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Used Car Review: 2014 Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi AWD

The SUV with universal charm and appeal, with love from South Korea

The KIA Sportage is popular on our roads for very good reason: it offers honest motoring at fantastic prices. Whether it is the first generation which looked similar to a Suzuki Jimny, to the second generation that cemented this brand in our country, or this third generation as described in this article, each model grabbed a larger share of the market thanks to their Japanese-like reliability, build quality, price and ultimately their driving charm.

A comfortable and spacious crossover SUV, this generation took the sales fight right to the doorstep of their rival German brands. But, it wasn’t only on price that this model had the Germans beat. In 2012 it scored the top spot in the JD Power Survey and was the only vehicle to achieve five-stars across all categories including mechanical reliability to ownership costs and dealership experience. Locally, it also won the 2013 Standard Bank People’s Wheels Award for SUVs and Crossovers.

It arrived on our shores with three engine derivatives, two gearbox versions and also available in front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive formats. The diesel models, of which there was a revvy 1.7-litre and the subject of this article a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel mill, while the gas-lovers had only the 2.0-litre normally aspirated petrol engine to enjoy. Having driven all three engine derivatives over a number of years, I can attest that they all offer smooth, punchy (especially in the diesel-powered versions) and powerful. A real-world visual of this is underlined by the vast number of caravan-pulling Sportages heading to the seaside each December period… It is also a favourite with Soccer Moms, and we all know that the thrust and punch of the school run demands zippy performance to be one of the ultimate tests of a vehicle’s dynamics.

Subjectively speaking, the Sportage cuts a fine shape. It is handsome from every angle, and the interior is neat and tidy with all controls falling perfectly to hand. The exterior is neither too bold like a BMW X7 nor as divisive as a Nissan Juke, but rather reads that classic styling that sees even the second generation still looking stylish. With top-level safety including six airbags and the entire alphabet of safety systems such as ESP, EBD and ABS, it is needless to say it is a dream drive for the family.

And this particular one?

This is the face-lifted model and that’s an important fact. We all know that face-lifted models have been re-egineered to remove all the gremlins, and with so very little niggles in the first place, all were even more desirable. The updates to the styling didn’t harm its charm nor scare off potential buyers. As a pre-owned buy, it makes for unbeatable value and something that used car buyers enjoy when they pass it on too.

The vehicle under test and review here is an incredibly clean 2014 Sportage 2.0 CRDi AWD. It has been equipped with aircon; climate control; electrically-operated windows and exterior side mirrors; Keyless Entry and Go; cruise control; Panoramic Sunroof; leather upholstery; audio with AUX, USB and Bluetooth inputs; touchscreen digital media interface; Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights; automatic headlights and windscreen wipers controls; foglights; multifunction steering wheel controls; and, PDC with a reverse camera.

It has just seen its Factory Warranty run out – de to its age – and it carries a full service history. Having undergone a 101-point check and thorough test of this vehicle on a diagnostics machine, it has passed with flying colours. It is also Roadworthy, certified through an highly reputable independent roadworthy test station, and qualms about the condition of the car can be allayed if your heart is jumping out of its ribcage to own this one…

What to look out for on KIA Sportages’ and Sportage diesel-powered models in general?

Apart from the usual shopping mall dents and dings, and light wear on the most-touched interior panels and seat bolsters, your eyes, ears and nose should be checking for any small details that would hint at something amiss. This might lead you to smell the odd odour of diesel (or petrol if that is the model you’ve bought) as there is a small percentage of owners that have described this problem. It is a quick-fix at your nearest workshop to remedy this. If this is the case, perhaps inspecting the fuel filter at the same time might prevent a headache down the road too. If your mechanic thinks it is nearing the end of its life, I’d recommend replacing it; these are also known to slowly rob the engine of power or it might even default into Limp Mode unexpectedly.

The leather interior is known to wear quicker than other brands, so keep an eye on seat bolsters and seat backs on the driver’s seat. Once more, if this is an issue and one that the dealership won’t attend to for you, then simply booking your car in at a car trimmer will solve that for far less than R2,000 per seat.

And, those are the total number of most common faults experienced on KIA Sportages. That’s not a long list. In fact, it is quite possibly more reliable than a Toyota Corolla from the 1990s…

What should I be paying for this KIA Sportage?

Pricing is subject to a number of factors. The one most people are concerned with is the mileage; any odometer readings above 100,000km are priced at below R250,000. For this one, it has a sticker price of R259,890, which is the lowest priced example in South Africa with less than 100,000km (with its reading on 84,147km at present). The prices then climb up to R285,900 with the same specifications, roughly the same mileage and what looks to be the same condition. That makes this one a relative bargain. And, we’ve tested and reviewed it thoroughly to make sure it belongs on our website.

Which other Sportage models should I consider?

If you’re after pinching a few pennies, the petrol models trade at a lower price. In my investigation, I came across a few at the R200,000 mark with high mileage. It doesn’t mean it is a bad buy, it is only means that the car’s been travelled a great distance: more than five times around the equator, in fact. However, were it my money, and if this one was unavailable, I’d search for a 4×2 (front-wheel drive version), only because I won’t be using it much for off-roading.

What are the alternative choices?

There are many rivals on the market, but remember that JD Power Survey I wrote about above? Bear that in mind now… Look at the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail, its Hyundai Tucson sibling, Volkswagen Tiguan, Opel Crossland, Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Chevrolet Captiva. On paper, these are all similar vehicles with similar levels of comfort, space and luxury. The choices are many and varied, but you need to engage your brain to make logical decision that your heart can’t justify when it comes to re-sale values, service fees and maintenance costs.

Conclusion

Amongst its rivals, you’ll find a model your heart desires at the price you can afford. However, this is a review of the 2014 KIA Sportage 2.0 CRDi AWD. And, this one can’t be beat for price, quality or performance against any of these rivals. Ask any of the owners surveyed around the world by the JP Power Survey group.

This vehicle is currently available for sale from A1 Auto-1 in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. You can contact me directly at 083 452 6892 (also on WhatsApp) or evanrothman@gmail.com to arrange to test drive and purchase this vehicle, or by contacting them directly at 041 368 8608. You may also contact their salesperson Rodney (who helped facilitate the test of this beautiful vehicle) at 082 400 0501 (also on WhatsApp) and rodney@a1auto1.co.za.

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