2016 Kia Sportage Launch Review

2016 Kia Sportage Launch Review

2016 Kia Sportage review filed from Australian launch.

The new 4th-generation Kia Sportage is here and I’m pleased to say the 2016 Kia Sportage is a better offering than the model it replaces.

Now the fourth new or significantly improved Kia model launched into Australia in the past 12 months (following Carnival, Sorento and Optima), Kia Australia Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith, admitted that the new Sportage was a very important model for the brand in Australia.

Being launched into a market hungry for small SUVs, Kia is hoping the new Sorento finds a larger share of buyers than the superseded model.

Kia wants to increase sales here this year by 15% and believe the Sportage will help achieve this.

The new 2016 Sportage brings a number of changes, including;

  • 135kW/237Nm 2.4 litre petrol engine (Platinum only)
  • New Platinum GT Line enhancements
  • 19″ alloy wheels (Platinum GT)
  • Wireless smartphone charging (Platinum)
  • Roomier interior thanks to larger wheelbase
  • Strengthened body shell
  • Updated suspension, larger brakes and sharper steering
  • Improved in-cabin sound absorption
  • Introduction of Smart Park Assist (Platinum)

While Australian supplies of the new Kia Sportage will come once again from South Korea, rather than Slovakia.

As with the superseded model, the new Sportage will again be offered with a 114kW/192Nm 2.0 litre engine and 2WD in the entry-level Si, while the Kia 136kW/400Nm 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine is available in all three model grades (Si, SLi and Platinum).

A six-speed automatic transmission comes as standard with all three engines.

Priced from $29,990, today we had an initial drive of a couple of variants, I had the keys to the diesel engine version in both mid-spec SLi and Platinum grades and had around 100 kilometres of driving through country Victoria in both.

On all road surfaces, including dirt, the 18″ alloys and ‘standard’ suspension in the mid-spec model impressed me more. With 55 Series Kumho tyres fitted, the smaller wheels provided a nicer ride and a lot less road noise than the larger wheels/Hankook Tyres/45 Series tyres and sportier suspension.

The diesel engine provides reasonably good acceleration, especially in Sport mode, though when pushed particularly hard it does become a touch noisy. For most driving though it delivers plenty of usable torque and works really nicely with the six-speed auto transmission.

Where Kia has done the most work though is inside the cabin and the first thing that struck me about the new model was just how roomy the cabin is. Immediately recognizable as being larger than the previous model, even with the front seats right back there was still plenty of legroom in the rear.

This new model also adds more rear legroom/foot space due to the floor height being lowered by some 40mm. And while we are in this area of the Sportage, I am very pleased to confirm the new model comes with rear air-conditioning vents as standard (a glaring omission in previous models).

2016 Kia Sportage Launch ReviewThe boot height has also been lowered, here by 47mm and this will help when loading heavy/bulky items. The lower floor level allows for more space in what is a very generously sized boot. A hands free powered tailgate comes as standard on the Platinum-grade model.

The feel and look of the cabin in the new Sportage is also improved over the previous model. The dashboard is very similar to the larger Kia Sorento and is quite simple and attractive. The infotainment system too has been updated and now features a 7″ colour touchscreen.

The climate control settings though are perhaps a touch busy and placed fairly low and well out of the driver’s line of sight. The glove box too is on the small side and with the chunky Kia owners manuals/service books inside there isn’t much room for anything else.

Everything in the cabin though feels better than good and little touches like the steering wheel controls and easy to read gauges only add to what is a rather nice new Kia Sportage interior.

Tomorrow we get a drive of the other grades of the new 2016 Kia Sportage, I will report more at the conclusion of the Australian launch.

At this stage though, so long as you don’t mind the styling, I reckon this generation of the Kia Sorento is sure to attract a large number of Australian small SUV buyers.

Update

2016 Kia Sportage Launch ReviewThe Australian launch of the all-new Kia Sportage has now concluded following an exhaustive testing of the entry-level/2WD/petrol version of the new 2016 model.

My impression of the petrol-powered version is that, again, without the low-profile tyres on the Platinum grade model/sportier GT suspension, the Kia engineers have sorted the ride and steering out nicely in this new offering.

As you might expect from a petrol engine, initial acceleration is a little better than the diesel, I wouldn’t say though that there was any great noticeable difference in at-speed acceleration, i.e. when overtaking is required.

The petrol engine never felt/sounded particularly labored when traveling at 110km/h or when tackling hills.

My preference though would be a Sportage with the diesel engine and when all is taken into account that mid-spec Sportage SLi looks the pick of the bunch.

We will have more in-depth reviews of the new Kia Sportage in coming weeks, overall though I couldn’t be much more impressed at just how nicely the new model presents, functions and the internal space it provides.

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