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KIA SPORTAGE

With a few notable exceptions, by the time a movie franchise releases a fifth film, it tends to be winding down or, in some cases, on its last desperate legs. Luckily the same cannot be said about the fifth generation Kia Sportage, which broke cover recently and revealed itself to be every inch a Hollywood-worthy superstar. 

The Sportage has been around the block many times. The first generation – with a decidedly utilitarian feel – debuted in 1993 and went through several nips and tucks during its ten years of production – including being the world’s first production car to come equipped with a knee airbag. The more refined and lifestyle-orientated second generation was launched in 2004, but it was the third-generation model that proved a game changer for Kia when it arrived on the scene in 2010.   

It revolutionised perceptions of the compact Kia crossover, garnered a slew of international awards, and is still considered one of legendary car designer Peter Schreyer’s finest creations. The fourth generation Sportage also ticked all the right design boxes when it was launched in SA in 2016, with Kia’s winning streak looking to be well and truly assured when the new Sportage was recently unveiled in Cape Town. 

While it is markedly different from its predecessor, the latest Sportage retains its legacy of innovative design, excellent build quality and superb attention to detail. 

FLAWLESS DESIGN

Its tiger nose grille is distinctively Kia, and has been accessorised with a detailed graphic design and flanked on either side with futuristic boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights and Matrix LED headlights. A chrome beltline and chrome detailing over the rear spoiler add a touch of interest and sophistication while also highlighting the Sportage’s clean, muscular lines, and sporty character. Striking new wheel designs (17, 18 or 19″ depending on the model) and deluxe scuff plates (on the GT-Line) complete the look.

Inside, the star of the show is undoubtedly the integrated curved display that sweeps across the dash incorporating the touchscreen infotainment system and the driver’s instrument cluster in one beautifully sculpted screen – much like an Imax theatre (if we’re going to keep flogging our movie analogy). This display makes the Sportage’s various functions highly user-friendly for both the driver and the passenger. Occupants are also well looked after, with supremely comfortable seats and lots of soft-touch materials cladding the cabin. 

FIVE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER

The new Sportage is not only the fifth of its name but will also be available in a choice of five iterations. All five boast the same 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol engine mated exclusively with an advanced version of Kia’s seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). The latter changes gears as smooth as butter, while the former is well powered and made light work of the Cape passes and highways we traversed on our launch drive. 

SPOILT FOR CHOICE

Where the five models deviate is in their list of standard features and nice-to-haves, offering more choices to buyers who will appreciate the individualistic character of the Sportage. 

The Sportage LX kicks off the range, but I am loath to call it the base model as there is nothing “base” about its offerings. It comes standard with LED headlights, running lights and fog lamps, electrically adjustable and foldable outside mirrors, dual automatic temperature control, the 12.3” curved touchscreen infotainment system (with all the requisite connectivity options) and a reverse camera. There is also Drive Mode Select (for a choice of Comfort, Eco, Sport, or Smart drive settings) and standard Blind Spot Collision Warning. Level up to the EX, and you add front parking sensors, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

For those looking to up the sportiness of their Sportage, the fifth generation comes in three GT-Line trims. The first boasts 18” alloy wheels, deluxe scuff plates, alloy pedals, electric tailgate and paddle gear-shifters, plus a host of driver assistance systems, including Lane Follow Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist. The GT-Line Plus throws in a panoramic glass sunroof, sporty 19″ alloy wheels, and gloss black exterior trims. 

The movie franchise’s headline star, or halo model, in this case, is the GT-Line S that retains the exterior look of the GT-Line Plus, but adds ventilated seats, a rotary gearshift dial with shift-by-wire technology, an intelligent front lighting system and smart cruise control.

LAST WORD

The evolution of the Sportage is what movie dreams are made of. Each model continues to improve on the former. The latest release offers a compelling value proposition for a car crammed with standard features and is available in enough models to suit a host of buyer requirements. We look forward to spending some more time with this classy number because if the trailer is anything to go by, it will be a blockbuster.

Report by NICKY FURNISS | Images © KIA SOUTH AFRICA

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