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Review: 2008 Kia Sportage EX CRDi

July 22nd, 2008
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Waking up early on a Sunday morning is not something I look forward to… Test driving a car for all it’s got is a different story.

With a warm cup of coffee in my hand and a new set of keys, I found myself jumping into a Kia Sportage EX CRDi.

Yes it’s a diesel, but with a turn of the key and a bleep of the throttle, the great diesel rumble was not as loud as I expected unlike your local garbage truck waking you up early on a Sunday morning.


Waiting for the car to warm up, I took the time to look around and see what all the bits and pieces were. Space and practicality is key when designing a compact SUV and the Sportage has definitely kept that in mind. Self explanatory controls and displays allow for a user-friendly environment. From what I could see, the car had cup holders for my coffee, a trip computer, 16” alloys, air-conditioning, CD player with mp3 support, 6 speakers, cloth seats, sunglass holder, shopping bag hooks, central locking with security alarm, power windows, one-touch folding rear seats and roof rails.


I also noticed a flip-up rear window that can be opened independently of the tailgate allowing quick rear access to store the smaller items in the rear. Cargo capacity with seats up is 667 litres, expanding to 1886 litres when the rear seats are folded flat. Plenty of room for your essential beers and anything else you pack for a weekend away.

Jumping back in, I began to head north-east from Melbourne towards the Lake Mountain destination. All seemed to be well on it’s way and the diesel performed as though it had something to prove.

Choosing a compact SUV in today’s competitive market is not as easy as sitting on the couch and flicking through channels on the TV. With currently over 15 models to choose from, Kia has continued to put up its fight with the Sportage. The diesel variant Sportage EX CRDi is quite unique being one of only six diesel models competing in its class.

Amongst the various diesels I’ve driven in the past, I had high expectations for this particular one. Kia has had more than 30 years’ experience in designing and mass producing diesel engines for many applications and the diesel in the Sportage didn’t disappoint. The 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine boasts power figures of 103kW and 304Nm of torque with an impressive combined fuel economy figure of 7.1L/100km. The engine was first-class, with smooth torque delivery and minimum turbo lag which is usually inexistent with the majority of turbo diesel engines. With the help of an additional gear, the 6-speed manual gearbox helps keep engine noise to a minimum when freeway cruising.

The ride up the mountain wasn’t unsettling; all Sportage models feature fully independent suspension, comprising MacPherson struts with coil springs at the front and dual link rear suspension. Gas-filled dampers are fitted for a comfortable ride. I wouldn’t mind the suspension being a bit firmer to give more feel and rigidity around the sweeping bends.

The part-time 4WD system with switchable 4WD lock kept things “in-check” during the wet and icy conditions on the ride up. Fitting disc brakes and standard safety systems that include ABS, brake distribution, electronic stability program and traction control is a great bonus. When you see the traction control light flashing, you know the system is doing its job. Also included is a driver and passenger airbag with optional side and curtain airbags for a little extra which I recommend.

The Sportage is aimed at urban-dwelling families who require a functional wagon. The overall styling of the Sportage is quite conservative with a dynamic view from all angles.

The second generation Sportage KM series first went on sale in April 2005 with the inclusion of the diesel variant in August 2007. The current Sportage EX CRDi is priced at $32,490.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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