Kia Sportage 1.6 GDI Ignite
Price: From R379 995
It’s hard to believe that the Kia Sportage, one of South Africa’s most successful SUVs, has just turned 25. After it debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1991, the world fell in love with what has become the South Korean manufacturer’s best-selling model – to date, more than 5 million units have been sold.
In 2010, the third generation Sportage became a game-changer, specifically in design. These days, the name Peter Schreyer is synonymous with Kia. Poached from the Germans in 2006, Schreyer changed the face of Kia to become one of the most design-awarded brands in the industry. His brilliance especially shone though in the Sportage, which recently won its second Red Dot Award for product design.
Being a big fan of all things beautiful, it was with great excitement that I accepted an invitation to the launch of the refreshed Sportage in Cape Town. The fourth generation landed in 2017, so there are no major changes to the latest model, but there are a few interior and exterior refreshers, including a redesigned front and rear bumper, an eye-catching new grille, a new tail-light design, updated alloys and a rather gorgeous new steering wheel.
Kia Motors SA has also trimmed the range from 12 derivatives to nine, with two petrol engines and one diesel engine on offer – the Ignite, Ignite Plus, EX and EX Plus.
I was especially taken with the 2-litre turbo-diesel, which is a dream to drive with its new eight-speed automatic transmission. For the more budget-conscious buyer, the new entry-level 1.6-litre GDI petrol derivative with 97kW of power and 161Nm of torque is perfect if you’re after a basic, spacious family vehicle. Where it might lack the turbo-diesel’s power, it still has much to write home about. I got to drive the GDI over the festive season and was impressed with its smooth transmission and supple handling. It comes with a bag of great features, including alloy rims, rear park distance control, a Bluetooth-enabled audio system, a leather steering wheel, six air bags and ABS with EBD.
I’m not a big fan of shopping malls or office complexes, so when I saw we were staying at the Century City Hotel, just 12km from Cape Town’s CBD, my heart didn’t exactly leap with joy. But boy was I in for a surprise. The hotel opened its doors in 2016 and, like the Sportage, it has received high praise for its design. Walking into the reception area, I was immediately drawn to the enormous backdrop green wall with more than 3 500 living plants. The interior is an ode to surprise and detail. I especially loved the gold chandeliers in the arrival lounge area, while subtle gold chain curtains and beautiful bronze metal artworks grace the hotel’s corridors.
The guest rooms are chic and spacious, with dramatic black and white tones, and the buffet breakfast served in the downstairs open-plan restaurant is superb. It’s little wonder Kia chose this hotel to host us motoring cretins for the launch of its design wunderkind.
The Sportage fights for market share in a highly competitive segment – customers are spoilt for choice with other great midsize SUVs like the VW Tiguan, Mazda CX-5, Toyota Rav4 and Hyundai Tucson. I’m betting that the Sportage will achieve record-breaking sales this year.
Ferguson was a guest at Century City Hotel. For more information, visit cchotel.co.za