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Prettier Sportage unveiled

2010-03-05 09:08
Suburban kerb crawling gets a whole new look in the latest Kia Sportage and if you still doubt the Koreans, here’s one reason to reconsider.

This new Sportage is physically larger than the previous model, but it’s also infinitely prettier. Thank Peter Schreyer, design marvel and Audi refugee, for that. You can thank him, too, for the decidedly un-Koreans styling influences. Not that it’s a bad thing, of course.

While the second generation Sportage released in 2004 was huge step forward for Kia, this latest generation model is even more so.
With Schreyer offering direction, the new model shows off Kia’s new design language and incorporates many features first seen on the 2007 Kue concept.

The new compact SUV is wider, lower and longer than the model it replaces, but somehow manages to look chunky and not-too-imposing at the same time. Kia’s “tiger face”, to us, looks rather friendly…

Bigger, more presence

However, the SUV is given greater presence with its raked windscreen, strong profile and flared wheelarches (although the wider track front and rear should help, too).  

Inside the cabin, the dashboard with its sweeping design, which is broader at the sides and narrows towards the central dropdown, dominates. It is, Kia says, meant to emphasise the width of the car.

A longer rear overhang means the cargo space has increased, too, ranging from 564 to 1 353 litres.

More refined than its predecessor, this Sportage has a new, stiffer, bodyshell made of high tensile steel that is said to allow fewer vibrations to penetrate the cabin.

Ride and handling have been stepped up too, with the introduction of a new electric power steering system for more precise vehicle control and a new multi-link, fully independent rear suspension.

By Kia’s admission, the Sportage’s handling is biased towards on-road motoring, but all-wheel drive models have a manual “lock mode” that splits torque 50/50 between the front and rear axles. Neat for off-road and slippery on-road conditions…

Comes to South Africa this year

New Sportage is launched in Europe with a range of transmissions, and two- and four-wheel drive. 2.0-litre petrol and (a brand-new) turbodiesel models are offered, with two more following later. Several fuel saving technologies are standard, including a gearshift indicator for manual models, and Eco indicator on all automatics and a power-saving alternator.

New Sportage goes on sale in South Africa in August, although Kia SA won't say what the model spread will be.

Until then, prospective owners can expect a range of new safety features including, ABS and EBD, ESC with a rollover sensor that deploys the side and curtain airbags, and pretensions seatbelts where necessary, hill start assist, downhill brake control and flashing brake lights during emergencies.

Other features include xenon headlamps, LED running lights, keyless entry and start, a reversing camera and a full-length sunroof.

Either way you look at it, the new Sportage has to be one of the prettiest SUVs we’ve seen in a while.


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