Stylish newcomer: 2019 Kia Sportage 1.6 GDI Ignite

2019-03-27 06:00
PHOTO: MOTORPRESSThe stylish 2019 Kia Sportage.

PHOTO: MOTORPRESSThe stylish 2019 Kia Sportage.

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Kia’s Sportage underwent a major revamp in 2016. Then, a few months ago, the surgeons tweaked the facelift. The front end features a new bumper design to make it look more masculine and menacing, while the fog lamps were given more prominent housings. A restyled rear bumper and new lighting signature emphasise the car’s width to make it look more “planted.” New wheels and colour options form part of the package.

Having a dozen variants was considered excessive so the range was rationalised down to nine. Three engines were dropped and a new price leader was introduced.

There are now four trim levels: Ignite, Ignite Plus, EX and EX Plus, and three engines: 1.6-litre petrol, 2.0 petrol and 2.0-diesel. Three gearboxes put power to the ground — six-speed manual or auto, and a new eight-speed self-shifter that serves diesel models only. There is only one AWD (all-wheel drive) — a diesel with automatic.

Our test unit was the new entry-level model with free breathing 1 600 cc motor, six-speed automatic and basic Ignite specification. Its 1 591 cc, GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine is uprated beyond Cerato, Soul, Accent and Creta levels to 97 kilowatt and 161 Nm while transmission is via the group’s efficient in-house unit that has been around for a while.

Standard items include variable ratio electric power steering, disc brakes front and rear, 16” alloy wheels with full-size spare, ABS brakes with EBD and ESC, hill start assistance, downhill brake control, rear parking sensors, automatic lights, electric mirrors and windows (auto-down for driver), manual air conditioner, fabric upholstery with height adjusters for both front chairs, six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth, rake and reach adjustable steering wheel with remotes, and six airbags.

The information screen is a simple 3.5” TFT panel — no colours, no touch, no CarPlay — just buttons. But it covers all that most families need.

The car offers plenty of power for daily use. It is also spacious, quiet, comfortable (including over gravel), easy to drive, brakes well, feels solid and stable and is very well finished inside and out.

The boot loads at a height of 745 mm and offers a cargo cover, one light, two bag hooks and four lashing rings. You need to lean in through the back doors to get to the seat tipping levers but the backrests fold almost completely flat.

They can also recline a few degrees for passengers’ comfort.

Those seated in the rear find stacks of head- and foot space and enough knee room for a bridal gown. There are three belts and head restraints along with a pair of ISOFix anchoring sets. A second courtesy light makes it easier to get the bambini safely strapped in after dark. A folding armrest includes a pair of cup holders for those who can’t do without while a remote vent, a 12V/180W power point, grab handles and token bottle-holders look after comfort.

Priced just shy of R400 000, this Sportage is no first-time buyer’s basic tin box but it does its job well, is comfortable, has the expected safety kit and offers what we might not have considered possible ten years ago – damn’ fine Korean Quality.

THE NUMBERS

Price: R386 995

Engine: 1 591 cc, DOHC 16-valve, four-cylinder, naturally aspirated

Power: 97 kW at 6 300 rpm

Torque: 161 Nm at 4 850 rpm

Zero to 100 km/h: 12.1 seconds

Top speed: 170 km/h

Real life fuel consumption: About 8.8 l/100 km

T ank: 62 litres

Luggage: 466 – 1455 litres VDA

Warranty: Five years, unlimited km with roadside assistance

Service plan: Five years/90 000 km

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