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Kia Sportage SLi : Review & Road Test

Review by Michael Tancredi - 7 July 2016


The Sportage arrived in Australia back in 2010 and we've seen it evolve into this, it's fourth generation release earlier this year. This release is available in three styles, the Si, Sli and Platinum, and depending on the fit-out, ranges in price from $28,990* to $45,990*.

The Sportage is available in either in a petrol or diesel. All models come standard with a six speed automatic gearbox to drive either the front wheels (FWD) or all wheels (AWD) depending on the options chosen.

This release is slightly larger than the model it replaces but still fits within the compact SUV classification. Visually the Sportage has undergone several changes to it's overall look, both internally and externally. There have been noticeable changes to the front and rear profile and the bonnet has taken on a more sculptured look, Internally the vehicle has become more spacious, visibility has been improved, the finish has a more quality look and comfort and layout has been improved. Improvement to safety, noise, ride and handling and performance have also been engineered into this latest release.

This by far is the best Sportage model released to date and Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith, has said, “The new generation Sportage will continue the story started some five years ago, this time with even more style, more technology and more quality,”

We took the Kia Sportage out for a spin recently and were very impressed in some areas and a little disappointed in others.



  • Make: Kia
  • Model: Sportage SLi
  • Price: $33,990*
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
  • Engine: 2.0L In-line 4 Cylinder, DOHC 16 Valve, MPI D-CVVT (Petrol)
  • Max Power: 135kW
  • Max Torque: 237Nm
  • Fuel consumption: 10.9L/100kms
  • CO2 Emissions: 182g/km
  • Safety: 5 Star ANCAP Rated
  • Car Supplier: Kia Australia


Drive Engine Exterior Interior Safety


Drive: 3.75/5


The Kia Sportage is a extremely comfortable and easy vehicle to drive. The driver sits relatively high off the road and has an excellent view in all directions as well as a clear view of all instrumentation. The vehicle provided a smooth ride on all road surfaces and the suspension (front McPherson strut, rear Multi-link) handled unsealed roads effortlessly. Road noise up through the tyres was negligible at lower speeds but as the speed climbed passed 60kpm there was a concomitant increase in road noise. All still within manageable limits.

The neatly sculptured bonnet slopes sufficiently so that it doesn't present a visual distraction to the driver and obstruct close forward vision making it relatively easy to see obstacles forward of the vehicle when manoeuvring. However, the front sensors proved invaluable.

The 2L 4-cylinder engine is fairly responsive but tends to be a tad slow on the uptake. Acceleration is reasonable in automatic and when you plant the foot there's some lag and wind-up before acceleration kicks in. The six speed automatic transmission responds smoothly and changes to the appropriate gear when faced with hills and steep grades. Manual mode can be engaged at any time and is next to seamless. In manual mode responsiveness through the gears can be improved markedly particularly if needing more power and acceleration either on the straight or up an incline. It is a useful tool if you want to use it to drop down through the gears to assist braking.

We took the Sportage over a mixture of terrains: freeways, suburban streets and up and down winding country roads. We pushed it into corners and accelerated out of bends and drove over sealed and unsealed roads under wet and dry conditions. It performed extremely well on all surfaces and when pulling out of bends or chicanes at speed.. In the main, the vehicle held its line beautifully under hard braking (front brakes 305mm ventilated disc and rear 302mm solid disc) at various speeds, although we did experience some slight pull to the left after several hard braking exercises. Over rough terrain we did bounce about a bit in the cabin but during general driving everything was smooth sailing.



Engine / Transmission: 3.75/5


The Kia Sportage is available in either a 2.0L (petrol or diesel) or 2.4L (pertrol only) engines. The 2.0L litre petrol is an In-line 4 Cylinder, DOHC, Multi-Point Injection (MPI), Duel Continuous Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT), 16 valve engine and has a power output of 114kW @ 6200rpm and generates torque of 192Nm @ 4000rpm whereas the 2.0L diesel is an In-line 4 Cylinder, Electronic Variable Geometry Turbocharger (E-VGT), Common-Rail Direct Injection (CRDI), 16 valve engine that has a power output of 136kW @ 4000rpm and generates torque of 400Nm @ 1750 - 2750rpm. The 2.4 litre is an In-line 4 Cylinder, DOHC, Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), Duel Continuous Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT), 16 valve petrol engine and has a power output of 135kW @ 6000rpm and generates torque of 237Nm @ 4000rpm. Our test vehicle was the 2L petrol and it ran extremely smoothly and provided sufficient power and acceleration and, if you were after more "bang for your buck", it was just a matter of changing the Drive Mode to Sport.

