Unlike many European and fellow Asian manufacturers, Kia has not given up on the diesel dream. Yet. The company recognises that diesel still has a big role to play in countries such as ours where a lot of people still drive long distances frequently. With this in mind, Kia has introduced an entry-level diesel model in its lovely Sportage range.
Centred around a 1.6-litre turbo diesel motor, the new Sportage CRDI* is the antidote to the new wave of Hybrids in its segment, preferring to stick with the widely available and well-known diesel tech. Most importantly the guaranteed frugality of diesel coupled with its formidable torque prowess make the car a compelling proposition.
The base LX model we drove was well-equipped too, with little to differentiate it from the more swanky GT-Line models. LED headlights with matching daytime running lights, and 18-inch alloy wheels are some of the more visible exterior features, while inside a 31.2cm touch screen infotainment system, rear view camera display, telescopic multifunction steering wheel control and electric mirrors have been fitted. The interior is a comfortable space to be, although some of the bells and whistles found in the GT-Line range are slightly missed.
Of course this particular car is all about the turbo diesel powertrain, which is actually unique in this segment nowadays. Sure, rivals do have their own diesels, but those are bigger and more powerful. Most prefer smaller petrol engines now, with some taking the Hybrid route as well. In essence this Sportage 1.6 CRDI has no direct competitors.
As is the case with many others, this diesel motor takes its own time in responding to initial acceleration inputs. This applies to both standstill and change down situations. In other words turbo lag is quite noticeable. Also, even while in motion, at times the power cuts down and the car appears to hesitate. Perhaps that was specific to our test unit, but it happened often. Maximum power is not the highest, meaning in some overtaking instances one should calculate carefully beforehand. On the up side the diesel motor proves itself to be frugal, returning a strong full tank range in mixed driving conditions.
We love the sharp, interesting and forward-thinking styling of Kia, especially in the Sportage. The car truly stands out from the crowd and dabbles in the realm of more premium players. We understand this is probably its last iteration before the big electric car switch, however that diesel powertrain could be more refined to match the looks.
KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 CRDI LX
ENGINE: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
POWER: 100kW at 4 000rpm
TORQUE: 320Nm at 2 000rpm
GEARBOX: 7-speed double clutch automatic
0 – 100KM/H: 12.3 seconds
TOP SPEED: 180km/h
AVERAGE FUEL CONSUMPTION: 6.7 litres per 100km
FUEL TANK SIZE: 54 litres
COMBINED RANGE: 805km
CO2 e: 129 g/km
LANE KEEP ASSIST: No
NATURAL RIVALS: None
PRICE RIVALS: Abarth 500 695 competizione Cabriolet, Honda CR-V 2.0, MINI Cooper S hatch, Mitsubishi Triton 2.4D double cab, Subaru Forester 2.0 ES, Volkswagen Caddy 2.0 TDI
SERVICE PLAN: 6-year/90 000km
WARRANTY: 5-year/unlimited km
BADDIE INDEX: 4/5
PRICE STANDARD: R681 995
*Pictured here is the Kia Sportage GT-Line model.