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Driving report Kia Sportage Diesel Automatic: The new SUV rival

Wolfgang Groeger-Meier
Driving report Kia Sportage Diesel Automatic 2016
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E s is, you can't call it differently, a success story. In less than 20 years, Kia has developed from a supplier of slightly eccentric low-cost cars to a serious competitor. This becomes particularly clear in the face of the brand's best-selling model in Germany - that is the Sportage. If you look at the 'original' first-generation sport, which was first offered in Germany in 1994, the rapid brand development becomes tangible. Because instead of the Simpel off-road vehicle, which was a bit oddly designed at the time, the 4th generation is now a state-of-the-art SUV at dealerships, which many competitors should rightly fear.

Wolfgang Groeger -Meier
The new Kia Sportage deliberately moves away from the design of the previous model.

Designed and developed in Germany, built in Slovakia - the Kia Sportage is a true European. When designing the new generation, the team led by Head of Design Peter Schreyer opted for a clear departure from the previous model, especially for the front end. Two variants are available. The standard models up to the 'Spirit' equipment look comparatively conventional, with the top model GT Line there is more need for explanation, especially because of the unusual fourfold fog lights.

Kia Sportage 2016

The new Kia Sportage this time as the 'golden mean': The two-liter engine in the 136 hp version, automatic transmission, Spirit equipment level. 35,290 euros are in the price list for this. The test car made itself particularly stylish inside: with the new generation, you can choose between a two-tone package with parts of the claddingand the seats are colored beige.

There is no longer too much you can tick off in the option list for the Spirit, from the large 8-inch navigation system to the xenon headlights, it is actually a fairly fully equipped car. In general, the new Kia Sportage surprises with a wealth of equipment that was previously associated with so-called premium brands. Of course, all modern assistance is available, the Kia Sportage looks around in all directions, helps with parking, steering and braking in emergencies.

Wolfgang Groeger-Meier
Convincing workmanship and, with the spirit we tested, very lavish features.

The interior in the Kia Sportage Spirit can impress. Lightning-clean workmanship and impeccable feel, that looks good and feels good too. And they like buttons on Kia, very much. There is no shortage of (large) buttons around the driver's seat, 18 operating elements alone take care of all air conditioning issues.

Recommended automatic

However, you should let it switch elsewhere. With the 136 hp diesel in particular, it is by no means a mistake to invest an additional 1,800 euros in the six-speed automatic transmission. Because the two-liter machine is not a candidate for the big drama on the racetrack, but a cultivated drive with a fairly manageable temperament. The engine prefers when it is not turned in the first place. Beyond the 3,000-tour mark, the accelerator acts more as a volume control than a propulsion-generating instrument.

This is a bit of a shame, especially in view of the ambitious chassis, because it can do a lot more than the diesel can deliver. Neutral, good-natured handling (also thanks to the fast-reacting all-wheel drive), precise steering and the almost too sporty coordination of springs and dampers arouse the driver of the new Kia Sportage definitely curious.

However, it remains in use as cozy travel car. A promise that the new Kia Sportage easily fulfills thanks to its commendable spaciousness. Only those who are constantly with deadlines on the Autobahn for mileswould like to make is relatively out of place with the 136 hp variant and should prefer the more powerful version. Because building a speed beyond 120 km /h requires a little patience with the version tested here. Switching on the sport mode does not bring any major changes, in which the accelerator pedal reaction becomes noticeably more jagged and the gears of the automatic system are turned further.

Good drive system

Incidentally, the new Kia Sportage delivers a surprisingly competent performance where modern SUVs often no longer want to go: off the beaten track. Apart from the poor ground clearance, which forbids extreme climbing, the drive system is convincing. The all-wheel drive bought from the Austrian specialist Magna works perfectly without any pauses in calculation, it can also be locked to a fixed power distribution between the front and rear axles at the push of a button. A hill descent and start-up control provide additional safety.


The sales figures already spoke a lot with the previous model clear language, the Kia Sportage is popular in Germany. The new generation will undoubtedly reinforce that. The equipment, workmanship and technical implementation of the chassis and drive are at the level of the German noble competition, plus there is a seven-year guarantee. A slow-moving will certainly not.


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