Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
After thoroughly enjoying our time in the Si Premium variant of the updated Sportage range, we were keen to see what the rest of the range had to offer.
For 2019, Kia hasn’t tried to reinvent the Sportage, instead, it’s efforts have been focussed on adding additional polish to what was already a strong contender.
While all models have received a boost in standard equipment, the major mechanical changes have been reserved for the diesel models which get Kia’s new eight-speed automatic transmission. Our time in the Si Premium showed the combination of the oiler and eight-speed to be a winner.
Here we are testing the range-topping Sportage GT-Line, buyers have the choice of petrol or diesel power priced from $44,790 and $47,690 plus on-road costs respectively.
Our tester has the 2.4-litre petrol engine under the bonnet mated with the older six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Buyers willing to spend the extra cash on the GT-Line get more of a luxury vibe with electronically adjustable front seats that are heated and ventilated, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, wireless phone charging, a panoramic sunroof, powered tailgate, LED headlights with auto levelling and LED fog lights.
Climbing to the summit of the Sportage range also brings additional safety kit in the form of blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and an intelligent parking assist system.
The 19-inch alloy wheels along with the sports pack which includes bespoke bumpers, side sills and grille easily differentiate the flagship from the wider range. These sporty embellishments make the GT-Line the best-looking model in the Sportage range.
Moving inside, the Sportage doesn’t carry Kia’s latest interior design language, however, everything is where it should be with a level of fit and finish to rival the best.
The two-tone leather trim is a classy touch that not only brightens the interior but also significantly lifts the cabin’s ambience. It sure beats the gloom of black finishes on every surface.
All the controls are angled towards the driver in a nod to the ultimate driving machine and pleasingly, the passenger seat is able to be raised to provide the coveted high seating position that SUVs are all about.
One puzzling omission is the lack of memory function for the front seats, trying to find that perfect positioning after swapping drivers is a nuisance.
Infotainment is well sorted, Kia’s in-house system is well set out and intuitive in operation. It’s a shame most smartphone users will bypass it in favour of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We can put it down to progress.
Driving the GT-Line quickly confirms the 2.4-litre petrol engine isn’t as convincing as the turbo-diesel unit. Despite acceptable outputs of 135kW and 237Nm, it can’t match the performance or efficiency of the oil burner.
Off the line, acceleration is adequate for a medium SUV, but drivers who take the time to test both engines will be drawn to the better performance and flexibility of the diesel.
The older six-speed automatic does the job without fuss, but it obviously feels less sophisticated at times as a result of having two fewer gears.
Handling and ride quality are areas where the GT-Line strikes back. The relaxed locally-tuned suspension delivers a compliant and controlled ride. Kia says the dampers now have a longer rebound stroke which works to nullify smaller vibrations caused by poor road surfaces.
Kia’s pursuit of sportiness across its range is present here, the Sportage gives little away in the bends with body roll kept at a minimum. There is plenty of lateral grip should you take a corner with too much enthusiasm.
The GT-Line is equipped with a front-biased all-wheel drive system, when traction is needed at the back, up to 40 per cent of the available torque can be shuffled to the rear wheel. In saying that, the Sportage is first and foremost a road-going SUV.
Being optimised for the road means the Sportage is a refined daily driver or highway cruiser. Our testing on the Hume and Murray Valley Highways showed the car to be well above average when it comes to long-range comfort.
In terms of efficiency, we returned a consumption figure of 8.8L/100km at the conclusion of our test week that covered almost 600 kilometres. That’s almost 2.0L/100km more than the diesel on a similar test.
Kia offers the most comprehensive ownership package of any mainstream marque in Australia, the only challenger comes in the form of fellow Korean brand SsangYong.
Sportage buyers get a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and a seven-year capped price service program. The petrol GT-Line requires servicing every 12 months/15,000km with prices averaging $408 for each trip to the dealership hoist.
As a bonus, each service conducted at an authorised dealer extends Kia’s Roadside Assist program for an additional 12 months. Continued yearly maintenance at a Kia dealer will see this coverage ongoing to match the seven-year service program.
Both in isolation and in the context of its petrol-powered rivals, the 2.4-litre Sportage GT-Line is another quality offering from Kia. The problem is its diesel stablemate. A diesel-powered GT-Line costs an extra $2900, if this is the trim level for you, it’s money well spent.
On the other hand, if it’s a rung too far or the extra spend can’t be justified, our advice would be to drop down a grade to the SLi and opt for the diesel. Selecting the turbo-diesel unlocks the new eight-speed transmission which brings a considerable jump in both performance and economy.
2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line Petrol Specifications
Price from $44,790 plus on-road costs Engine 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 135kW @ 6000rpm Torque 237Nm @ 4000rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 8.5L/100km Tank Capacity 62L Length 4485mm Width 1855mm Height 1655mm Wheelbase 2670mm Tare Weight 1642kg Ground Clearance 172mm Turning Circle 11m Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km Warranty seven year/unlimited kilometre
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