2017 Kia Sportage GT Line Review – Australian Drive
Isaac Bober’s 2017 Kia Sportage GT Line Review with pricing, safety, specs, ride and handling, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Kia Sportage GT Line sits at the top of the tree and offers just about everything that opens and shuts.
2017 Kia Sportage GT Line
Pricing $45,990+ORC (diesel) Warranty seven years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months or 15,000km Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder Power 136kW at 4000rpm Torque 400Nm from 1750-2750rpm Transmission Six-speed automatic Drive On-deman all-wheel drive Dimensions 4480mm (L); 1855mm (W); 1645mm (H) Ground Clearance 172mm Boot space 466 litres Spare Full-size alloy Fuel Tank 62 litres Thirst 6.8L/100km
THE ALL-NEW KIA SPORTAGE arrived in Australia early last year and while it boasted a new look that I’ve grown to, if not like, at least accept, as well as enhanced safety features, clever technology like wireless phone charging and better on-road dynamics than ever.
What is it?
The previous-generation Sportage arrived here in 2010 and immediately showed that Kia was serious about wooing buyers on more than just being cheap and cheerful. A genuinely good-looking car it’s driving performance proved that it had the trousers to match its mouth.
When Kia launched this new-generation model in 2016 it claimed it had, once again, raised its own bar. And, without spoiling the story, I agree, but not as far as the looks are concerned. Of all the Kia models, I think the Sportage is visually the weakest link. But, in its driving, its features, the quality and pricing it really is a cut above the old model.
Given the boom in SUV sales, and particularly the growth in the medium SUV segment where the Sportage sits (it’s the largest SUV segment of the lot), Kia needed something that appealed to a variety of buyers and a range of budgets. And the Sportage is that, indeed, it’s currently (2017) it’s currently the fifth most-popular medium SUV, trailing the Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and the Toyota RAV4.
The Sportage is available in three trim lines – Si, SLi and Platinum, like most other Kia models. There are three engines to choose from and all are mated to a six-speed automatic, and only the Platinum petrol and all diesel variants can be had with on-demand all-wheel drive.
The GT Line models, based on Platinum (petrol and diesel) spec get bespoke suspension tune, safety features not on other models and some styling tweaks, including a GT badge on the tailgate.
Pricing for the Kia Sportage starts at $28,990+ORC and extends to $45,990+ORC. Kia also offers capped price servicing for seven years or 105,000km, whichever comes first, ranging from (in total) $2942 to $3695. And, of course, Kia offers an industry-leading seven-year warranty.
What’s the interior like?
Let’s start at the back. The boot offers 466 litres of storage space, which is one litre more than the old car, although when you drop the rear seats (60:40 split fold) this grows to 798 litres (up from 740 litres). As we mentioned in our review of the Kia Rondo, the Sportage doesn’t offer as much boot space as that car and is more expensive too.
The boot opening is wider than before, by 35mm and the load lip, without compromising ground clearance is 47mm lower at 732mm, thanks to a redesigned rear bumper. The boot space is nice and square and while it’s not exactly cavernous it’s a decent size for a family of four.
The back seats, as mentioned, are only 60:40 split fold; my preference is for 40:20:40 for increased versatility and practicality of the load space. That said, the back seats are comfortable and even the middle seat is comfortable enough for an adult to sit in on a long-ish journey; I’m not sure I’d want to cross the Hay Plain in the middle seat, but on shorter jaunts it would be fine.
Those in the two outboard seats get the best of it, with well-shaped and supportive seats. There’s good leg, head and shoulder room and the panoramic sunroof that stretches over the top of your head in the back (the opening section is now 490mm, 104mm larger than the old car) gives a real sense of airiness in the cabin. The rear seats offer two-stage heating and there are ISOFIX points for the two outboard seats and top tether anchors for all three seats, and these are set towards the middle of the seat backs, making them easy to reach, even if you’ve got stuff loaded in the boot.
There are air vents at the back of the centre console for back seat passengers as well as a 12V and USB outlet.
Climb into the front of the car and, in this GT-Line model, you’re greeted with a nice-looking interior that’s swathed in soft-touch and fine-grained plastics. While everything feels very well screwed together I did notice a slight rattle from the dash… somewhere. These things happen from time to time, especially on press cars that tend to cop a harder life even than a rental car, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned.
