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Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line

Click to view picture gallery“Its boom-time for Sports Utility
  Vehicles
in 2015 they took
  almost a quarter of the
European
 
market, selling over three million
  And with 5,000 ordered in its first
  month of going on sale, Kia
s
  all-new compact SUV, the Sportage,
  is riding the wave...”


VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE and the Sportage has got that covered with 18 trim versions, three engine variants (114bhp-182bhp) and three different transmissions including a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The sportiest card in the deck is the more dramatically styled GT-Line which also comes with something else new under its sculpted bonnet: a turbocharged 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol engine.

Not only are bad weather and poor driving conditions countered by the Sportage's 4x4 system but off-road driving is also on the agenda: along with 172mm of ground clearance, 4x4 Lock mode can be manually selected (simply by pressing the 4WD LOCK button near the gearlever) for a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph.

The Sportage’s 4x4
system generally delivers
all of the engine torque
to the front wheels,
but this can be
redistributed up to a
maximum of 60:40
front-to-rear to enhance
cornering stability or if
road conditions
deteriorate...”
Kia's intelligent all-wheel drive system is standard-fitment on Sportage models using the 1.6 T-GDi engine and the 2.0-litre CRDi diesel units; those powered by the non-turboed 1.6 GDi and the 1.7 CRDi diesels are front-wheel drive only.

On-road, the Sportage's 4x4 system generally delivers all of the engine torque to the front wheels, but this can be redistributed up to a maximum of 60:40 front-to-rear to enhance cornering stability or if road conditions deteriorate. A new addition is Advanced Traction Cornering Control, which monitors road speed, throttle input, and steering angle and distributes torque between the left and right wheels to maximise cornering stability.

Interestingly, in Europe the Sportage out-sells Audi's Q3, BMW's X1, Ford's Kuga, Skoda's Yeti and even the Range Rover Evoque and the latest Kia's good looks should see that continue.

Externally the GT-Line is identified by its exclusive 19-inch alloys, ice-cube LED front foglights, high-gloss black 'blade mesh' radiator grille, body-coloured exterior door handles with satin chrome inserts, satin chrome belt-line mouldings and door sills, dual exhaust tailpipes and front and rear silver-finish skid plates.

With a steeply angled windscreen sweeping seamlessly into its low sloping roofline, racy-looking narrow side windows, deeply sculpted sides and bold wheel arches, there's an appealingly rakish air to the Sportage.

The GT-Line's cabin is smartly finished and there's a premium ambiance that makes you glad you opened the door: fine-looking black leather seats with diamond-pattern grey leather centre panels and grey piping draw the eye. And they're as comfortable as they look with quick to warm three-stage heating. There's also a fist of headroom as well as plenty of room for elbows when using the all-black (even its trim is dark satin chrome), flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel with perforated work areas. Oh, yes… the driver also enjoys powered lumbar adjustment.

Getting behind the sporty wheel is easy thanks to the seat's slim but effective bolstering, wide-opening doors and the fact that these latest models have a 40mm lower floor than previous models. From behind the wheel there's good front and side visibility and the engine start button (the GT-Line has keyless entry and start) is an easy finger-push away.

You won’t hear any
complaints from those
travelling in the rear
cabin who, thanks to the
increased wheelbase,
enjoy excellent room.
Multi-angle reclining rear
seatbacks are a big
bonus, as are heated
seats, so passengers can
lounge back, set their
own climate temperature
and chill out...”
Soft-touch trim covers the cleanly-designed upper fascia and the central seven-inch touchscreen display serves both infotainment and navigation, while in the instrument cluster between crystal clear white-on-black dials there's a 4.2-inch TFT digital driver's display that shows a wealth of information including roadside speed limits (helpfully also shown on the navigation maps) with easy-jump menus.

Kit, as buyers have come to expect from Kia, is comprehensive. GT-Line models come well loaded with dual-zone climate, electric windows, powerfold and heated door mirrors with LED indicators, auto-dimming rearview mirror, privacy glass (rear side windows and tailgate), driver's powered lumbar adjustment, cooled glovebox, reversing camera and reversing sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, auto lights and wipes, DAB radio, Bluetooth (hands-free calls, music streaming and voice recognition), USB and AUX ports.

And there's more: a touchscreen SatNav system linked to Kia Connected Services with TomTom that provides full European mapping and detailed live traffic updates with suggested alternative routes to avoid congestion, weather forecasts, speed camera and accident blackspot alerts, and local services searches (500 categories from Kia dealerships to petrol stations, restaurants and supermarkets, etc).

GT-Line models add an extra touch of luxury with their black-and-grey leather upholstery, keyless entry and start, a D-pattern steering wheel (with remote controls for phone, voice, driving info menu selection, cruise and speed limiter), heated front and back seats, a 4.2-inch TFT instrument display, high-gloss black centre fascia, black headlining, stainless steel pedals, silver stitching on the steering wheel, front centre armrest and centre dashboard, and front parking sensors.

