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Journeys : Oct Nov 2010
October / November 2010 21 Kia Sportage The release of the third generation Sportage marks a line in the sand, according to Kia Australia's PR guru Kevin Hepworth. From now on, Kia vehicles will have ride and handling developed for Australian roads and conditions. The new Sportage is the first of these vehicles. In recent years, the Koreans have been know n for producing good-quality cars offering excellent value for money, backing that up with almost class-leading war ranties. What they haven't been know n for is ride and handling. Well, I'm pleased to report they just might have added ride and handling to their credentials. I'm not saying this car is perfect, but with the help of some souther n hemisphere know-how, they are well down the track of conquering that final frontier. Despite a short drive program around picturesque Queenstown in New Zealand's South Island, it was clear that improvements were evident over kissing cousin Hyundai ix35. The Sportage has nice weight through the wheel on winding roads, although it's a little doughy on or around centre. It points well into cor ners, with spring and damper tune well above-average for the compact SUV class. Mechanical variants start with the Si, 2wd 2.0l engine with either five-speed manual or six-speed auto. Standard fare includes alloy wheels, front fog lamps, steering wheel-mounted controls for audio and cruise control, six airbags, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), ABS (Automatic Braking System), TCS (Traction Control System), DBC (Dow nhill Brake Control) and HAC (Hillstart Assist Control). All models have full USB and iPod connectivity. Mid spec SLi ups the ante with a 2.4l petrol or 2.0l turbo diesel power plants, six- speed auto-only transmission and a unique-to-Kia Dynama x AWD system giving a fully-active AWD coupling system that provides maximum efficiency with optimal drive and traction for all driving situations. Also add leather steering wheel, rear-view camera with the screen cleverly housed within the rear-view mirror, auto headlights, dual-zone climate control and electric driver's seat. The top-of-the-line Platinum includes leather seats, LED DRLs (Daytime Running Lights), 18" alloys, six-CD changer with exter nal amp and subwoofer, smart key ignition, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, panoramic sunroof and the list goes on. Priced at under $39,000 plus on roads for a fully-optioned diesel, it will take a power of beating in style, perfor mance and value for money. The 2.0l Si provides entry level into a stylish compact SUV from just under $26,000 plus on roads but the best value in my opinion is the mid-spec Sli. You get the beefier 2.4l engine, six-speed auto and AWD system, plus all the previously- mentioned upgrade items for around $32,000. If you can afford the extra money for the diesel engine you won't be disappointed. Almost 400Nm of torque from 1800rpm will ensure you're never going to be short on urge when needed. The six-speed auto is smooth and slick, coupled to the petrol or diesel engines. Kia is expecting a 5-star ANCAP rating when the Sportage is tested later in the year. I'm looking for ward to the opportunity for a longer drive soon. Life on the move
Aug Sep 2010