New KIA Sportage finally goes on sale here as 2,000 await buyers in dealerships
With car sales so far up by 40pc, KIA could hardly have picked a better time to unveil its new Sportage crossover for the Irish market.
It has 2,000 models of this fourth generation of the marque’s biggest seller (40pc of total sales) in the selling blocks
(with dealers since the weekend) and prices will start from €27,995.
Dealers hope they will quickly join the 11,000 or so already on the road from previous generations.
Around 2,500 were sold last year alone – a big number considering it was widely known a new one was coming.
And they expect to sell 3,500 in 2016 as the general market surges and interest in this sort of car intensifies.
The Sportage is a stablemate of the Hyundai Tucson and the latter is selling extremely well this month.
That would apear to bear out what everyone is forecasting – that this is a segment set for exponential growth over the coming years.
Hyundai did have a low-price buying incentive on the Tucson from the back-end of 2015 so it will be interesting to see how things pan out now as these two siblings meet in the market place.
The portents would appear to be good for both and indeed for anything decent in the segment because, simply people want them.
But this is all about the Sportage’s day in the sun (rain as it transpired) so let’s have a look at what it has to offer.
It starts off with the 1.7-litre diesel engine under the bonnet – it will power the 2WD versions.
There is a 2.0-litre diesel due early in February for models with all-wheel-drive (AWD).
Obviously the 1.7-litre is going to be the big seller and following a big overhaul and Stop/Go technology, its fuel consumption and emission figures are well improved.
So much so, indeed, that road tax now drops to €200 a year – from €280.
Entry level LX starts at €27,995 but not too many people tend to buy at that stage of equipment any more.
The big-selling EX costs from €29,995 and GSE trim starts from €34,495.
My KIA sources say the new prices represent an increase of around €1,000 over the old one.
We need to be careful on that, however, as that figure is only relevant when you compare like with like – and not with the heavily-specced ‘runout’ model.
As is usual nowadays, the mid-spec version is usually the most popular, which in this case is the EX model.
Standard equipment on that includes: 17ins alloys, sat nav/reversing camera, electric driver seat, half-leather seats, high-beam assist and Lane Keep Assist.
The range-topping GSE adds 19ins alloys, full leather, sunroof, xenon lights.
There is more room inside and that is due to the wheelbase being up 30mm (2,670 mm) and the car itself being 40mm longer (4,480 mm). It seemed roomier in the back and they have increased boot space from 465 litres to 503 litres. I had plenty of room at the wheel though the dashboard seem quite high and my front-seat passenger complained (as he has for several different marques and models now) that there was no vertical seat adjustment on his seat.
Meanwhile back at the boot . . . the
dual-height luggage floor means you can get (slightly) taller items in - but there isn’t that much additional depth to be honest.
And, glory be, my EX test car had a full-spare wheel.
They also appear to have dealt well with one of the big complaints from the previous model.
There were gripes from owners that the rear window was far too shallow.
It’s not now; visibility is greatly improved through a much deeper one.
The Sportage has been a ‘halo’ car for KIA during the bad times and now that things are on the up it is poised to tempt a lot more buyers.
Any car that plans on getting a new version to 3,500 owners in a calendar year must be taken seriously.
Based on my brief test drive that’s going to be the way for this new model too. A more detailed drive awaits.