You won't hear any complaints from those travelling in the rear cabin who, thanks to the increased wheelbase, enjoy excellent leg-, knee-, foot- and head-room. Multi-angle reclining rear seatbacks are a big bonus and two can share the wide, padded central armrest with built-in cupholders.

And both outer rear seats feature two-stage heating so passengers can lounge back, set their own climate temperature and chill out. Yes, the Sportage will take three in the rear cab and, courtesy of the low centre tunnel, there's no sharing of foot room either. All three, incidentally, enjoy a fist of headroom and good views out, even ahead over the bonnet thanks to the generous space between the front seats.

Most drivers still prefer
petrol and the turboed
1.6 doesn
t disappoint,
serving up strong
acceleration as soon as
your right foot demands
it while staying
pleasantly quiet and
refined, even when it
s
being extended...”
The Sportage is nothing if not practical, with bags of room for passengers' luggage 491 litres, to be precise. The 60:40 split rear seats fold almost completely flat and expand the boot into a very usable 1,480-litre loadbay that's easily accessible thanks to a high lifting tailgate and an all-on-a-level boot load-sill that's 47mm lower than previously. The Sportage's two-position cargo floor also has space to store the luggage cover cassette when not in use.

Fitted with a six-speed manual 'box the 174bhp T-GDi (that's Turbocharged Gasoline Direct injection) runs to 126mph and nips to 60mph in a zesty 9.2 seconds. Officially this 1.6 turbo/6-speed manual combo is good for 37.2mpg a week's pretty hard driving over 400 miles of mixed roads saw an overall average of 31.8mpg.

Given the choice, most drivers still prefer petrol and the 1.6-litre four-pot's 195lb ft of torque from 1,500 to 4,500rpm doesn't disappoint, serving up strong acceleration as soon as your right foot demands it while staying pleasantly quiet and refined, even when it's being extended not hard to do as the manual gearbox's precise change action adds pleasure when making the best use of its six ratios.

The previous Sportage was fun to drive; so too is this new one and that's down to the much stiffer bodyshell torsional body stiffness is 39% greater which has improved the driving dynamics, as too have the extensively revised suspension geometry and a new rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering system with decent 'feel'.

Handling is well-mannered and body lean is of the expected 'let you know' variety that comes with most 'high-riders' rather than anything that interferes with its grippy progress. On quicker, twisty roads it feels planted; on major blacktop and on fast long-haul journeys it's reassuringly stable, comfortable, and refined. It also, despite the large alloys wrapped in 245/45 rubber, rides compliantly.

Backing up your personal driving skills are a number of driver assist and safety systems, including the expected ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and Brake Assist to ensure maximum braking power in an emergency regardless of the force applied to the pedal. As already mentioned, 4x4-specced cars also get Advanced Traction Cornering Control. Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management (to counteract any tendency of the car to understeer or oversteer in hard cornering or slippery conditions, or to pull to one side when accelerating on roads with different levels of grip from left to right) can also be taken for granted.

On quicker, twisty roads
it feels planted;
on major blacktop and on
fast long-haul journeys
it’s reassuringly stable,
comfortable,
and refined. It also,
despite the large alloys,
rides compliantly...”
Safety is equally well covered with a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, six airbags (front, front side and side curtain), Isofix top tethers and anchors for mounting child seats, a passenger airbag cut-off switch (for a rear-facing child seat in the front of the car), tyre pressure warning system, speed-sensing automatic door locking, LED daytime running lamps, and cornering lights.

In addition there's Lane-Keep Assist, High Beam Assist (switches automatically between full and dipped beam when it detects oncoming traffic or vehicles directly ahead), and Speed Limit Information Function (uses the camera behind the rearview mirror to read traffic signs and display speed limits and no-overtaking zones in the instrument cluster).

Also keeping you safe are Downhill Brake Control (ensures the car maintains a steady speed of 5mph when descending steep slopes), Hill-start Assist Control and a Roll-over Sensor. And every Sportage has Trailer Stability Assist to prevent a caravan or trailer (the 1.6 T-GDi can pull 1,900kg braked) from snaking in crosswinds.

The all-new Sportage will appeal to both existing owners and those new to the brand as it has already proved: in its first three days on sale Kia sold almost 1,500 of them! Its first month on sale also saw it enter the UK's Top Ten best-seller list. Good news clearly travels fast; you should book a test drive now!
MotorBar

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line | £24,350
Maximum speed: 126mph | 0-60mph: 9.2 seconds | Test Average: 31.8mpg
Power: 174bhp | Torque: 195lb ft | CO2: 177g/km