2021 Kia Sportage GT-Line road test review

The Kia Sportage GT-Line is the flagship petrol varaint

Craig Duff

Posted January 05, 2022


Kia goes all-in with the new Sportage, showcasing a level of sophistication and refinement usually reserved for only the top-ranked competitors.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Kia knows it is playing against the A-graders in the shape of the dominant Toyota RAV4 and Mazda’s CX-5, and it has brought it's best to the table in the shape of the new Sportage. The South Korean marque is on the money with the turbo 1.6-litre GT-Line.

The diesel is a more efficient version, and its eight-speed auto holds a better transmission than the dual-clutch unit fitted to the petrol GT-Line, but there’s a lot to like about the premium petrol version of Kia’s mid-sized SUV.

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The Kia Sportage GT-Line is a capable soft-roader
The 2021 Kia Sportage GT-Line on the road
The Kia Sportage GT-Line.

What do you get for the price?

The Sportage starts at $32,445 for the front-wheel drive 2.0-litre manually aspirated petrol. The all-wheel-drive GT-Line we’re driving uses a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission matched to a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and comes in at $49,370.

Rural and long-distance buyers could opt for a turbo 2.0-litre engine mated to an eight-speed conventional auto - probably the pick of the bunch but not for inner-city commuters. Prices for the diesel start at $39,845 and accelerate to $52,370.

In the case of the petrol GT-Line, servicing costs are $3988 over the course of the seven-year warranty. That amounts to around $570 a year, which is more than most rivals charge. Service intervals are also 12 months/10,000km, so if you’re pulling mileage on the Sportage, the costs will add up.

How safe is the Kia Sportage?

The new Sportage hasn’t been rated by ANCAP yet, but it would be safe to assume the GT-Line will earn five stars, given the suite of standard safety software coupled to what is a traditionally rigid body.

This version of the Sportage is bigger than its predecessors but Kia has a reputation of building vehicles that comply with our national safety regulations.

All Sportage variants are fitted with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian/cyclist/junction assist, lane-keep assist, a reversing camera, blind-spot assist and rear cross-traffic-assist.

 

The 2021 Kia Sportage GT-Line boasts an impressive touchscreen
A Qi wireless charging mobile phone point is a standard inclusion

What’s the Kia Sportage like inside?

Kia is trying to polish its reputation with increasingly opulent interiors, and the Sportage manages that with aplomb. This is a seriously well-kitted car based on the price point. There is no shortage of tech, from the 12.3-inch infotainment screen to the Qi wireless charging mobile phone pad and the visible plastics have a classy texture and tactility.

Less impressive is the space in the door pockets - you’re not fitting a big 600ml bottle in there - but that’s not a deal-breaker given the fact the two central cupholders will happily deal with the same-sized items.

The rotary gear-selector is par for the course (most companies are moving to that mechanism to free up space between the front seats) and the rest of the layout is a smart combination of digital and analogue switches to active the key functions.

Hit the indicators and the corresponding digital dial in the dash (left and right, showing revs and speed) will momentarily show a rear-vision view of the area you are attempting to merge into. Simple and effective.

The leather-clad front seats are heated and ventilated and there’s a more-then-competent audio system to drown out the traffic.

What’s under the bonnet?

The seven-speed dual-clutch auto isn’t the smartest unit on the market, with occasional hesitation mid-gear and off the line. Counteracting that is a 132kW and 265Nm from the 1.6-litre engine that gives the mid-sized SUV more than respectable pace. It’s no Porche Macan but the Sportage is decent whether you are driving around town or cruising on the freeway.

Shoot lower than the GT-Line and you’ll end up with a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol, outputting a modest 115kW and 192Nm. The base models - S and SX - are standard with a six-speed manual. Step up through the variants and you’ll earn a six-speed auto.

 

Improvements to the facia make the 2021 Kia Sportage GT-Line look like a semi-premium car
A drop-down drinks tray is always handy in a family-oriented SUV.
Boot space is better than average for the class.

Is the Kia Sportage efficient?

The 1.6-litre turbo mill is officially rated at 6.2 litres/100km or 8.8 litres/100km on the urban cycle.

Expect the latter, or more if your daily duties are primarily stop-start. We saw a best of 7.0 and a worst of 11.2, based on right-foot usage and prevailing road conditions.

Given the Sportage does have a diesel option, it is well woth considering if you travel decent kilometres (and it comes with the added benefit of more power and torque than the petrol equivalent).

How does the Kia Sportage drive?

The Sportage is the most impressive Kia this side of a Stinger. Despite the added heft from the previous generation of the mid-sized SUV, the Sportage is a capable and competent cruiser.

There’s a touch of front-weight bias but you have to be piloting the Sportage at a serious speed to note it.

The dual-clutch auto is the one downside: it’s not horrible by DCT-standards, but doesn’t do justice to the rest of the drivetrain in stop-start situations.

The suspension travel and body roll suppression is impressive. The Sportage is more taut than soggy, but not to the point that owners are going to complain that it bounces around the bends. Load a couple of passengers in the back and it actually improves the ride.

Should I buy one?

This iteration of the Sportage is the most convincing Kia yet in terms of quality and quantity.

The compromises are compensated by a fit and finish that aligns the brand with its Japanese contemporaries.  It's not going to outsell the Toyota RAV4 just yet but this is a major update for the brand reinforces its reputation as a serous contender in one of the toughest segments in the Australian automotive market.

 

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