Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Kia Sportage
Sportage returns in style
August 2005

THE original Sportage played a key role in establishing value-for-money brand Kia around the world.

The sturdy compact four wheel drive was introduced in 1993 and remains Kia`s global best-seller with 570,000 sales.

In Australia, however, it returns at a time when the brand`s star is the people mover, the Carnival.

Kia also is enjoying success with the Pregio diesel van, K2700 light truck, improved Cerato sedan, compact Rio and bigger 4WD Sorento.

Sportage, a twin of the Hyundai Tucson, is not as compact, or rugged, as its predecessor.

It comes with lashings more style and an eye-catching price of $31,990 driveaway.

Value, as we have come to expect from the Kia brand, again is the key word with Sportage.

It comes with an enticing array of standard features, including ABS, driver and passenger airbags, Traction Control System, air conditioning, power

steering, windows and mirrors, cruise control, 16-inch alloys, and remote central locking.

The Kia`s beefy 2.7-litre engine is one of its strengths.

It produces a robust 129kW of power at 6000rpm and maximum torque of 241Nm at 4000rpm.

This firepower sees it sail up steep hills with some in reserve and cruise effortlessly at the highway speed limit.

When stirred, the power plant is not the quietest going around, but Kia has made a genuine effort to improve sound insulation and reduce road noise.

The V6 is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission that seems a tad sleepy. However, there is a tiptronic-style manual gear selection if you want to drive with more zest.

Driving around town or on the open road, the Sportage operates in front wheel drive.

If slippage is detected in the front wheels, 4WD is automatically engaged, with up to 50% of power transmitted to the rear wheels.

When going bush, or up the beach, you can manually engage 4WD by pressing a lock button.

There`s no doubt the Kia has decent off-road capabilities, but its on-road manners fall just short of some of the Sportage`s Japanese rivals.

It performs most tasks with the minimum of fuss though and is simple, safe and fun to drive.

Visibility is a definite plus, with driver and passengers all getting a good view thanks to the 4WD`s lofty platform and good use of glass.

Handling is low-fuss and parking poses no problem for this modestly-proportioned wagon.

Fuel consumption, becoming more important by the day, is reasonable for the class at an average of around 11 litres for every 100km covered.

One of the most impressive aspects of this all-rounder is its deceptive roominess, flexibility and comfort.

Good styling cleverly conceals a roomy interior that comfortably accommodates five adults.

Parents with young children will love it as there`s three anchorage points and putting the kids in the back is as easy as it gets.

Like it sibling the Cerato, the Sportage is an example of how far its Korean maker has come with regard to build quality and driving enjoyment.

This is a stylish, roomy and versatile performer that will find favour with young drivers with adventurous pursuits and families looking for an

alternative to a small people mover or medium sedan.



ENGINE: 2.7-litre V6

POWER: 129kW at 6000rpm

TORQUE: 241Nm at 4000rpm

TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic with tiptronic-style manual gear selection

0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds

FUEL ECONOMY: 11.4 litres/100km average

PROS: Versatility, interior space, driveaway price

CONS: Road manners could be better, V6 noisy when stirred

BOTTOM LINE: $31,990 driveaway