Late model Kia Sportages are good cars

Kia Sportage GT Line: At eye level with the top dogs

Visually, the Kia Sportage has probably made the biggest leap of all automobiles in the last decade. But the dynamic SUV has more than just caught up in other areas as well.

From the gray mouse to Speedy Gonzales: The current version of the Kia Sportage is optically one of the most dynamic SUVs this side of the Porsche Cayenne, especially in the "GT Line" version, which is subject to a surcharge. Of course, the compact all-wheel drive is still not a sports car - even if it feels like that from time to time.

Anyone who sees an official manufacturer photo of the Kia Sportage on the Internet or in the catalog can be almost certain that it is the "GT Line" model. The Koreans are rightly proud of the sleek look of their SUV bestseller. The Porsche-style front, the daytime running light modules that are reminiscent of mighty air intakes and the suggested aluminum underrun protection that adds a pinch of robustness: All of this fits together wonderfully and lifts the Kia out of the crowd of compact crossovers without becoming too heavy very polarize. The tidy interior with eye-catchers such as the three-spoke steering wheel and the aluminum pedals is ergonomically and visually convincing, even if a little too much cheaper plastic has been used here and there.

A castle for the inmates

Overall, however, you can feel comfortable on board the Sportage. The front and rear are airy, and even tall adults have plenty of space in the rear, even if the black roof lining in the rear of the “GT Line” impairs the sense of space. In terms of luggage space, the Kia is not one of the most luxurious models in its class, but with almost 500 liters with full seating it offers enough space for most requirements.

If you fold down the rear seats, you can pack up to one and a half cubic meters. This is also not a dream value for an almost 4.50 meter long SUV, but it shouldn't pose any problems in everyday life. The appeal of the Kia is generally less the average practical use than the massive, robust feeling that the SUV conveys. Instead of optimizing the interior volume, a castle was built for the occupants in which they feel comfortable and protected. Thick sheet metal, hard-to-slam doors, the precise workmanship and the massive dimensions create immediate trust.

Good coordination when maneuvering

On the road, however, the big Kia is surprisingly light-footed. Starting with the diesel engine, which nominally draws only 104 kW / 141 hp from its 1.7 liter displacement, but rarely appears strenuous. The rather mediocre paper values ​​for the acceleration also appear much more confident in practice. The Sportage, which is driven by the front wheels, only occasionally runs out of air during smooth intermediate sprints, but this is also due to the dual-clutch transmission, which is comfortably designed, holds the gears long and does not shift down until late. Sometimes you would like to have shift paddles on the steering wheel to initiate the sprint yourself. However, these are only available for the top engines, so that you have to use the corresponding alley of the automatic selector lever for manual gear changes.

However, the coordination when maneuvering is well done: unlike with some competitors, the gas can be operated sensitively even when parking to the side on a slope. In terms of consumption, however, the engine-transmission team does rather average. Over a three-month test drive, consumption leveled off at 7.0 liters - more than two liters above the normal value.

Kia Sportage from 20,000 euros

The chassis could also use a little fine-tuning, which is very tight and causes unrest in the cabin, especially when driving slowly. If you are looking for sedan-like comfort rather than a sports car attitude in an SUV, you should look elsewhere or at least deselect the “GT Line” equipment with its wide, lightly padded 19-inch wheels. To compensate for this, the Sportage conveys more dynamism than some other Asian SUVs when cornering. The relatively direct and responsive steering also plays its part in this. On the autobahn, it ensures good straight-line stability thanks to its binding hardness.

The solid and careful design of the Sportage is of course reflected in the price. With a starting amount of just under 20,000 euros, the Korean is one of the cheapest models on paper. But if you want the diesel driven here, you already pay 10,000 euros more. The cheapest all-wheel-drive model is also available at the same price, but with a 1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine (130 kW / 177 PS). Those who want to combine diesel and four driven wheels get in at well above 30,000 euros. As always with Kia, the self-confident level is put into perspective by the seven-year guarantee or 150,000 kilometers of mileage.

Unlike in the previous generations, the Kia Sportage is now on par with the German top dogs in every respect. The engine, workmanship and chassis are no cause for complaint. In addition, the SUV scores with its extraordinarily solid and high-quality character. On board you feel as well protected as the massive construction promises. Only downright comfort freaks are not really happy. The design dynamic can definitely be recommended to all other SUV customers. (SP-X)

The qualified religious educator worked alongside his work as a parish officer for a Catholic parish in Berlin in the dpa sports department. At the beginning of the millennium he switched to the Netzeitung. His specialties were the national soccer team and winter sports. In 2004 the author department was added before he co-founded the Autogazette in 2006. He has been a freelance journalist since 2018.