I’ve always loathed people who drive big SUV-type cars. You know, the type of people who ramp pavements to get out of peak-hour traffic and sit, rather smugly, just a little bit higher than the rest of us. I vowed that I would never buy a 4×4 or SUV and become one of those people. Of course, you should never say never and truth to be told after driving the all-new, fourth generation KIA Sportage, I’m thinking of becoming an SUV person (gasp!). Mostly because being a rather short female I like the feeling of being high-up when navigating the often treacherous roads of Cape Town (Capetonians are notoriously bad drivers) but also because I absolutely adored this car. It’s got everything I’m looking for a new car – safety features up the whazoo, comfort for the long road, great fuel consumption, and loads of nifty features (I’m a sucker for nifty features).

I got the chance to take this powerful new machine for a spin on the last leg of KIA’s rather ambitious campaign to set the world record for the world’s longest test drive with the Sportage. To set the record the KIA team, together with 520 test drivers from around South Africa, covered a total of 3,291km while driving through six South African provinces over a seven day period. The test drive kicked off in Durban on Friday, 14 October and ended at Cape Point on Thursday, 20th October, just in time for the official South African launch of the KIA Sportage on 21 October 2016. Rather excitingly, one of the lucky test drivers will also stand in line to win a new KIA Sportage just for taking part in the test drive relay! It was quite the ride and if you want to see what went down on the road then make sure you visit KIA World Record website here.

KIA Sportage

Safety first!

I got the chance to drive the new KIA Sportage for the second last leg of test drive relay and managed to safely make my way from KIA Paarden Eiland to KIA Diep River, Cape Town. Dodging traffic and clueless pedestrians I was amazed at how safe this car felt on the road. This newest model is said to be the safest Sportage yet, with a stronger body and new active safety tech to ensure you get to your destination safely. According to KIA, the fourth-generation Sportage has been engineered to meet the toughest and most demanding crash safety tests thanks to a significantly stronger body made from advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) to improve joint stiffness and introduce more effective impact load paths throughout the body. The car also has a total of six airbags (airbags for driver and front passenger, first-row side airbags, and first and second-row curtain airbags). In addition that ISOFIX child-seat tether and anchor points are fitted as standard to the second row of seats, to safely secure little ones in the back.

I also love that the car looks out for pedestrian safety as well! The new Sportage has a lower leading edge on the bonnet and a larger impact absorption area (containing highly-absorbent safety foam and synthetic rubber) to help protect pedestrians in the event of a collision. Of course, avoiding an accident is always key and the new Sportage boasts a Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system to ensure stability under braking and cornering through careful management of the vehicle’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and electric motor-driven power steering. Both systems come into play as soon as the Sportage’s many sensors detect a loss of traction, helping the driver to remain safely in control of the vehicle. Coupled with new Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Lane Change Assist (LCA), which monitors cars up to 70 metres behind the Sportage and provides the driver with a visual warning in the door mirror when another car enters the blind spot, the KIA Sportage makes inner city commuting and long-haul drives far less stressful.

KIA Sportage

Features for days!

Apart from being super safe the new Sportage also offers a long list of features for your driving pleasure. One of the coolest features for me is the new wireless charger for mobile devices. With this nifty feature, located at the base of the central instrument stack, you can charge your smartphone without a wire connection while you drive. The system clearly displays the phone’s charging status on the dash to prevent overheating while in use. Another incredible feature is the ‘foreign object detection’ which warns the driver when they’ve left a phone on the charger when they leave the vehicle. I know I need this feature as I’m always forgetting my phone in my car! If this sounds like something you need in your life then note that the wireless charger is available exclusively on Sportage GT Line models and the wireless charger is compatible with any handset that supports wireless charging. The Sportage also features two USB charging points (in the front and the rear), to allow all passengers to charge their mobile devices while on the move.

Another winner is the the 7-inch colour touchscreen with integrated satellite navigation, rear-view parking camera – with this feature you’ll never get lost again and getting into that tricky spot will be a breeze. The new Sportage also comes with a smart key which can be left out of the ignition when driving. Again, this is a great safety feature and also offers the driver loads of convenience when getting in and out of the car. Anyone who has ever tried to open their car door in the dark will love the fact that the car boasts a Smart Welcome function, which turns on interior and door handle lamps and unfolds the door mirrors once the smart key is within 1,3 to 1,7 metres of the door handle.

KIA Sportage

A smooth drive with plenty of power:

The new KIA Sportage offers an incredibly smooth ride. At the top of the lineup is the all-new Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT Line, which features a sportier, more responsive, and more dynamic engine and transmission pairing for increased driver enjoyment. Coupled with KIA’s new seven-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) to allow for smooth, quick gear changes, the new Sportage offers quicker acceleration, as well as improved fuel consumption. The entry-level version is also quite impressive when it comes to performance and fuel efficiency. The Sportage Ignite is powered by KIA’s 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ MPI engine is offered as a front-wheel drive model only, with a six-speed manual transmission. While this model’s engine has been carried over from the third-generation Sportage, it has been significantly revised to improve efficiency and optimised to reduce the level of emissions from the engine.

The new Sportage comes with a standard 5-year/ unlimited mileage warranty, 5-year/ unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance, as well as a 5-year / 90 000km service plan. For more information on the all-new KIA Sportage visit the KIA Sportage website.

The new KIA Sportage is available in a wide range of models including the Sportage 2.0 Ignite (R369 995), Sportage 2.0 CRDi EX (R487 995), Sportage 2.4 GDI SX AWD (R557 995), Sportage 2.0 CRDi SX AWD (R567 995), and Sportage 1.6 T-GDI GT-LINE AWD (R599 995).