2008 KIA Sportage Review
by Matt Brogan

2008 KIA Sportage EX CRDi Review & Road Test

Functional, fun and financially feasible.

Model Tested:

  • 2008 KIA Sportage EX CRDi 2.0 litre turbo diesel six speed manual – $32,490 (RRP)


  • Metallic Paint $300; Limited Pack (Side & Curtain Airbags, Leather, Sunroof) $3000

Economic Engine, Decent Ride Quality, Improved Handling, Price
No Auto Available, Looks Beginning to Date, Lacks Brand Appeal

CarAdvice Rating:

– by Matt Brogan

2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review

When last I reviewed the Kia Sportage mention was made that although it was a decent offering for the price, it would have been all the better for the want of a diesel option and ESP – I must have been channeling Nostradamus.

The Sportage EX CRDi now not only comes with standard ESP but also gains a sweet common rail turbo diesel engine which, thankfully, has helped curb the mid-sized Korean SUV’s drinking problem. Along with a few minor aesthetic refinements, most noticeably colour coded bumpers, the most current Sportage has managed, if only just, to stave off old age a little while longer.

Fortunately it’s not only the looks that have improved for the cheerful Sportage, a few other refinements make this year’s model a quieter, better handling car that is also safer, more confident and more economical than the petrol variant for a very modest increase in price.

Whilst on the outside the Sportage’s looks are far from inspiring, they are passable and practical, offering good all round vision from a cabin that has a reasonably attractive decor, albeit with extensive use of dark grey plastic. The seating is generously proportioned and comfortable (driver has eight way adjustment) and all controls and switch gear, despite being rather basic, are functional and fall to hand readily.

2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review

Motivated by a capable 2.0-litre, SOHC, turbo diesel engine producing a modest 103kW at 4000rpm and a decent 304Nm of torque from 1800rpm, Sportage is hardly what I’d call brisk performer, especially in the middle reaches. But thanks to a decent spread of gears from the new six-speed manual (no auto for diesel – yet), it is certainly very capable, especially at urban speeds, and allows it’s considerable mass to be hauled with enough pep to keep par with most similarly rivals – even when loaded to the hilt.

The engine is fairly quiet once warm and cruising is even quieter than the petrol model tested last time. Fuel economy too has improved dramatically and when compared to the 2.7-litre V6, which drank like the best man at a buck’s party, offers a far more rational approach to consumption with a combined figure of just 7.1L/100km. Best of all, it’s real world achievable and even around town my figures hovered in the low eight litre range.

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Body roll feels substantially more well restrained with twin tube gas shockers under the MacPherson strut front and dual link rear suspension hinting at some revision since last we met. The ride still feels compliant, though the heavier engine block noticeable impacts negatively on both understeer characteristics and steering feedback. Even during low speed manouveres, tight cornering (think car park) can induce a return action through the wheel which proves needlessly strong, even snappy in certain situations.

2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review

Off road capabilities are somewhat limited, as you’d no doubt expect from a soft roader, and the high centre of gravity is more pronounced when reaching the threshold of Sportage’s angle of attack. A switchable 4WD mode which locks the centre differential for 50:50 drive distribution up to 35km/h is enough for moderate work on rough terrain, mud or snow and combined with 195mm of ground clearance, engine and fuel tank skid plates and 60 profile tyres on 16″ alloys, the weekend jaunt away from the black stuff can be made just a little more adventurous.

Braking is adequate considering the mass of the vehicle and offers reasonable pedal feedback and decent fade resistance. The ABS is well calibrated, with a slightly delayed threshold for off road use and overall did the job with no nasty surprises, something a few other low-end SUVs could take a lesson from.

Cabin storage, as in all Kias, is a well considered offering with an abundance of cup holders, door pockets, seat back pockets, large lockable glove box, sunglasses holder, and deep console bin providing more than enough hidey holes for all your knick knacks and goodies. The centre console seems to have lost its neat twin fold adjustable lid but this doesn’t detract too much from the overall appeal.

The large load space is accessed via a top hinged tailgate which also has a neat flip up window and offers 667 litres with the seats up, a larger area than that of the majority of Sportage’s rivals. The rear seats fold 60:40 to extend this area to over 1886 litres and with luggage ties down points, a cargo net, fold flat front passenger seat, retractable and removable blind, 12V outlet and boot lip scuff plate all standard, load demands are well and truly catered for.

