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Reader's ride: 2010 Kia Sportage

2013-05-30 09:23

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Wheels24 reader KOBUS LOUW says that although his Kia Sportage proved to be a reliable and practical SUV, the Korean automaker has much to improve on.


“I had returned from Europe after living there for eight years. Not having a car in South Africa is like having no public transport in Europe.

So the hunt was on to find a vehicle to fit my budget and needs.

I ended up looking at some kind of station wagon as I started my own company in SA and sometimes had to transport large items.


New to the SUV market I was not sure that I needed an actual 4x4. So I ended up purchasing the latest Kia Sportage 2.0 Auto in September 2010.
Back then it was still new to the market and had yet to earn its stripes. I admit I was skeptical about the brand.

Living in Europe, you soon forget about brands as the German trio (Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz) and even Volkswagen is nothing special on their roads.

Cars are parked in the streets, dirty and scratched, whereas here we worship our cars.

I liked the Kia due to its design and value for money it offered.

Quality a topic no-one can get enough of when it comes to Kia. They have evolved in the past five years at an alarming rate in terms of design and quality.

Reliability has never been a huge issue so they could only improve in other areas. The Sportage has a very prestigious presence on the road when you compare it with many other SUVs or cross-overs.

It presents itself as something bigger and grander than it is. You want to look at it.

Most of the colours it’s available in are attractive to the shape and size of the car and it never looks cheap or second rate.
One issue I had with the exterior was the quality of Kia’s paintwork. This seemed to not only be an issue in my case but also with my friend’s 2010 Kia Cerato.

It was as it Kia did not use enough paint on the final coat of the car. I could see it very clearly on my rear doors as if there was an uneven wave of the colour. Despite this I never had any rust issues or peeling paint. I just wished the automaker would use a better quality spraying technique or higher quality paint.
There was also an issues with the rear indicator light. My SUV used to stand a lot in the sun at work.

I tend to park it one day with the front facing the afternoon sun, then rotate the next day.  We all know the African sun is harsh and fading will occur.

Experts can say what they want but after two years the rear indicator lights seemed to shed thin layers of plastic.

It did not seem to damaged the lights, but it was nearly like fish scales coming off the lights.

Sun damage or poor quality?  I’m not sure.

The Sportage had massive amounts of space. Most of my friends commented on how spacious the model was although it did not look much bigger than a VW Golf on stilts. My SUV had leather upholstery, so it was easy to clean and had an upmarket feel to it.

Most of the plastics were of a higher quality but very few were soft touch. The most important areas like the leather steering wheel, gear lever, hand brake, radio and aircon controls were nice to touch.

The nice to haves like climate control, cruise control, multifunction steering wheel, USB, power driver seat, cooled clove compartment and iPhone connectivity this car offers are what most luxury brands do not offer as standard.

The dashboard, upper door areas and centre console were finished in hard plastic. I guess this vehicle is more geared towards families and therefore they are more robust this way.

All the points the Sportage scored on its looks and design were lost when it came to the level or refinement of materials inside the cabin.
One cause for concern is that the plastics seemed to lose its colour quite easily. Grey is grey, but when you had a box or two loaded in the boot and it rubbed against the plastic areas, it nearly looked like the top layer of the plastic rubbed off.

The colour stayed the same but there always seemed to be a dull mark left behind. This was also the case in the plastics of the cabin.

This is an area where Kia generally still has to improve. The Sportage was a great car to drive in the sense that it was high-riding and had steady feel on the road. For such a high vehicle with 175mm ground clearance it had good road handling.

Even on wet surfaces I always felt very secure and comfortable. The auto was smooth but  sometimes it was a bit confused if you started to drive fast and then slow.

It did not quite know how to read your driving style and tended to delay gear changes as if it wanted to first see what your next step was going to be.

It would have been nice to have paddles on the steering wheel but at the time of purchase the paddle-shifts were not available.

When it comes to ride quality and refinement, the picture looks less perfect. The ride was harsh most of the time, so much so that I ended up reducing the pressure in my tyres to compensate.

Sadly this did not make much of a difference.

With most SUV, due to the height, they need to stiffen the suspension to enable the vehicle to have descent road handling.

Another issue was the engine. Although it's powered by a 2.0 with 122KW/197NM, it was weak. VW has small 1.4 engines with more torque.

The gearbox had to kick down most of the time, even on open roads when the wind was blowing from the front or on a slight uphill. The kick down was not just one gear but in most cases two gears, so the engine ended up revving so high that it was embarrassing.

In most cases when I was on the open road I switched the gears to manual mode into 6th gear. This worked for me, but was annoying as I was driving an automatic, which I used as a manual. In town thought the automatic worked brilliantly.
Fuel consumption was also not the best. Kia said that the Sportage uses around 9 liters/100km. I never achieved anything less than 10 – 10.5 litres/100km.

Was this bad? Well it’s great as I was mostly used the vehicle on my own and not loaded with any luggage.

I think this is again another area where Kia could improve. Diesels were apparently not much better with fuel consumption.

In Europe they have more fuel efficient diesel engines. This is probably due to our dirty diesel. That is also no excuse as most other brands are importing next-generation diesel engines and we are able to buy cleaner 50pp diesel at most garages.

Would I buy one again? YES.

If I need a larger practical car again, I would definitely consider buying Sportage again. Hopefully by that time they would have sorted most of their refinement issues and hopefully not increased their prices to the level of more upmarket brands.

If you want a value for money family car with great looks, practicality and reliability then this is a car you should definitely consider.”

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