Wheels: Kia Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus tested
Words by Hanjo Stier
Where are the keyless touch-screen gadgets? Not here, thank Heavens…
Many years ago I learnt a valuable lesson. Upon ignoring most of my advice, a friend had bought herself a spanking-new BMW 1-Series and proudly brought the car over for my final approval. Painted in obligatory bakkie white, I was surprised to find cloth seats inside. Surprise turned to shock when I saw its basic ventilation controls…
It turns out that South African press cars almost always come with top-spec trim and plenty of tasty extras – something our UK peers rebelled against many years ago – so we’re forever blinded by cool toys and plush accoutrements. Not this time, though. The metallic blue Kia Sportage you see on these pages came to us in a pleasingly simple spec.
Mind you, Kia is one of those brands where optional extras are a novelty because their models are fairly well –specified; often with escalating trim levels. Knowing that Sportage be a top seller in our SUV-bedonnerd market, they’ve dispatched no less than nine models with the choice of three engines, three gearboxes, front- or all-wheel drive and four spec lines.
I’m fairly certain that this 2.0 CRDi Ignite Plus will be the local hero because it offers everything the modern urbanite could want: Turbo-diesel, Automatic, front-wheel drive, big boot (466L), folding rear seats (for an extra 990L), ISOFIX, six airbags, rear park peepers, hill start assist, auto lights, Bluetooth and plenty of emergency / driver aids.
Where it gets interesting to me is that this version has (tasteful) cloth seats with manual front adjustment, an easily comprehensible radio, manual air-conditioning, no keyless entry or auto wiper nonsense, and a manual handbrake as opposed to that button-operated electric malarkey. My Mum would love it.
There are models which can give you the desirable thirty-inch touch screen with remote charging rocket launchers and CarAutoPlay but I for one enjoyed the basic audio device fitted to this vehicle. Tuning the radio, connecting a phone or playing USB music didn’t require a six hour tutorial and two degrees in engineering.
Furthermore, those cloth seats are much kinder to your backside because they won’t amplify whatever ambient temperature happens to prevail. At least not as much as black leather, which is another local car sales requirement. Don’t believe me? The Sportage brochure doesn’t even list interior colour options…
You can get a bit adventurous with the exterior paint palette: from black to grey, silver, blue, red, brown and two whites. Depending on the chosen model, wheel sizes range from 16 inches (on the base model) over the 17-inch with sensible 225/60 rubber fitted here to 19 inches for the dearer ones. All wheels are alloys with attractive designs.
Speaking of which, I think that the Kia Sportage currently ranks among the better looking SUV’s out there. Its overall styling is contemporary with interesting details and decent proportions. I’m not a fan of the flared-nostril “Tiger’s Nose” but other people certainly are; like my wife, who nicked this car off me a few times.
Why? Because driving the Auto Diesel Sportage is precisely as easy and comfortable as you’d expect. It performs, brakes and handles well with the obligatory McPherson strut setup in front and a multi-link suspension at the back. Steering feel is on the vague and light side, which most SUV buyers will appreciate.
The 1995cc in-line four cylinder turbo-diesel engine shoves respectable maximum outputs of 131kW and 400Nm through a butter-smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox. That last figure – peak torque – is available from 1,750rpm to 2,750rpm and the box ‘o cogs is programmed to stay in that band for excellent progress at all times.
Full throttle commands send the tachometer needle near its indicated red-zone of about 4,500rpm in repeated swoops of a lovely linear (albeit noisy) power delivery. Our performance tests yielded a best 0-100km/h time of 8.93 seconds; Kia S.A. claims 9.3 seconds and a top speed of 201km/h.
They also allege average fuel use of about 8L/100km from the 62L tank but the car’s 1,460kg dry weight will add a litre or three in stop-start traffic. However, that figure is absolutely plausible out on the open road. A once-off emergency brake test from 100km/h was absolved in 2.72 seconds and 37.58m; both superb values for an SUV.
I also pushed it beyond its comfort zone: far too quickly into a sharp (but wide) bend where the ESP system immediately countered an over-steering front axle. Yet again, exactly what I would expect from a modern SUV which is tasked with safe and comfortable transport for individuals and families around the country.
Its price of R410 995 includes an unlimited-mileage / five-year warranty and decent service plan (five-years or 90,000km). That isn’t exactly a bargain, but I believe that the Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi Ignite Plus gets all the basics right while ignoring the current trend of self-driving twin-touch gadgetry.
It’s also considerably cheaper than even the most basic BMW 1-Series…
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