All-new Kia Sportage sets sail for the future

Being Kia’s global best-seller since 2016, the Sportage is more than just an important model for the Korean carmaker. It’s very much a halo model.

And befitting of such a moniker, Kia went balls to the wall with the all-new fifth-generation Sportage that was officially rolled out locally this month.

Sporting a very futuristic design, the carmaker says the new Sportage “dramatically sets the tone for the next generation family”. And although Kia does not offer future energy technology in South Africa yet, the Sportage’s space-aged design definitely lends itself to future electrification.


The standout feature of the new exterior design is the new Sportage’s boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights which split the Matrix LED headlamps from the signature Kia Tiger Nose grille.

The rear spoiler features a chrome belt line that extends into the D-pillars, while the razor taillights that extend into the tailgate are connected by a slim horizontal design.

Inside, the futuristic design continues by virtue of a curved display that sweeps across the front of the cabin, complementing a very elegant and modern overall finishing. One which is as premium as you can wish to find in a traditional “non-premium” brand.

A 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the centre console seamlessly extends into the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, creating a sense of width.

Kia Sportage interior
Futuristic and elegant inside.

GT-Line grows

Matching the boldness of the new Sportage’s design is Kia’s new approach to the medium SUV segment. The GT-Line nomeclature, which up until now was only reserved for one model in both the Seltos and Sportage line-up, has now been redefined as a sub-brand on the Sportage.

Of the five models on offer, three wear the GT-Line badge; the GT-Line, GT-Line Plus and GT-Line S. The range starts with the LX, which is followed by the EX trim lines, with the Ignite and Ignite Plus for the fourth generation falling away.

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“The GT-Line opens itself up to a much wider audience. It is an exciting development for us and which you’ll hear a lot more from in future,” says Stephen Crosse, Sales and Marketing Director for Kia South Africa.

“VW offers the only real-world equivalent to the GT-Line with its Tiguan R Line offerings. But our GT-Line S actually does not have any real competitor.”

Kia Sportage features a solitary engine

Somewhat surprisingly, Kia SA is only offering the new Sportage with a solitary engine option; the 1.6-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine carried over from the fourth generation. The 2.0-litre petrol engine and 2.0-litre oil-burner from the previous generation has been canned, although the carmaker did not rule out the a possible reintroduction of an oil-burner down the line.

The 1.6-litre mill produces 132 kW of power at 5 500rpm and 265Nm of torque available between 1 500 and 4 500rpm.

The power goes to the front wheels exclusively via seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as Kia says the demand for manual gearboxes in this segment is steadily declining.

Kia claims the Sportage can reach 100 km/h from a standstill in 8.8 seconds with a top whack of 201 km/h. It is claimed to only sip 6.5l of petrol for every 100 km.

The new Sportage offers generous space for passengers in the second row, with its legroom measuring 996 mm and headroom 1 000 m. Boot space of 591 litres is equally impressive.

Kia Sportage exterior rear
A slim horizontal design connect the taillights.

Value for money

The new Kia Sportage offers good value for money with Crosse adding that the LX is too well specced to serve as a mere replacement for the fourth generation’s entry-level Ignite. The LX comes standard with a host of features including dual-zone climate control with rear vents, a six-speaker sound system, push-button start, rear parking sensors with a reverse camera, keyless entry and rain-sensing wipers.

One very nifty feature is the instrumentation strip under the infotainment system which double acts as both infotainment systems controls and climate control controllers by virtue of a toggle switch.

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All Kia Sportage models come standard with six airbags, ABS with EBD, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, downhill brake control and trailer stability assist.

It’s easy to get so carried away by all the nice design features and technology on offer in the new Sportage that you can overlook its performance initially.

But once out on the road, the response of the mill serves as a reminder as to why Kia decided to stick to this engine. Power delivery is smooth and gear changes slick.

When you need a bit of extra oomph on the twisties, the powertrain responds with aplomb while the handling remains rock solid.

Kia Sportage pricing

  • Sportage 1.6 T-GDI LX DCT – R539 995
  • Sportage 1.6 T-GDI EX DCT – R593 995
  • Sportage 1.6 T-GDI GT-Line DCT – R649 995
  • Sportage 1.6 T-GDI GT-Line Plus DCT – R677 995
  • Sportage 1.6 T-GDI GT-Line S DCT – R734 995

The price includes a five-year/unlimited km warranty and a six-services/90 000 km service plan.

For more information on the all-new Kia Sportage, visit the manufacturer’s website.

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