What you’ll notice the most about the dash are all the buttons; in fact, it looks a little old-school Mercedes-Benz with the amount of switches and dials inside the thing. The good news is that unlike a Merc, everything is easy to read and use on the fly. There’s a touchscreen (which offers Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity) at the top of the dashboard which, thankfully, offers shortcut menu buttons lower down. The dual-zone climate control is easy to use and the front seats are both heated and ventilated. Below these buttons are two 12V outlets, and auxiliary in and USB outlet. Below that is a smartphone-sized tray which offers wireless phone charging.
There are two good-sized cupholders next to the gear shifter which will hold a 500ml bottle, or a takeaway coffee cup.
There’s good adjustment on the steering wheel for both reach and height, and the electric adjustment on the seat means drivers of all sizes will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. There’s good vision right around the cabin (thanks to slightly taller side glass than the old model), although I did feel the wing mirrors were a touch too small. The reversing camera offers dynamic lines, meaning they bend when you turn the wheel to show the path of the vehicle, and the field of view means you can see right out to the edges of the rear of the vehicle.
What’s it like on the road?
Under the bonnet of our test car was a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine making 136kW at 4000rpm and 400Nm of torque between 1750-2750rpm. This is more power and torque than the 2.4-litre petrol engine that’s also available in the Platinum variant with GT-Line adornments. All engines for the Sportage are mated to a six-speed automatic with an on-demand all-wheel drive system driving the front-wheels only until slip is detected.
The engine is nice and grunty with plenty of off-idle oomph and is well served by the six-speed automatic which does a good job of shifting smoothly up and down. My test loop takes in plenty of up and downhill sections with some tight corners thrown in to give the transmission a workout, and the Sportage didn’t miss a beat, picking up again after a lift of the throttle quickly and cleanly. Only when being pushed harder than the average owner ever would into and then out of some tight corners did I notice a moment or two of hesitation as the transmission tried to grab the right gear.
The steering is well tuned and while it lacks feel there’s good weight and the action is consistent, meaning there’s no sudden build-up in weight when cornering or a weightlessness in the straight ahead. The brakes too felt solid with a good progressive action.
The Sportage has had its suspension tuned locally, meaning cars sold in Oz have a different suspension set-up to cars sold in, say the UK; our tune offers a good mix of dynamic and road comfort (you can read about how Kia and Hyundai tune the suspension and steering on Australian cars HERE; our Robert Pepper spent a day with the engineers).
Across my test loop, which takes in a mix of billiard table smooth bitumen, rougher country hotmix and well-graded but slippery dirt, the Sportage GT-Line, which gets a slightly stiffer set-up again compared with standard Sportage variants, was comfortable across all surfaces. You can well expect something on the stiff side of the equation to bump around a bit as the surface deteriorates but such is the level of tune on the Sportage that larger shocks are dealt with so that you hear the impact rather than feel it.
And the same goes when you’re driving slowly. I didn’t take the GT-Line off-road while I had it because all of my usual tracks were more like streams, but there’s a short track to a lookout near my place that’s rutted and taken slowly the Sportage rolled through the ruts nicely… I never picked up a wheel, and nor did I get all-wheel drive to kick in. But, if you’d like to know a bit more about how the system in the Sportage works, then click this link to an article we put together on driving the Hyundai Santa Fe off-road; the systems are the same.
What about safety features?
The Kia Sportage gets a five-star ANCAP rating and was tested back in 2016 realising 34.62 out of 37. The GT-Line variant builds on the safety features of the Platinum model with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Other safety features include, obviously, on-demand all-wheel drive, reverse parking sensors, hill-start assist, reversing camera, front parking sensors, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, smart parking assist (the first time on a Kia), traction and stability controls, anti-theft immobiliser and a burglar alarm.
Why would you buy one?
The Sportage GT-Line sits at the top of the tree, and the diesel variant we tested is the most expensive at $45,990+ORC, basically a $2000 premium on the petrol GT-Line variants. So, you’d buy it because you wanted a high-spec SUV with an industry-leading warranty and capped price servicing.
The Sportage doesn’t quite have the exterior looks of its Hyundai Tucson sibling, but in GT-Line trim it’s not what you’d call ugly either.