2018 Kia Sportage GT Line - Baseline GT
Kia’s Sportage continues to be a big mover here with over 2500 sales so far this year. That’s quite exceptional as SUV buyers with $30k to $40k to splurge don’t lack for buying options. Helping twist arms towards a new Sportage, the model has been given a mid-term spruce up.
This involves a mild cosmetic makeover and a safety equipment upgrade, with all models now benefiting from autonomous emergency braking and a lane keeping and departure warning system.
The look is perhaps one of the reasons buyers like Sportage, so the freshen up doesn’t mess too much with the formula. Up front, the ‘tiger nose’ grille has evolved subtly, they’ve added a horizontal styling element through the bumper, and the front light clusters are reformed.
We drove the GT Line, which gets a sports body kit, and is made to look even glitzier with new LED headlights and ‘X-wing’ LED daytime running lights, sure to make any TIE fighter pilot nervous in traffic.
Bigger 19s mark out the change to the profile while the rear bumper and taillights have been redesigned. Key to Sportage success is the range of options available with nine variants on offer but it’s the 2.0-litre 2WD models people mainly buy, helped by frequent promotional pricing. For instance, when we penned this report, the entry-level LX was on offer for just $30k.
This GT Line Urban model is new, replacing the Limited 2WD. It goes for $45,990 while the 2.4 AWD GT Line is $51,990, or $54,990 as a diesel. While the oiler now gets a new eight-speed auto, the petrol variants soldier on with the six-speeder.
A pity, as a couple of extra ratios would help this old 2.0-litre four. It lacks for both direct injection and a blower and so makes 114kW and 192Nm, the latter at a busy 4000rpm. And while it moves the Sportage along reasonably in traffic, you tend to keep your foot lingering on the pedal in order to seek out the torque.
The round-town fuel use we noted in the 10L/100km range, which is about what Kia claims. Its overall combined figure is listed as 8.2L/100km and this you’ll likely see with more motorway miles accumulated.
The new lane keeping system does its job well and while it’s good to have AEB on hand, the upgrade didn’t extend to active cruise control, more’s the pity. The Sportage range has been put through the usual ‘localised suspension tuning’ job over at Kia Australia but there are now three distinct set-ups; the LX and EX models come with a comfort tune, diesel variants get a ‘compliant and rounded ride’ while the GT Line gains a sporty tune, one with ‘agile and athletic handling’.
That translates to a busier urban ride, with the GT Line likely to detect more of the bumps on your street. While not crashy, it’s not quite as compliant as some might be expecting. Best opt for the EX if you’re after a more serene ride to work. The GT’s suspenders work better when you drive with more intent.
The bumps are dealt with efficiently at speed and when pressed into bends the front turns with commitment. It holds a line well until you start getting carried away, which is when the ESP intervenes neatly to avoid any unsightly understeer.
It’s quite a lively drive, for what it is, though the 2.0-litre struggles to carry off the GT Line’s aspirations. It needs to be worked pretty thoroughly, especially if overtaking as the best performance lies in the 4000-6000rpm band where it’s quite vocal. Perhaps the better GT Line model would be the diesel with AWD, eight gears and a lot more torque.
Another of Sportage’s bowstrings is its convenient size, being city friendly but spacious with both a usefully-sized boot (accessed here via a powered tailgate) and comfortable rear seat accommodations.
The rear doors open out wide for good access and passengers fare well for space in all directions. GT Line drivers get a good pew up front with a new composite leather trim that’s soft to the touch. There’s smart key convenience, heated and ventilated seats and a larger eight-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system.
While this integrates nicely into the dash, it sits above a mass of buttons that reminds us this vehicle has been around for a few years now. The screen though has a good resolution for the sat nav and reverse camera operations, and is compatible with both breeds of smartphone.
There’s a wireless charge pad too, and upgraded audio. The GT Line-specific steering wheel gives a lift to the cabin, which is well built, with enough soft spots about the place to carry its $45k ask.
If the 2.0-litre Sportage will do you, we say try the EX as well; you might find the ride more agreeable.
Model Kia Sportage GT Line Urban Price $45,990
Engine 1999cc, IL4, EFI, 114kW/192Nm
Transmission 6-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Vitals 10.76sec 0-100km/h, 8.2L/100km, 190g/km, 1518kg