The Si and SLi petrol are only available in front wheel drive (FWD) whereas the Platinum and all the diesels variants are only available in all-wheel drive (AWD). The Si and SLi are available in only the 2.0L petrol or 2.0L diesel. The Platinum comes in both the 2.4L petrol or the 2.0L diesel.

All models are only available in a 6 speed automatic with Sports-matic transmission option. Sports-matic mode is engaged by selecting D and moving the shift lever to the right. The driver then is able to move up and down the range manually. Only the Platinum comes standard with paddle shifters.

The stated average fuel consumption for the 2.0L petrol under controlled conditions is 7.9 L/100km, the 2.4L petrol, 8.5 L/100km and the 2.0L diesel, 6.8L/100km. According to the on-board computer for our SLi 2.0L petrol we clocked it at 9.7L/100km over suburban streets, highways and freeways and we pushed it pretty hard at times. Our actual consumption compared very favourably to that obtained under controlled conditions. What we'd call an very good result. We suspect the diesel would do even better.

CO2 claimed emission under a variety of driving conditions for the 2.0L petrol is 182g/km, the 2.4L petrol, 199 and for the 2.0L diesel 178g/km. As a guide, the Australian national average carbon emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles was 192g/km [Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2013 : Information Paper May 2014*]. For those conscious of their CO2 footprint this represents a better than average result.

Recommended fuel is 91 RON.

(*The represents a 3.4% reduction from the results of the 2012 Guide.)



Exterior: 4.00/5


The Sportage is the smaller of the two SUVs in the Kia range, the other being the Sorento.

It is a solid looking vehicle that presents a bold, imposing front profile with a distinctively shaped black grill with a black and chrome border and inset with mesh of small diamond shapes. Below the grill are two air intakes, a lower grid shaped air scoop and, above that, a slim vertical letter box shaped slot, looks a tad busy. Projector front fog lights sit boldly recessed into the lower front corners of the vehicle. The recess is painted black and with a three chromed fin feature.

In side profile, the front and rear headlights wrap to the side and, although the shape of the side windows suggests the vehicles roof line tapers to the rear, it is more square than at first glance. The roof line ends with a obligatory rear spoiler. The wheel guards and lower door panels are slightly flared and give the panels a distinctive shape and a rather sporty flair. Surrounding the door steps, lower rear and front bumpers and wheel arches is a black plastic stone guard.

The Sportage sits on 17", 18" or 19" alloy wheels within 225/60 R17, 225/55 R18 or 245/45 R18 tyres depending on whether it's the Si, SLi or Platinum respectively. The dimensions are: 4480mm long, 1645mm high (1665 with roof rails) and 1855mm wide and has a wheel base of 2670mm. Its turning circle is 10.6 metres kerb to kerb. All models come with a full sized spare wheel.

All models come standard with roof rails.

Apart from the grill, fog light surrounds, window edging and pillars, wheel arch mouldings, lower stone guard and step the body is one solid colour. There are seven paint options from which to choose (1 standard and 6 premium, the premium incurs an extra charge). Our test vehicle came in prestige Fiery Red.




Safety: 4.00/5


The Kia Sportage has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP safety rating with an overall score of 34.62 out of 37.

Standard with the Rio are: driver and front passenger SRS airbags and front side SRS impact airbags and curtain SRS.

Other standard safety features include:

  • anti-lock braking system (ABS) with;
  • electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD); which varies the amount of force applied to each of a vehicle's wheels, based on road conditions, speed, loading, etc;
  • brake assist (BA); which applies extra force when braking if it senses an emergency situation;
  • downhill brake control (DBC); which, when engaged, automatically limits the down hill speed of the vehicle on slippery or steep slopes without the driver having to ride the brake;
  • electronic stability control (ESC) or electronic stability program (ESP); which improves a vehicle's stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding) by detecting loss of steering control by automatically applying the brakes to wheels individually;
  • emergency stop signal (ESS); which causes the brakes and hazard lights to flash when the brakes are applied with force in an emergency stopping situation; and
  • hill start assist control (HAC); to prevent the car from rolling when starting on an incline.

