KIA Sportage, something from the future
KIA is determined to make an indelible mark on the automotive industry, especially with their SUV line. This was most evident when the brand decided to give the previous generation Sportage a complete facelift, with a futuristic design language that is in keeping with the mantra of the company.
Gone are the Porsche-inspired headlights for an unconventional ‘boomerang’-shaped light, which dominates the front fascia and makes it impossible to miss from the front. In addition, there is still a predominant radiator grille, however, this time, everything is flushed, including the headlights, which gives it a very uniformed appearance.
I think over the years, KIA has done its best to give consumers value for money with their vehicles, and now the company feels confident in taking their marketing plan to the next level. The first step was changing their logo last year, which was done to ‘convey a fresh start and a change of direction for the company’. While it does look more contemporary, I kept seeing a ‘K’ and an ‘N’ only and wished the ‘I’ was a bit more distinguishable. It’s kind of the same way I feel about the new Victoria Mutual Group.
The company also adopted a new slogan, ‘Movement that inspires’, as it positions itself to be more dominant in the automotive space. With its reputation in tack, the brand believes it no longer has to copy the main features from other premium automakers as it can now make its own pathway.
This is very evident with the interior of the Sportage, which is more upscale than I imagined. At first, I thought it was competing with the likes of the CRVs and RAV4s, however, the layout is pushing towards the more premium brands like Audi and BMW.
To be fair, I test-drove the highest tier, which is the X - Line, and it boasted leather seats and a full-length panoramic sunroof that immediately set a tone of opulence. In addition, the brand also stuck to utilitarianism by having heated and cool seats, with the ventilation spanning the back and base of the seat.
There are also rear a/c vents that are powerful and adjustable to keep second-row passengers cool in their reclinable seats. Up front, the piano black and chrome accents adorn the surfaces to emit luxury and status.
Mounted at the front of the dashboard is an eight-inch touchscreen display, which sits beside an identically shaped dial cluster. The buttons are kept to a minimum as the design language takes precedence, with uniquely shaped air vents and flush buttons.
To ensure that it stands apart in as many ways as possible, the handbrake is also placed on the driver’s side of the dashboard and is designed as a lever. It was similar to the one I saw in the Hyundai Palisade, which was peculiar at first but was easy to get accustomed to.
There is a rotary gear selector, which has been growing popular for some time now, in brands such as Jaguar and Chrysler, with many auto enthusiasts stating that it is the way of the future. It is not my cup of tea, but it works seamlessly with no delay in the transmission.
With a 2.0L Turbo Diesel Engine, it might be a bit overpowered for its class as in the past, this set-up would mostly be used for a seven-passenger vehicle. Acceleration picks up effortlessly, and there are multiple driving modes to choose from as the vehicle makes efficient use of the all-wheel-drive system.
KIA left no stones unturned when it designed the Sportage as the vehicle is packed with standard features and enough power to carry it anywhere. It has certainly pushed the envelope where the standard compact SUV is concerned, and now, it is extending itself into the luxury market.
Price of tested model: X-Line, starting at $8,395,000
Price Options: Executive tier, starting at $6,695,000
Engine: 2.0L Turbo Diesel
Fuel tank: 54 litre
Gas consumption: 16.5 km/l (Jamaican Highway)
Body Type: compact SUV
Competition: Toyota Rav4, Nissan XTrail, Honda CRV
Vehicle provided by ATL Automotive Ltd, 1876-754-0013, email: email@example.com, atlautomotive.com