The words ‘entry-level’ or ‘base model’ are descriptors and not definitions anymore as the car buying public demands more for its money at every level in the price spectrum, meaning the definition of ‘value-for-money’ is also something of a moving target.

The Kia Sportage has undergone a number of major transformations over the years that have taken it onwards and upwards in th of consumers and critics alike, garnering several automotive awards along the way and the latest generation adds to this.

Rear view of a Sparkling Silver Kia Sportage LX in a parking lotThe Kia Sportage LX derivative is the ‘base model’ in the range and is a vehicle that offers exceptional value for money, even with its starting price of R655 995, where it shares a playpen with the likes of the Haval H6 GT 2.0GDIT 4WD Super Luxury, Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 1.4TSI 110 kW and Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Executive.

It is by no means a cheap car, so the value for money aspect obviously has to be equated to the segment in which it competes and against the other vehicles in that segment. However, with the time spent with the Kia and the fact I could not find anything that I thought should have been included missing from the spec list, the value aspect extends upwards into executive level appointments.

Kia maintains it listens closely to its customers and the decision to introduce a diesel powertrain came directly from that input with many customers looking to improve operating efficiency with the lower fuel consumption – and enjoy the low down torque that comes from diesel power.

The 1 582 cc Common Rail Direct Injection turbo-diesel engine delivers 100 kW of power at 4 000 r/min, with 320 Nm of torque available between 2 000r/min and 2 250 r/min. It completes the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 11,4 seconds, has a top speed of 180 km/h and fuel economy as low as 4,9 l/100 km – 5,2 l/100 km on our combined test cycle.

The Kia Sportage LX drives through a 7-speed automated dual-clutch transmission.

Front 3 quarter view of a Sparkling Silver Kia Sportage LX in a shopping centre parking lot

For the best selection of pre-owned Kia Sportage models, click here

Now in its fifth generation, this latest version is equipped with a MacPherson strut type suspension at the front and a four-link type set-up at the rear. Even with a compact wheelbase of 2 680 mm, a width of 1 865 mm, length of 4 515 mm and height of 1 650 mm, the Sportage LX rides comfortably on the road, staying straight and true even with heavy crosswinds.

This extends to force-feeding it through some quickish corners, where it remains stable and suitably well glued to the road. The suspension geometry also works well to provide a comfortable ride with many of our deteriorating road surfaces sufficiently ironed out.

Part of the allure of an SUV is the interior space and luggage capacity – here the Sportage does itself proud with adult-sized rear leg and head room and a load space that transforms from 591 litres to 1 760 litres when the rear seats are folded.

I did say there was nothing in the specification I found to be missing. Perhaps, some would argue, the price point of the Kia Sportage LX demands at least driver power adjustment for the seat. However, it does come with electrically adjustable lumbar support and I found enough options in the manual movement of the seat to set a perfect driving position.

Steering wheel view of the Kia Sportage LXStandard are six crash bags as is Smart Entry with Push Button Start, as well as an electric parking brake with auto-hold functionality, Lane Follow Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA).

Lane Follow Assist and Lane Keeping Assist work alongside the standard Blind Spot Warning system, with the former using cameras and radar to ensure the vehicle is electronically aided to stay in its lane.

The layout of the dashboard and screens is driver-centric and all controls and settings are easy to activate and adjust without having to wade through pages of stuff on the touchscreen – it is get in, drive and enjoy!

All Sportage models have an Unlimited Kilometre/5-year warranty, inclusive of Roadside Assistance. In addition, a pre-paid 6-year / 90 000 km service plan is included.

Colin Windell