All models come standard with an array of safety feature including rear (x4) and front (x4 [not available with Si]) acoustic and visual parking sensors and rear view camera with screen display & dynamic parking guidelines. Only available on the Platinum are lane departure warning, blind spot detection, lane change assist forward collision warning and rear cross traffic alert and automatic emergency braking systems.



Interior: 4.00/5


The Sportage a classy interior finish and is very roomy with lots of head and leg room for front and back seat passengers. There is more than enough elbow room for to three average sized adult passengers to fit comfortably. The design is such that back seat passengers don't feel isolated. The driver sit high and has a clear view in all directions. The view forward is excellent and the downward sloping bonnet provides a reasonable view of obsticles when parking nose to kerb although the front sensors are a welcome addition.

The driver and front passenger seats are extremely comfortable and supportive of the body and flanks. The front seats in the SLi and Platinum can be electrically adjusted in up to 10 directions (six for the Si). The upholstery is leather trim with contrasting stitching in the SLi and Platinum and cloth trim in the Si.

The leather steering wheel in the Si and SLi fits comfortably in the hand and is a good shape and size and houses the entertainment, telephone and cruise controls and the on-board computer controller. All are easily manipulated by the respective thumb and are intuitive to use and was a combination of button and toggle controllers. The Platinum steering wheel has a flat bottom, sporty design.

The driver is in easy reach of all controls and had good line of sight to all instrumentation. The dash instrumentation was uncluttered and comprises a analogue/digital mix made up of a good sized circular speedometer and twin circular tachometer separated by fair sized squarish screen that displays the on-board computers digital read out. The temperature and petrol gauges sit within the tacho and speedo respectively. The dials and display were easy to read with a good contrast and largish numbers. The dials were white lettering on black background with red needles.

The entertainment system powered the AM/FM radio and could handle input from, USB (x2 with one of those available to rear passengers), Aux, Bluetooth® and iPod. Output was via a six speaker system located to the front and rear of the cabin. The sound was sufficient for the job and could handle the volume when ratcheted up.

All functions could be managed/monitored through the 7" colour LCD touch screen. The SLi and Platinum models came standard with a SUNA™ satellite navigation multimedia system with traffic information. The system was straight forward and intuitive to use, was easy to program and read and provided good distinct voice instructions.

The duel zone climate control system in the SLi and Platinum provided more than adequate volumes of air and ran quietly but became became progressively louder the higher the fan was set. (At full setting it was noticeably loud). It has a fair range between cold and hot. Heating or cooling kicked in sufficiently quickly. The Si comes standard with a manual air-conditioning system.

There is more than ample storage for anything from cups, maps, papers, books, bottles and all other paraphernalia that you may need while driving.

The rear cargo area can hold up to up to 466 litres with the rear seat up and up to 1,455 litre with the 60/40 rear seat folded forward. When the split rear seat is folded forward it sits flush the floor of the rear cargo area which makes it that little easier when loading long parcels. The rear seat back was easy to lower and raise and the mechanism took a bit of finding as it is located in the lower outside edge of the rear seat.



Overall: 3.75/5


The Sportage is mid sized SUV with a sport look to it. It looks good, it drives well, is very roomy (comfortably fits five passengers) and provides a smooth and comfortable ride. Depending on the model is has with ample features, enough to satisfy most drivers. While it provides good fuel consumption its CO2 output is just average.

While it's 2.0L engine did what was asked, we found it to be a bit sluggish in performance and not the most responsive. We found manually changing gears improved both acceleration and responsiveness, however that defeats the purpose of being an automatic.

Kia must have great faith in the reliability and performance of their vehicles as they are willing to offer an extremely attractive, 7-year warranty, 7-year capped price servicing and 7-year roadside assist.


* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Kia dealer.


Pros: Cons:
  • Easy handling & Roominess
  • Fuel Economy
  • Style & Look
  • Average Emissions
  • Lacking Power
  • Side Pull When Braking



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