Cars

Published on May 28th, 2017 | by Subhash Nair

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Kia Sportage 2.0 GT Line Review: Premium Styling Without the Premium Price tag

The Kia Sportage has long stood in the shadows of its competitors. It was always the crossover that won solely on value. The previous generation changed things up with a bold design that could have passed for European. This new Sportage takes the design game to a whole new level.

But before even considering how it looks, we have to hand it to Kia for creating a complete product. In the past, when a car was good looking AND well-priced, the product itself would be fundamentally flawed. This one has all the basics done right. Build quality, material choices, ergonomics, comfort, driving characteristics… The Sportage is sorted in all categories without exceeding or falling short in any one.

For the petrol version of the Sportage, there are two trim levels. A entry-level “KX” model, and an upper tier ‘GT Line’ specification, which is what we tested. It’s pretty clear that the GT Line is the one to go for. At RM117,559, the base model is quite tempting as a value option, but with the design game being this strong, it’s difficult to not recommend the GT Line.

Under the hood sits a modern 2-litre petrol engine with a 6-speed automatic feeding power to the front wheels. Buyers can be thankful that the Koreans have shied away from CVTs, as the automatic provides a more engaging driving experience and none of that whine.

The whole setup provides good comfort and adequate power. On the highway, the Sportage ticks all the boxes, providing a quiet, satisfying ride with no red flags. This is thanks in no small part to the suspension design. The Sportage, like its older brother, the Sorento, gets Macpherson-style struts up front with multi-link rear suspension.

Fuel efficiency was also on par with most 2-litre crossovers of this size. Thanks to a drive mode function, you can squeeze a few more kms per litre in ECO mode. There is a SPORT mode but it feels a little tacked on. Another feature that doesn’t really belong on this front-wheel drive crossover is Downhill Brake Control.

Unlike Cruise Control (which was nice to have on the highway), Downhill Brake Control served no practical purpose on regular roads.

The model we tested came in the ‘GT Line’ spec. In terms of performance, there isn’t a difference. Some might bring up the larger 19” alloy wheels and paddle shifters, but for a vehicle of this sort, the difference is negligible. That being said, these are features that most modern car buyers look for.

The real appeal of the ‘GT Line’ is its aesthetics. Some additions are minor, like wing-mirror integrated turn signals. But other things change the car quite substantially. You get Kia’s cool new ice cube foglights, for one. We thought these would look a little tacky, but in the metal, they work really well with the rest of the car’s design.

And speaking of the car’s design, it’s certainly a lot more premium than its predecessor… In fact, it looks a lot more expensive than some of its rivals. Kia should really pat themselves on the back for a design job well done. All the more reason for shoppers to take the design to its logical conclusion with the GT Line spec.

Occupants will also benefit from going with this trim level. Inside you’ll find plush leather seats with suede. The front seats are power adjustable, and the climate control is automatic with dual zone settings (though both variants have rear blowers).

The GT Line also spoils you with keyless entry and start, so you can leave that fob in your pocket. Auto lights are standard, but spend that extra cash and you get auto wipers too.

The driver will appreciate the front parking sensors too. Regardless of which Sportage you make your own, you will get 6 airbags and stability control.

The interior is pleasant with no jarring design features. While some may really like the direction that Kia have gone here, it’s clear that no one will be offended by anything. Again, for a car of this sort, simple, straightforward designs are the best. Kia did it right. All the lines are clean and all the buttons are where they should be.

A small but welcome centrepiece is the 4.2” TFT-LCD display or ‘supervision cluster’ as Kia calls it. Just like the rest of the interior, this thing is functional and easy to get used to. A pleasant surprise is the sound system. For a car of this size, 6-speakers are plenty. So the fact that Kia have equipped it with 8 earns them a thumbs up. These speakers are part of a JBL sound system.

The Sportage is quite an interesting take on the crossover. As a package, it is on par with what’s offered from Japan. But design-wise, it is on a whole other level. It’s really strange to find premium curves on something as affordable as this. Yet for all their bravado, Kia isn’t pretending that this is a premium product. All they’re trying to do is to show people that expensive looks don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. And this has single-handedly elevated the standing of the ‘Sportage’ name.


Kia Sportage 2.0 GT Line Specifications

Engine: Inline 4 with Dual Variable Valve Timing
Capacity: 1,999cc
Gearbox: 6-speed Automatic
Max power: 153bhp @ 6,200rpm
Max torque: 192Nm @ 4,000Nm


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