Rising from the Ashes, the Kia Sportage GT-Line Plus Shines

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Rising from the Ashes, the Kia Sportage GT-Line Plus Shines

Prashirwin Naidu

Some may remember the first-generation 1993 Kia Sportage; its lacklustre design and poor safety ratings were qualms then. However, the fifth-generation Kia Sportage is evolving and ageing in progressive, constant, and never-ending refinement. 

After spending time with the range-topping 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line Plus variant, one can confirm that it looks like eye candy and is something to write home about in the premium SUV segment. 

It wears a distinct fascia with a futuristic design. You have LED headlights and an unfamiliar grille while adding sporty 19-inch wheels. This futuristic 3D ensemble featured distinctive rear taillights, sporting the Kia badge, and it looks more athletically inclined than before. One could say it's much more handsome than its predecessor. 

It is roomier, too, including a wheelbase of 2,680mm, a width of 1,865mm, a length of 4,515mm, and a height of 1,650mm. These dimensions translate into ample legroom, headroom, and luggage capacity of 591 litres. With the second row folded, it opens up to 1,780 litres.

The GT-Line Plus is filled with a few niceties. Stepping into the cabin, it oozes class and sophistication, offering comfortable suede cloth and leatherette upholstery that is also heated and ventilated for front occupants; the driver's seat also has a memory function to remember your seat positioning along with a multifunctional heated steering wheel. One also has a lovely glass panoramic sunroof, which retracts smoothly. The overall setup has black finishes; it's quite a clean and uncluttered cabin, and it features a rotary gear-shift dial, which adds a modern flair.

There's also a touch-sensitive panel that lets users choose between radio shortcuts and climate controls. It took me some time to figure it out; simplicity is key. However, some old-school physical buttons might be preferred for non-technology-driven folks like myself.

The display of the 12.3-inch infotainment system contrasts nicely with the digital instrument cluster to create a seamless transition for your eyes to follow.

It is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, with two USB ports up front and two USB-C ports tucked away into the front seatbacks for rear passengers—there's also a remote control for folding the second row of seats.

Some nifty driving features that came with our test unit were front parking assist sensors, a reverse camera and blind-spot warning, an electronic tailgate, Care follow assist and Smart cruise control.

Safety features that come standard across all models are Anti-Lock Braking System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Brake Control (DBC), and Trailer Stability Assist (TSA). The Sportage also offers a range of Kia's Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology, depending on the model.

There are also six airbags, including driver's, front passenger airbags, side airbags, side curtain airbags, and ISOFIX child seat anchors.

A 1.6-litre in-line turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine powers the Kia. It supplies a decent 132 kW and 265 Nm of torque sent to the front wheels via a smooth 7-speed DCT transmission.  

One feels engaged, the responsiveness is immediate, and the refinement is on par. The steering is light, the overall feel is blended efficiently, and the cabin is well-insulated.

Comfort-wise, it is impressive, plus a soft suspension setup that absorbs the harsh bumps and imperfect road conditions; it is due to the MacPherson strut-type at the front and a four-link setup at the rear. This combination provides a stable commute with precise control.

On the fuel consumption side, I was achieving 7.9l/100km, not as frugal as its diesel counterpart, but still managed to impress on drive quality.

Priced at R741,995, it seems a little hefty but might be an enticing offer given the amount of technology, refinement and safety offerings on hand.

All Sportage models come with Kia's Unlimited Kilometre/5-year warranty, which includes Roadside Assistance. Customers also benefit from a pre-paid 6-year/90,000 km service plan.


Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi LX: R637,995 

Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi EX: R691,995 

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line: R713,995 

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line Plus: R741,995 

Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT-Line Plus: R765,995 

Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line S: R798,995 





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