Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi

Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus. Picture: Kia SA.

Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus review: Bringing sexy back

Meet the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus, the SUV that’s changing brand perceptions as fast as they’re flying off the showroom floor.

Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi

Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus. Picture: Kia SA.

History has shown us time again that talent and natural ability can only carry you so far. No matter your innate aptitude, there always comes a moment of reckoning. The ‘one shot’ moment from 8 Mile, when you have to take to the stage and show what you’re truly made of.

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For one industrious Korean firm, that’s what the latest Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus represents. Let’s face it, the car world is chock full of talentless vehicles that sell in their thousands each month, for goodness knows what reason. It’s almost a cliche, but what splits the very best from the rest is persistence, and in its three-decade vigil, Kia Motors South Africa has shown it’s got what it takes.


Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi
Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus. Picture: Kia SA.

Sheer numbers and vehicle quality aside, the Kia brand’s evolution is perhaps best exemplified through its evolution in design. This comes courtesy of the appointment of ex-Audi man, Peter Schreyer, as Chief Design Officer. As well as, in pure quantitative terms, a list of quality awards from J.D. Power and the like, that are as long as your arm.

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However, in today’s contracted economy, that means little without the correct vehicle. Products like the Stinger, Sorento and Grand Sedona proved the brand is ready to be reckoned with. Now there’s an offering that’s truly transforming the Kia value proposition. It’s a premium mid-size SUV with halo-car qualities at a not-so halo price. If ever there was a family SUV to make you stand up and take notice, it’s the new Kia Sportage.


Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi
Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus. Picture: Kia SA.

When Kia introduced the current Sportage range in 2022, it had an all-petrol line-up. Now it’s introduced a frugal-yet-fun 1.6-litre turbodiesel driven through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Power is only sent to the front wheels: 100 kW and 320 Nm of torque is pretty modest but it’s also exceedingly economical. Zero to 100 km/h comes and goes in 10.5 seconds according to our test data (a few tenths faster than claimed) but the totally reliable and repeatable fuel economy figure of 5.2 l/100 km is what will keep you coming back for more. Thanks to four different driving modes, the Kia Sportage CRDi can erupt down a road in Sport mode, or trundle effortlessly in Eco, the choice is yours.

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You can tell the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus is a quality vehicle by the enthusiasm it shows for corners. This is a large, very practical SUV and it’s got a jiggly sportiness to its ride quality, as well as loads of grip on its low profile 19-inch rubber. The steering weight is very light, which is slightly unnerving at first, but it’s always accurate and makes it easy in the tight confines of a parking lot.


Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi
Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus. Picture: Kia SA.

As you’d imagine, the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi has a clear advantage over its rivals in pure real estate terms. 4.4 metres of acreage and a wheelbase of 2.6 metres, which puts interior space fore and aft into another league. The rear seatbacks can be folded in a 40:20:40 split to suit your needs. Boot space is 571 litres and you can have a cavernous 1 760-litres of utility space with the rear seats folded flat. Kia opted for very practical, hose-down plastic mats in the back of the GT Line Plus, too, which is nice touch.

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Beyond the practical stuff, the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi is all about surprising and delightful touches. Its signature tiger nose has been given a fresh twist with the striking X-like headlight and grille arrangement. A low, sleek bonnet garners maximum attention and around the back, sculpted rear fenders borrow heavily from the flagship EV6 GT. It’s the most attention-grabbing family SUV on the road at the moment. This may be a Kia, but it’s as if it takes inspiration from the likes of Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar and Maserati. If you’re going to make a premium statement, don’t be shy about it!


Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi
Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus interior. Picture: Kia SA.

Equally arresting is the interior which mimics many premium competitors in its design aesthetic, if not outright tactile quality. Twin horizontal screens could’ve been lifted straight from the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the gloss-black and metal finishes throughout have a distinct Audi flavour.

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Everything works with the same fall-to-hand efficacy you come to expect from a premium vehicle. Both the driver’s display and central screen have wonderful graphics and trick functionality with a control panel that switches between climate control and infotainment buttons. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is par for the course, of course.


Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi
Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus. Picture: Kia SA.

The highly-anticipated arrival of the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus cements the firm’s up-market ambitions. Trust us when we say, this is not some marketing exercise that’s all looks and no trousers. Quite the opposite – it’s a superb all-round package with distinctive design, great dynamics and frugal performance. And at R747 995 all-in, the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus deserves to make a serious dent in the sales columns of many a European brand.


  • Best for: Quiet, comfortable, luxurious and efficient, it’s a premium family SUV for R500k less than the Europeans.
  • Not so sure: It’s not fast, but there’s more to life than outright speed and it is wonderfully frugal as a result.
  • Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT Line Plus
  • Engine: 1 598 cc 4-cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 100 kW, 320 Nm
  • Performance: 10,53 sec 0-100 km/h (tested)
  • Gearbox: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
  • Economy: 5.2 l/100 km (tested), 4.9 l/100 km (claimed/combined)
  • Tyres: Nexen Fero Primus 235/50/R19
  • Braking: 100 km/h – 0 in 3,19 sec (tested)
  • dB measurement: 85.3 ave
  • Price: R747 995

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