Monday, 25 March 2019

Kia takes evolutionary step forward

Kia takes evolutionary step forward

THE speed at which we live our lives today is mirrored by the rapidly changing technological advancement of consumer products.

No sooner do we get comfortable with one product than an upgrade or even an all-new version appears on the horizon.

Cars are one of the biggest culprits in this relentless race to a future where no doubt electric and autonomous vehicles will be king. The Kia Sportage, this week’s drive, is a car that has itself evolved rapidly in the past decade.

No sooner, it seemed, was one very able version of this car on the market than another improved model was right behind it.

The Kia Sportage has been around since 1993 when the South Korean carmaker produced the first generation.

That was a very different car to the new 2018 version I have been driving. In the early Nineties Sportage sales were low even domestically in Korea.

Fast forward to the third generation Sportage, which was released to the world in 2010/11. This car picked up awards, including coming top of the JD Power reliability survey in 2012.

The Kia Sportage, the brand’s best-selling model in Europe, was the only car in the survey to score five stars across all categories — from mechanical reliability to ownership costs and the dealer experience. Then after an unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015, the 2016 fourth-generation Sportage appeared.

Updated features on the new Kia Sportage include upgrade infotainment system and driver-aids, mild-hybrid technology on a 2.0-litre CRD engine and for a sportier look, GT-Line and
GT-Line S models.

I have been driving the Sportage GT-Line S with the 2.0-litre CRDi engine that includes an excellent pairing with eight-speed automatic transmission.

The interesting thing I found about this version of the Sportage was that it has evolved at this grade into a sophisticated medium-sized SUV (sport utility vehicle) that matches comfort with ability. That 2.0-litre diesel engine has masses of torque (pulling power) and willingness to perform under practically any circumstances.

There is an all-new “U3” diesel engine available, a 1.6-litre CRDi, that produces 114 or 134bhp. By comparison, the car I have been driving achieved 182bhp. It would be interesting to see how this new diesel engine compares and I hope to report back to you on that.

The jury is out on engines as they evolve rapidly, particularly diesel-powered engines, as I am sure you know. Meanwhile, carmakers are endeavouring to clean up diesel-powered vehicles.

Kia of course is not standing still on the engine front. It says it is the first manufacturer to offer “hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and 48-volt mild-hybrid technology” across its model line-up.

Kia will launch 16 advanced powertrain (engined) vehicles by 2025, including five new hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five battery-electric vehicles and, barely two years away in 2020, a new fuel-cell electric vehicle.

Comfort is key in the Sportage and as Kia says “built in as standard”. Fully independent front and rear suspension remains unchanged in the updated model and continues to provide a smooth ride in the Sportage.

The upgraded model is available with 16-, 17- and 19-inch alloy wheel designs. Five new paint colours are available on the new Sportage, including new shades of silver, grey, blue and copper.

The infotainment systems on the Sportage form part of the upgrade. A seven-inch touchscreen, or satellite navigation system, or a new “frameless” eight-inch system, each with DAB digital radio is available.

All satnav systems (model Grade 2 and above) include Kia’s Connected Services powered by TomTom as standard. This is quick and easy to use with good access for the driver.

Connectivity features include live traffic updates, speed camera locations and alerts, local search, and weather forecasts.

The Kia Connected Services system has been updated in the Sportage to show drivers the price of fuel at nearby filling stations, as well as the location and real-time availability of parking spaces.

All models in the Sportage line-up feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice control as well as Bluetooth and music streaming.

So Kia, as I noted above, is not shy about “racing to the future” with its eyes firmly fixed on achieving much by 2025. On the evidence of this new and improved Sportage, Kia has to be one of the carmakers to watch in the ever-evolving world of cars.

• For Nigel Wigmore’s selected car reviews passim, visit www.browsingimpala.co.uk

Factfile

Kia Sportage GT-Line S 2.0 CRDi 48V eight-speed auto

Price (on the road): £34,545

21-model range based on five engines, three transmissions and six trim lines

All engines revised and exceed the latest Euro 6d TEMP emissions standards

New steering wheel and revised driver instrument cluster

Heated front seats now standard on grade 2 models and above

All petrol engines feature particulate filters

All versions feature reversing camera as standard

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