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Made to Wow: Enhanced Kia Sportage (+4×4) now in SA

  • Design updates refreshes Kia’s baby SUV
  • New engines, new autobox, available
  • ‘Impressive’ value proposition, says automaker

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – It’s only just more than two years since the most recent awards-winning Kia Sportage reached South Africa but already the automaker is bringing in a mid-life ”refresh” that includes revisions to engines and transmissions options, as well as a revised model line-up.

Launched in 1993 and spanning four generations since, the Sportage is, Kia says, ”undoubtedly the most successful model in our history. In fact, earlier in 2018 – its 25th anniversary – Kia Motors celebrated global Sportage sales passing five million.

2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA
2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite.Image: Kia SA

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – Kia’s Sportage emerged at the 1991 Tokyo auto show and claimed to be the first concept of the ‘urban SUV’ . It proved, its maker says, ”to be the blueprint for a compact, practical SUV” equally able to handle shopping trips or unpaved tracks for weekends in the country.

Kia quickly dubbed the model ”an instant hit with lifetime sales of more than 500 000”.

”The cars were updated for relaunch in 2004,” Kia added, ”and its size and versatility made it a global hit . Eventually, after a showroom life of seven years, it logged off with 1 223 776 sales to pave the way for generation three in 2010 which surpassed the sales performance of its ancestors with, in six years, more than two-million deliveries.”

2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA
2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA

The  current (we’re in 2018) Sportage, in showrooms since the end of 2015, clocked more than a million sales by age two. Whatever, Kia has decided on an update to, perhaps, stay ahead of the curve while celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kia in South Africa.


Gary Scott, Kia Motors SA’s chief operating officer, told The Corner in a media release the celebration had brought about ”a slight nip-and-tuck to its exterior for 2019 model year”. Here’s what it gets…

The ‘tiger’s nose’ grille design has been made more prominent but still separates the head- and daytime lights; the front bumper has been jacked to have ”a more masculine, menacing, visage” (terms The Corner believes are archaic ways to describe automobiles, along with ”aggressive”, but whatever) and the foul-weather lights made more prominent.

Changes to the rear bumper are, we’re told, meant to emphasise the car’s width while giving it a ”more planted” (yawn) stance. The rear tail lights (as against the front tail lights, perhaps?) haven’t changed but, Kia reports, now have a connecting strip – also intended to widen the appearance.

Buyers will have a choice of 16, 17 or 19” wheel-rim sizes according to model ,and new paint options.

2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA
2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA

The model range has been renamed, however, by dropping the SX all-wheel drive and GT Line units while ”increasing the specification and value of those remaining”.


Stephen Crosse, Kia SA’s sales director, enlarged: “The Sportage has always delivered stylish looks, abundant space and a range of specification but we’ve moved to counter growing competition with new engines and transmissions.”

The Ignite will continue as the entry model but with aircon, auto ”see you home” headlights, powered external mirror/indicator units,  front central armrest/storage box, Bluetooth, six-speaker radio/audio, four power windows, rear parking radar and ”high performance” shock-absorbers.

Ignite models will also have fabric upholstery, leather-clad gear-shifter and steering-wheel – the latter bearing controls for audio, cellphone and cruise control. New16”’alloy wheel rims and fat 215/70 radials and DRLs ”complete the picture”.

Ignite Plus adds auto-folding to the external mirrors, an electro-chromatic (read self-dipping) rearview mirror, and front fog lights. Wheels/tyres are 17” and 225/60 radials.

2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA
2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA

The Sportage EX has the same wheel/rim combination as the Plus but adds front parking radar, auto wipers, an electric parking brake, auto wipers, voice-recognising Bluetooth and auto aircon. Seating upholstery is upgraded to animal skins, those up front with power adjustment.


Its infotainment system has a 19cm colour touch-screen for the rear camera display and to handle Apple CarPlay (Sportage is Android Auto ready).

Included in the EX grade is an all-wheel drive model riding on 19” rims/245/45 radials.

Top of the range is the EX Plus, the ”plus” bit adding 19” rims, a sunroof (BTW guys, it can’t be ”panoramic” if you can only look upwards! – other PR’s take note) and there’s a rear USB socked coming from a 20” touch-screen that also hosts satnav.

Retained are the two-litre MPI petrol and CRDI diesel engines; gone are the 2.4 GDI and 1.6 turbo petrol engines but joining the two-litre family is a 1.6-litre GDI in the Sportage Ignite, a unit capable of a handy 97kW/161Nm and top speed of a totally unusable but bragable 170km/h.

READ MORE Kia features on Carman’s Corner

The familiar two-litre Nu MPI engine delivers 115kW/196Nm hooked to either a six-speed auto or manual ‘box and slightly more than 180km/h… but wait, there’s more… wow, what fun, an eight-speed auto attached to a two-litre 131kW/400Nm engine for the Ignite Plus, EX and EX Plus.


Should you risk a touch of top speed, at your back will be anti-lock brakes, six crash bags and child-seat anchors. For the traffic and car park at P&P your pride and joy will be protected by central locking, alarm, immobiliser and DataDot identity dinguses all over the place.


Kia Sportage 1.6 GDI Ignite (6-speed a/t) – R379 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-speed manual) – R389 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus (6-speed a/t) – R403 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDI Ignite Plus (8-speed a/t) – R453 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 EX (6-speed a/t) – R459 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX (8-speed a/t) – R509 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX AWD (8-speed a/t) – R536 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 EX Plus (6-speed a/t) – R499 995
Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDI EX Plus (8-speed a/t) – R549 995

Each will be delivered with an unlimited-distance five-year warranty, five-year service plan, and five years of roadside assistance.

2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA
2018 KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 GDi Ignite: Image: Kia SA

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