2011 Kia Sportage gets boosted

A few months ago, our man on the East Coast, Tom Williams, reviewed the all new 2011 Kia Sportage. He summed it up pretty nicely by saying:
“In a sea of sameness, the Kia Sportage is a breath of fresh air, that has the quality and ability to back up its looks.”

For the enthusiasts among us though, there was one other line that caught my eye at the time:
“The Sportage offered peppy acceleration around town, but you won’t mistake it for a hotrod. Buyers wanting more power will have their needs met when a turbocharged Sportage debuts later this year.”

The Sportage you see above may look identical to the one Tom reviewed, but there is one rather distinct difference. This one flies! The only hints that there is a difference under the hood is the subtle T-GDI badge on the rear hatch, a pair of chrome exhaust tips and a massaged rear bumper. They’ve done such a great job making the non turbo model look and handle more sporty than the competition that any other styling cues might be overkill.

The big difference here is the 2.0L, turbocharged 4 cylinder that is fed through a direct injection system. The base 2.4L produces a respectable 176 horsepower, but the 2.0L engine absolutely transforms the Sportage with its 260 ponies. No longer is it just “peppy”. The power comes on fairly low in the rev range and builds strongly and smoothly. Accelerating onto the highway the first time was actually a bit of a shock, as the Sportage bursts down the ramp like a dog chasing a squirrel on the back fence. Unlike the poor pooch that can’t get up the fence though, the Kia reaches whatever goal the driver wants rather quickly. The 6 speed automatic transmission is programmed perfectly to take advantage of the power range and shifts very smoothly.

Government testing promises fuel economy of 7.7 l/100km city, 10 l/100km highway. Bear in mind that these tests are done under very controlled simulations, which don’t really replicate the real world when I tell you that our tester achieved 11 l/100km in combined city/highway driving. It is just so much fun to crack open the throttle on this little people hauler, that fuel economy worries go out the window. Kudos to Kia for building a big horsepower, turbo 4 cylinder that runs on regular gasoline unlike some of the competition.

A base model, FWD Sportage with manual transmission can be had in Canada for just $21,995. Our fully loaded awd, turbo model rings in at $36,995. To put that into perspective, a jam packed Honda CRV will set buyers back about $1,400 less than the Sportage. It gets roughly the same fuel economy yet one offers 180 horsepower. Styling is subjective, but the CRV is certainly less sporty looking that the Sportage.

Regardless of trim level, the 2011 Kia Sportage is a nicely put together, sporty looking machine that is adept at moving people and a decent amount of their stuff. The boosted version takes a good little family hauler and adds in a healthy dose of performance that is fitting for the already sporty looks.

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