Such is the intense competition in this class it has taken an all-new model to shift the Kia Sportage from the top spot last year to a highly commendable runners up position for this year’s Australia’s Best Cars. A change to the volume seller for this year, up to the top-specced Platinum diesel replacing last year’s cheaper SLi didn’t help, and the Platinum’s higher price and increased depreciation put the Sportage behind the eight- ball from the get go.
Buyers need to look at the complete picture though, as the model change and increased specification has resulted in a class leading score of 10 for standard features, highlighting the brand’s overall genuine value for money proposition. And, just like last year, the general feeling amongst the judges was that the Sportage, especially in Platinum is still one of the best-looking SUV’s in the segment. Inside, the design remains contemporary and beats the Forester in ergonomics with a class leading score.
The Aussie input into refining the Sportage’s suspension continues to pay dividends and the on-road scores remain high and the diesel engine’s 135kW and 392Nm from a low 1800rpm is the envy of many of its rivals.
Kia’s on-demand AWD system, like many in this category, can’t match the Subaru in terms of its off road prowess. However, the Sportage has features like a rear diff lock, hill-start and hill-descent. It’s the lack of ground clearance that ultimately seals the Sportage’s fate for any serious off–road excursions.