2022 Kia Sportage goes through local testing
Kia’s next-generation mid-size SUV has been busy in local testing ahead of its Australian launch.
Like nearly all Kia models, the latest Sportage has arrived at Kia’s Sydney HQ and undergone testing and tuning to local conditions. But this time Kia Australia has posted photos of its new model undergoing the local routine.
The fifth generation in the Sportage lineup, we expect a fairly drastic change to the popular medium SUV, including a radically different design outside, big updates inside and new technology. Just look at the difference in the latest Sorento from the old as an example of how far Kia is pushing its new machines.
The testing for the new model took place in Sydney and around New South Wales, sampling a variety of road surfaces from suburban jungle, country gravel, and beaten bitumen. It took in thousands of kilometres of testing and is picked by Kia’s team to be the best mix of what a typical Aussie can expect to drive on in the new Sportage.
Kia Australia’s Ride and Handling Engineer is headed by Graeme Gambold who has performed testing and suspension tuning to more than 50 Kia models. Gambold explains that the new fifth-generation Sportage (NQ5) is a step up over the old NQ4, but tuning for this generation has been a challenge due to COVID. The restrictions in travel have meant constant communication with Korea where the factory makes changes to the components and send them via freight to Australia for implementation and further testing and tuning.
“As usual, our NQ5 Sportage tune will be unique compared to other regions. We’re trialing all available spring rates globally suited, in order to flatten the ride and minimise body-roll,” says Gambold.
“NQ5 will also apply Mando Shock Absorbers which feature an advanced valve technology as first seen on MQ4 Sorento.
“Due to COVID complications we’ve been forced to apply the tuning via a ‘correspondence process’, whereby we order shock absorber production samples in batches, air-freighted for testing, rather than having a dedicated Damper Engineer based here for the duration of the tune.
“While it’s been a challenge and taken a little longer than usual, NQ5 is sporty, youthful, fun to drive, yet comfortable and capable of soaking up, even the harshest of road conditions. While it’s a high bar, I’m confident it will be an even better ride than its predecessor.”
The South Korean brand’s local COO, Damien Meredith added that localisation of products and testing to local conditions is a key factor for ensuring the model is fully ready prior to launch: “Tuning our vehicles to suit Australian conditions is a huge factor in the satisfaction of our drivers and has attributed significantly to the growth in our overall sales,” said Meredith.
“Localisation remains an important process for our product range, and despite the constraints posed by COVID, Graeme and the Product Planning Team together with Namyang, have persevered to work around the obstacles, to deliver an Australianised product to suit our roads and driving styles.
“The fifth-generation Sportage promises to be an excellent all-round package.”
The new model is planned to launch in Australia Q4 2021 and will come in both front and all-wheel drive. Engine options will be the familiar 2.0-litre petrol engine, 1.6-litre turbo petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel turbo.