Even though its four years into its lifecycle, the Kia Sportage range of mid-sized SUVs has received rolling updates and model enhancements to allow it to keep pace with the ever-expanding array of competitors and better align it with customer needs and wants.
The latest range of updates has been the most comprehensive yet and with it has come the introduction of a new entry-level Sportage; the 1.6 GDI Ignite. A true value proposition, the 1.6 Ignite may seem basic, but its charm lies deeper under the skin.
Basic but brilliant
At first glance the 1.6 Ignite seems sparse. There’s no massive alloys and chintzy embellishments, nor dashboard trim, touchscreen infotainment system or leather seats. In fact, the wheels are 16-inchers, your air-conditioning is manually set and you still have to start the car by inserting and twisting a good old-fashioned key…
In reality, the Sportage Ignite offers all the convenience equipment you realistically need. This includes automatic headlamps, Bluetooth and rear park-distance control (both audible and graphical).
Comfortable and quiet
The Sportage’s interior design remains neat and looks upmarket – its soft-touch dash and leather-wrapped steering wheel adding just the right amount of luxury. Covered in soft fabric, the seats are wide, comfortable and supportive. The rears are also reclinable, adding to the already generous amount of cabin space.
Further aiding practicality is the large cargo area and easily reclinable rear seat backs. You’ll also find that, not only are the seats comfortable, but so is the overall ride – the refreshed Sportage benefiting from revised dampers and the plump rubber on those small wheels.
Overall levels of noise and ride refinement are also impressive.
Except, that is, when all 97 kW and 161 Nm of the 1,6-litre, naturally aspirated petrol engine are called upon… Revving it out to around 5 500 r/min unleashes an uncomfortable resonance. Chasing the redline is not this engine’s forte, but it’s good to know that it revs out smoothly (resonance aside) and, in all honesty, as long as you don’t try any unrealistic overtaking manoueuvres, it manages just fine.
Drive is through a six-speed automatic gearbox that shifts smoothly but tends to hold third for a little too long when climbing a hill.
Unfortunately, another drawback of a small engine in a large vehicle is heavy fuel consumption, as the 1.6 GDI’s 11,2 l/100 km average over our week would attest.
Cheap and certainly cheerful
In addition to its everything-you-need-nothing-you-don’t convenience features, the Sportage Ignite features all the same safety features as its more well-endowed siblings. This includes six airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC), hill-start assist (HAC), downhill brake control (DBC), and an alarm/immobiliser.
All of which add to this impressive entry-level package. At R386 995 (including a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, a five-year/90 000 km service plan and five years of roadside assistance), the Sportage 1.6 GDI Ignite is competitively priced in a cut-throat segment. It represents great value for money and proves that entry-level needn’t be a terrible proposition.
CyberStoep rating: 6,5/10