2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review

If by chance all of this isn’t enough, Sportage also comes with standard roof rails (100kg capacity), optional ancillary attachments to cater for a wide array of outdoor pursuits, and the added option of a 1600kg (braked) tow kit.

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On the all important safety front, the Sportage is a quiet achiever with ABS, dual front airbags, EBD, ESP, side impact reinforcement, three child seat anchor points and Traction Control giving the Sportage a five star NHTSA rating when tested with side airbags fitted. Although Sportage CRDi has not yet been assessed by ANCAP, its cousin the Hyudai Tucson, managed four stars.

Standard features include remote central locking, manual air-conditioning (with dust and pollen filter), front and rear foglamps, mudflaps on all four corners, power mirrors and windows, cruise control, trip computer, reclining rear seats with centre armrest, and a six speaker single CD tuner, all of which draw no real complaints.

Whilst on the whole the Sportage is a good package, there are a few points that bring down the overall tone of the vehicle, which when you consider the price is to be expected. They’re not major quibbles, in fact they’re trivial if anything, but to me at least attention to detail is a must.

2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review
2008 KIA Sportage Review

Stereo illumination doesn’t dim at all with the instrumentation lights, gauge lay out is unimaginative and tacky, the thin steering wheel not as nice as the leather one offered in the predecessor, a wafer thin urethane boot around gear stick will last about five minutes, front demister takes a while, rear centre seatbelt is a two piece unit that retracts from the roof, there’s no telescopic adjustment on the steering column (tilt only), and the reach to first gear is, for shorter people at least, quite a stretch.

As I said, in the scheme of things they’re not big issues, but they do add up in the mind of the buyer and if Kia is to move ahead in the same way cousin Hyundai has, these small issues will need to be addressed.

The functionality, practicality and usability of this vehicle are above all else its saving graces and in summary Sportage does offer a lot of car for the money, even if the aesthetics aren’t quite there yet. So if you’re a prudent and prospicient buyer looking for roomy, safe transport then this could just be what you’re looking for.

CarAdvice Overall Rating:
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:


  • Engine: 1991cc SOHC Four Cylinder 16 Valve
  • Induction: Common Rail Injection & Turbo
  • Power: 103kW@4000rpm
  • Torque: 304Nm@1800rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Brakes: Four-wheel discs with ABS & EBD
  • Driven Wheels: Part-time 4WD with lock mode
  • 0-100: 12.0 seconds
  • Top Speed: 176km/h
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.1 litres/100km (Combined)
  • Safety: ESP, TCS, & dual front airbags
  • Service Interval: 6 month/10,000km
  • Spare Wheel: Full size alloy
  • Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
  • Towing Capacity: 1600kg (Braked)
  • Warranty: 5 year/unlimited kilometres
  • Weight: 1727kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: 16″ Alloys

Road Test the Rivals:

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Lightbulb

    Another very good car from a Korean company which along with Hyundai are heading to the top.

    Cheers !

  • SumoDog

    Modest 103 kW? you don’t get any more from VW 2.0 tdi in mid spec,although VW do have a bit more torque.


    Why bother with Korean junk, I would rather buy a skateboard for transport, more reliable and you don’t have to worry about wearing “I’m a tightarse” tag everyday.

    • Jay Krishnan

      GM cars could be called junk. Not Kia or Hyundai. They are value for money. Japanese cars were looked down about 40 years back. The same cars went on to rule the world. Korean products are nearly as good as Japanese. When you think of TV you think of Sony/ Panasonic and then think of Samsung / LG. The quality difference is nearly nil. At times, Korean products are better in quality, resale and price. Brand image is where Korean cars are behind Japs. Honda is great, but Hyundai not quite. That attitude is also changing.

  • Sgt.Sweetchuck

    Ac Cobra


    Why bother with Korean junk, I would rather buy a skateboard for transport, more reliable and you don’t have to worry about wearing “I’m a tightarse” tag everyday.

    What a totally dumb and ill informed comment AC.

