Exploring the rustic island of Negros with the all-new KIA Sportage

After unveiling the all-new Sportage, KIA Philippines wanted us to find out what this compact SUV can offer. What better way for us to get acquainted with it than to go on a 234 km drive across the rustic island of Negros.

The 4th largest island in the Philippines, Negros is known for its vast agricultural land and its scenic mountain range which splits the land in two – Occidental and Oriental. The starting point of our trip is its capital city Bacolod. It’s here where we first had the chance to explore the all-new Sportage GT Line.

The walk around

Sleek headlights, sculpted hood, clustered fog lamps, and a new grille are some features that make the compact SUV look more aggressive than its predecessor. Its side and rear, however, give out a sporty look thanks to its 19-inch 5 spoke alloy wheels (for the GT Line), LED tail lights, and dual exhaust pipes.

Inside, leather seats with grey trims wrap the seats and panels. Important information such as fuel consumption, range, and the odometer are displayed on its 4.2-inch color TFT LCD found on the gauge cluster. The large vents and dual automatic climate control keep the interior cool.

The seats are not as snug as we would like it to be but none-the-less it was comfy. The GT Line variant comes standard with a panoramic sunroof. There are plenty of storage space around the cabin for bottled drinks, snacks, and other small items.

We were kept entertained by its integrated head unit which can play AM, FM, MP3, and CD and connect via USB or Bluetooth. At any time, the driver can take command using the steering wheel audio controls.

The Drive

The all-new Sportage’s 2.0L DOHC e-VGT CRDi diesel engine and its 6-speed automatic transmission gave us the power to overtake on the highway.

The long journey had us tinkering with its interior. On eco mode and normal, the engine became less responsive and shifting was a bit shorter. The suspension setting was a little bit softer which we think would be perfect for city driving. On the other hand, switching to sport mode stiffens the ride, upshifts is prolonged to maximize the power with less lag in between, and the gas pedal becomes a lot more sensitive.

KIA also decided that it would be nice for us to experience their other cars namely the Grand Carnival, Sorento, Soul, and Forte Koup.

Onboard the Grand Carnival, the front seats gave a commanding view of the road ahead. Our passengers enjoyed the generous legroom at the 2nd row captain and 3rd row bench seats.

We also loved how the suspension absorbed every bump which made our ride even more comfy. For its size, we never felt short of power especially during the uphill climb as the 2.2L turbo diesel can produce 193 hp and 441 Nm of torque.

Changing to the Sorento, we felt that the suspension of this midsized SUV did feel a bit soft especially during the twisty mountain roads. The Sorento with its high ground clearance of 185 mm managed to take on the rough unpaved roads while still providing a smooth ride.

It was on the highway is where the Sorento performed best. The 2.2L turbo diesel engine can squeeze out 200 hp and 441 Nm of torque which came in handy during overtaking maneuvers.

After a quick break, we switched to the Soul. This curvy compact hatchback featured a 1.6 L diesel engine that can put out 128 hp and 260 Nm of torque. This is then mated to a fluid 6-speed automatic transmission. Its gas pedal was soft and gentle while providing the appropriate power needed to chase the convoy.

The sporty Forte Koup was last on our list. The gas pedal of this hatchback was very eager to let us feel its 161 hp and 194 Nm of torque from its 2.0L gasoline engine. Good thing, the Forte Koup’s stopping power was impressive giving us the confidence as we drove fast on the highway. Inside, the cushy leather seats and dual zone automatic climate control kept us cool and comfy.

The long drive along the scenic Negros gave us enough time to really get to know the all-new KIA Sportage. Its generous interior, powerful yet economic engine, and driving performance makes it the ideal partner for trips like this and even for the daily drive.

For more information about KIA Philippines and their vehicles, visit the AutoDeal Car Guide.

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