CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Kia’s third-generation Sportage was launched to the local motoring media back in August 2010 and since then has won a number of automotive awards and – the real proof of the pudding – sold more than 9000 units in South Africa.Now, just launched in South Africa, there’s a face-lifted and tweaked version of the Gen3 - nine two-litre models in all, four with all-wheel drive and four of them diesel.Prices range from R310 000 to R409 000 (full list below).Back in 2010, the Kia Sportage looked like this.GURU'S WORK 'WELL RECEIVED'There were 10 models then, also starting with the Ignite model, all but one a two-litre petrol or diesel; the oddball was a 2.4 petrol, since discontinued in South Africa. The car was one of design guru Peter Schreyer’s startlingly different products that put Kia on the map as vehicles deserving of a second glance.IMAGE GALLERY: Sportage does the CapePrices then ranged from R250 000 to R330 000 – which just goes to show how the rand has gone down the tubes since then.David Sieff, Kia Motors SA’s marketing director, enlarged: “The third-generation Sportage was very well received by the SA public and motoring media. It has been one of our best-selling vehicles and this can be attributed to its stylish looks, competitive performance, state-of-the-art features and overall value.”Now Kia SA has upgraded the already well-equipped model with what it describes as “small but significant upgrades to its modern exterior as well as a refreshed interior design and new materials throughout the cabin”.It will be available with a choice of two engines, a 2.0 D-CVVT petrol and a more powerful 2.0 VGT CRDi diesel. The petrol engine claims to be more refined and is now hooked to a six-speed manual or auto transmission resulting in, Kia says, lower fuel-consumption.Steering assistance on the diesels has been changed from hydraulic to engine-driven and a number of changes have been made to minimise noise, vibration and harshness. Diesel or petrol power is available for each of the three specification packages: entry-level Ignite, a two-wheel drive version.NEW TOUCHSCREENThe unit I drove – the top-of-the-range, full-house Sportage AWD CRDi 2.0 auto – comes with all the creature comforts you’d expect to find in a top-end luxury car, including leather, autocruise, auto aircon, steering-wheel audio/cruise/phone controls, a big and crystal-clear central 11cm LCD touchscreen that doubles as the display for a reversing camera, power windows and mirrors and an Infinity sound system with a built-in sub-woofer, external amplifier and built-in hard drive, USB connector and charger sockets.Other models also have a new screen to replace the dot-matrix one of the previous model.The key fob handles door release and ignition – just press the start/stop button left of the steering-wheel – and the auto shift lever handles full auto or manual sequential shifts.Kia is cool with colour – while the plastics are mostly the hard variety the controls and displays vary through red, green, blue, white and yellow; cheerful and welcoming on a misty Cape morning.Three things missing: satnav, vertical adjustment for the steering-wheel and steering column paddle shifts. But a plus for a robust grab-handle for the passenger sprouting from the transmission tunnel.CONSOLE STORAGEYou’ll be hard-pressed to immediately notice the changes to the exterior but for sure the result is still a handsome SUV. The grille has been reshaped, as have the front fog lights and lower bumper. There are new 17 or 18” alloy rims and the rear light-clusters have been made “more striking”.The centre console storage binnacle now has a detachable tray which can accommodate small items.The new 2.0 CVVT petrol engine replaces its predecessor. It makes 116kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm. The former five-speed manual gearbox has been replaced by a smoother and more refined six-speed – another step to lower fuel consumption.The 2.0 VGT CRDi diesel impressed with its tractability, especially in sixth. At 120km/h it’s turning over at only 2000rpm and, despite its 130kW at 4000rpm and 382Nm from 1800-2500rpm, I reckon a good driver should be able to get around eight litres/100km without much difficulty. Less on a long, lightly loaded run.DESIGN AWARDSI’m a diesel fan: this is one of the nicest I’ve driven – you can hear it working, but I like that. And there’s something reassuring about a gentle grumble talking to you through the firewall.This the latest Sportage’s awards include a number of design awards and Car of the Year titles, among them being a finalist in the 2011 SA Coty and, in December 2013, overall winner in the SUV and cross-over category in the annual SA Standard Bank People’s Wheels awards.The upgraded Sportage will be available in eight colours: Clear White, Bright Silver, Mineral Silver, Sand Track, Black Cherry, Vintage Blue, Signal Red and Sage Green.All models are delivered with a five-year or 150 000km warranty, a five-year or 100 000km service plan and three years of roadside assistance.RETAIL PRICESPetrolSportage 2WD 2.0 Ignite - R309 995Sportage 2WD 2.0 - R336 995Sportage 2WD 2.0 a/t - R348 995Sportage AWD 2.0 - R371 995Sportage AWD 2.0 a/t - R383 995Sportage 2WD CRDi 2.0 - R361 995Sportage 2WD CRDi 2.0 a/t - R373 995DieselSportage AWD CRDi 2.0 - R396 995Sportage AWD CRDi 2.0 a/t - R408 995Optional sunroof (AWD only) - R11 000Learn more about the 2014 Kia Sportage.Kia Sportage full specifications.