  • Jimbo

    Eyma Teapot is right, I don’t think it will be long before people stop referring to Korean cars as junk. They have come a long way and are still getting better.

    That said if it was my money would go for the Diesel Suzuki or the VW if I could afford it.


    Well Eyma, has your Korean made rocket had an overhaul yet, if not I have a spare Ryobi grass cutting engine ready, when you reach the end of your warranty and the original engine has blown give me a call I would be very happy to keep a KIA going for another 20,000Kms trouble free driving, sorry but no extended warranty I can’t trust any other KIA failing mechanicals that would connect to this Ryobi engine.

  • realcars

    ac cobra- Ford lovers in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Ha ha hA.


    Realcars I have no stones here, what about sticks I have plenty of them, won’t break the glass but still hurt when they make contact.


  • JW

    I’d rather have the Hyundai version.

  • Alex

    Im sorry but I thought you could now get a Diesel Tiguan for only $1000 more? Will anybody buy this now? Plus the Tiguans got an auto option. Its funny really because the same people that have european car prejudice (reliability, build quality…) often also have korean car prejudice but im sure theyll be happy with their CRV, Rav4, Outlander or Forester. Id prefer a Tuscon over this. It looks better and has the same mechanics. Oh and AC COBRA, give it a rest and go and test drive an i30. Then come back. If Korean cars are so crappy then why are there so many still on the roads that are over 10 years old?

    PS. Im not someone that thinks that Korean cars are bad and definately not europeans.

  • Garry

    A/C I drove a hired auto getz recently with 170,000 on the clock.It was great to drive no rattles,nothing falling off it.The interior was a bit knocked around the hire car rep said they had it since new 2003 and apart from regular servicing that all they have done to it.Your just another stupid australian with redneck views.

  • Duck

    Isnt the Hyundai version of the Kia Sportage the Tucson?

  • Duck

    “Your just another stupid australian with redneck views. ”

    May I ask where you are from Garry?

  • Duck

    You know how everybody calls the TK Barina a death trap? I agree, but do you know that the current Hyundai Getz has also a 2 star ANCAP score the same as the TK Barina?

  • Duck

    Ummmmmm……………Garry I would not call aussies stupid!

  • Garry

    I live in Australia but the thing with me is that I finished High School starting to think with the comments on this website that 90% of the people here didnot.70% of Australians are fat,racist,rednecks and I forgot with little or no education,which means very very closed minded.

  • knee how

    HA, a/c I am proud to be a tight arse thanks. I mean, it sure is smarter than wasting money for what people at your level would term image. Is your job devoted to spreading ignorance, or are you always so stupid or is today a special occasion?
    I don’t want to make a monkey out of you. Why should I take all the credit?

  • MJ

    I’ve had Kia’s and hyundai’s in my family for many years now, and have found them to be the most reliable car going, as apposed to my fords and holdens and toyotas that I’ve also had, that always seem to break down.
    I find my Brand new Sportage to be a fantastic car, and ya can’t beat the value for money, You get all the goodies standard, That ya have to pay extra on Suv’s worth alot more. Go Kia !!

  • Nelio Tontoni

    I am looking forward to test driving this little beastie. Being a tight-arsed Kiwi of Scots origin via Zimbabwe I have no qualms about saving a sh**load of money on purchase price and running costs, and the 5 year unlimited km warranty instils a lot of confidence.I wouldn’t buy a Cayenne or similar even with unlimited funds because it would be a waste of money. Screw fashion and so called status – it’s not for me.

  • Rachael

    I have had a kia sportage for 3years now, and and last year i have been having lots of troubles with it. It was staling and running rough i took it in to a mechanic and wernt very heplful , now it is playing up for the second time and its 1 month out of warranty with 40,000km on the clock.
    All up im not very happy with kia and i would not recondmend buying one.

  • http://www.automobiletalk.org/viewforum.php?f=46 Kia Forum

    kia has come a long way…older ones succed but the newer ones are good… not like a toyota yet but their getting there….

  • http://www.foldingcampersonline.com Used folding campers

    Hey KIA has a name in the South Asian auto car market. It has emerged as the luxurious brand. I feel this brand should launch vehicle segment using different new techniques. This will surely benefit this vehicle.