Published on March 15th, 2019 | by Subhash Nair


Kia Sportage GT First Impressions: Beautiful and Built Like a Tank

We recently took the Kia Sportage GT Diesel for a test drive for our VOTY 2019 awards. We didn’t get to spend much time with it, but it left a very strong impression. Here’s what we thought of the car.

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They Don’t Build Them Like They Used to

There exists a split in the automotive industry between brands who have something to prove and brands that have already ‘made it’. Kia, falls into the former category. As such, you can tell immediately that they’ve paid extra attention to certain aspects that other brands have started to skimp on. The interior of the Sportage GT isn’t striking. In fact, for a car of this category, it’s rather bland. But it has something that many of its competitors just don’t offer: build quality. The door cards, dashboard, signal stalks, switchgear, and many other interior parts are extremely well put together. This is the kind of construction one would expect from an Audi from the early 2000s. Not very exciting to look at, but nothing in here is flimsy.

Great once you get up to speed

Diesel passenger cars in Malaysia have never really made a great impression. Even with a relatively modern diesel like the one in the Sportage, the disadvantages can still be felt. There’s a constant guttural drone at idle-to-low speeds accompanied by vibrations that you just can’t ignore. That being said, once you get the Sportage GT up to about 60km/h, all the complaints about the diesel disappear. At that speed, the NVH is comparable to a petrol car, provided you’re just cruising around. And at that speed, the 400Nm of torque is way more than any other competitor can offer. Whether you’re driving it a little hard or just gliding around, the Kia Sportage GT Diesel comes alive at these speeds. The 8-speed gearbox also helps keep the engine revving rather low. We don’t doubt it’s a frugal car.

It has Character

I think Kia have nailed the design of the Sportage relatively well in the last couple of generations. The previous one, in fact, still looks rather fresh today. But what this new generation brings is character and confidence. It has elements that you find on some very premium brands like Lynk & Co (headlights) as well as the Macan (silhouette). And unlike premium brands, Kia are not afraid to add a little ‘business’ to the design. This makes it more of a head turner. For a car costing RM145K, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth in terms of exterior looks.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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