defining model for Kia.

"It will display our technology, our style, our value for money reputation and will define and demonstrate what Kia is capable of producing." Like all Kia passenger cars, Sportage is available with a three-year/100,000km warranty. Hyundai's Tucson currently sells at $29,990 (plus on-road costs, and $215 for metallic paint), while the Elite version (adding side airbags) costs $32,490.

GoAuto can help you buy a new Sportage

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