Home Cars & Bikes Is this Kia the best family car in SA?

Is this Kia the best family car in SA?

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The Kia Sportage 1.6CRDi EX came out on top in the ‘Family Car’ category of the 2024 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards. Is it really that good?

The only diesel-powered finalist in its category, the Sportage 1.6CRDi EX (R709 995) triumphed over the Chery Tiggo8 Pro Max 2.0TGDi 390 Executive (R669 900) and the Haval H6 1.5T HEV Ultra Luxury (R679 950), the other semi-finalists.

The Sportage also received the highest individual score (81,9 percent) among all of this year’s finalists, of which there were 39. 

Strangely enough, the Kia Sportage is the first Korean car to ever win an award in the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards competition.

Introduction and first local award

Kia introduced the latest (gen 5) Sportage to the South African market in 2022, offering a feature-rich package and punchy performance. Kia’s acclaimed 1,6-litre turbocharged GDI petrol engine, which delivers 132 kW and 265 Nm, was the only engine option at launch.

Together with a double-clutch automatic gearbox with seven ratios, it provides an impressive balance between lively performance and frugal consumption. It offers the kind of agility and driving pleasure that’s simply not expected from a Korean vehicle (with the exception of the Hyundai i30N) or a ‘non-premium’ SUV.

Soon after its arrival in the country, the Sportage scored a category win in the mid-size SUV category of the 2022 South African Car of the Year competition (COTY). 

Enviable interior

The Sportage’s interior is more luxurious than before and the rear passengers benefit from an additional 8 cm of knee room. The boot holds a generous 591 litres and a full-size spare.

Even in the mid/low-spec EX version, the front seats, rear seats, and steering wheel can be heated. The airbag count of the Sportage is six, versus seven and nine in the Haval H6 and Chery Tiggo8 it beat to the post.

Diesel engine arrives

In 2023, Kia bolstered the Sportage range with an equally punchy yet superbly frugal 1,6-litre turbodiesel engine with 100 kW and 320 Nm. The addition of a diesel powertrain further cemented Sportage’s unique positioning in its segment: in a market that has traditionally favoured diesel engines in SUVs, the availability of such engines have become the exception to the rule. 

Despite its sporty character, the Sportage can also fulfil the role of a refined and comfortable cruiser. In spite of its commendable road holding on tarmac, it is not sprung so hard that it shake the cabin to pieces on dirt roads, a problem with SUVs from various European manufacturers.

More safety features

Recently, Kia further refined the Sportage range, notably through the addition of further Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

All model derivatives in the Sportage range now feature Lane Follow Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, making the Sportage proposition even more compelling.

More awards

Subsequently, it also scooped up Car Magazine’s prestigious “2024 Best Buy Award” in the Midsize SUV category, and closed off the year with TopGear South Africa’s inaugural Family SUV of the Year Award in December 2023.

Conclusion

In a market segment that is packed like a sardine tin, the Kia Sportage manages to distinguish itself. It’s compact, yet spacious inside and even the base model is comprehensively equipped. It’s sporty, satisfying, and comfortable to drive and returns excellent fuel economy. It has a beautiful and unique exterior design, with a touch of futurism in its elegant visage.

Finally, there’s the benefit of a five-year warranty (unlimited km), a service plan of six years or 90 000 km, and a large dealer footprint.

With local car prices what they are, the Sportage is not in reach of the average car-owning family. Cars like the Suzuki Fronx or Grand Vitara, Corolla Quest, or Honda Elevate are more realistic options to assume the family-vehicle role.

The Sportage is double the price of the Suzuki et al, but this takes nothing away from its brilliance. If you can buy the Kia, you will have the complete family car – at a fair price.

Commenting on the win, Gary Scott, CEO of Kia South Africa, said “This latest award proves the Sportage is not only the ultimate urban SUV, but that its unbeatable value proposition in a highly competitive segment is relevant to consumers today.”

The 14 Cars Awards trophy recipients

  • Entry-level Hatch: Suzuki Swift 1.2 GLX
  • Budget Hatch: Suzuki Baleno 1.5 GLX
  • Compact Hatch: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 85kW R-Line
  • Entry-level Crossover: Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.5 GLX
  • Compact Family Car: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 XR
  • Premium Crossover: BMW X1 sDrive18d M Sport
  • Executive SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLC220d 4Matic Avantgarde
  • Premium SUV: BMW iX xDrive40
  • Adventure SUV: Ford Everest 3.0 V6 Wildtrak
  • Performance Car: Toyota GR Yaris Rally
  • Leisure Double Cab: Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBoost Raptor 4WD
  • Electric Vehicle: BMW iX1 xDrive30 M Sport
  • Brand of the Year: Toyota/Lexus
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