Killer Instinct

I was at a family gathering last week. I indulged on lamb skewers, baked salmon wrapped in puff pastry, and an assortment of European sausages. The rain was pissing down, the garden was wet, and my shoes were muddy.

I guess you could call the weather quite appalling. I arrived in the gathering at 4pm in my usual fashionably, or in mother's eyes, unfashionably late ways. The reason behind this was that I picked up an Aston Martin Rapide S, one of the most stunning cars you'll ever get to lay your eyes on, that is, if you're ever able to spot one. It's a stunner.

In a head turning competition between Kate Beckinsale running across The Fort naked and the Rapide, the Aston would win by a landslide. There are no bad angles and it makes you salivate in a way you've never experienced before - and that's all before you even hear the kind of noise it makes.

Naturally, because it was parked in front of the house where the main entrance is, many guests, some of whom I do not know personally, would come to ask me more about the car. There were a few people that saw a familiar face in me and asked if I was the 'tall guy who writes about cars' on a website they can't pronounce. Of course, I affirmed them and took them around to take a look at the V12 four-door supercar. Interestingly, an old fellow asked me, based on the Asian car manufacturers that are present in the Philippines, which one impresses me the most. In a heartbeat I answered, "Kia".


He gave me the most hazy and puzzled look as if he wasn't sure about what he had heard, so I repeated myself right in front of the Aston Martin. "As far as cars that are made in the East, Kia is the most impressive brand today". And honestly, there isn't a better car to back up this claim than the stunning pseudo BMW-Porsche, Kia Sportage GT. 

"It will leave petrol powered cars for dead and send them back to their momma's house."

The Sportage has been around for quite a while now. When I was a youngster, I only knew two Kia models. The Pride, which was the equivalent of eating your own vomit and the Sportage, which was a little more bearable. The Sportage improved through every succeeding model, like a child honing their craft. There were mishaps along the way, but perseverance paved the way for success, because this all-new fourth generation Sportage is the absolute business. If Kia as a brand still isn't in your list of cars to look at, it only means that you haven't seen this.

Being that this is the top of the line variant, the vehicle is smothered with a sea of beautiful parts and trim. The design language is brilliant. It looks like a Porsche Macan humped a BMW i3 and gave birth to this thing. The generous serving of LED light clusters really bump up the upscale look of the car along with the epic 19-inch alloy wheels. There are nice touches of aluminium on the front and rear lips, as well as the side skirts. It has a very Volvo-esque approach to it, and it has paid-off massively. The twin oval exhaust pipes finish off the job perfectly. 

Engineered to excite.

It's the same story inside. The interior is simple as it is gorgeous. It is bathed in black leather mixed in a slush of aluminium and piano black trim. The air-conditioning vents look inspired by the Porsche Panamera. The steering wheel is lovely to hold. It's thick where you need it to be and thin where it's supposed to be, so holding it in the correct position feels right. The instrument cluster is clear to look at. There's a clear TFT screen flanked by the analog gauges that give you all sorts of vehicle information. I love that the lights inside are red. They're so easy on the eye, unlike the blue lit buttons of Hyundai, which makes me feel like I'm in a bad rave from the 90's. 

The sound system is good too, but the head unit does not come with a screen. Some of you may cry foul, but I say it's perfect for the job. I would very much rather wait for the Koreans to equip their cars with a correct and beautiful screen versus having to see them install mediocre ones that we see in Japanese cars. The downside is there is no rear-view camera in this crossover, which I think could have been solved by making the video from the camera appear either on the rear-view mirror, like Toyota, or maybe on the small screen where the dials are. Nonetheless, it must be said it also has an endless moon roof - just in case stargazing in the confines of a climate controlled cabin is your thing. 

Reinvent the game.

Driving this crossover is where it starts to pull away even more from its competitors. The engine is superb. I really think that the Korean power plants run rings around the Japanese ones. It is properly quick. It has great sprinting capability and stellar passing ability. It has loads of torque at its disposal like it were cash on campaign season. It will leave petrol powered cars for dead and send them back to their momma's house. The steering is still a bit light, but it isn't featherlight like the Sorento. The brakes are good too. Kia's dual clutch tranny would make it an even more pleasurable drive.

The best way i can explain the driving experience is that you never feel out of control, no matter what speed you're going. I suppose it isn't the most engaging, but for what it is, it's pretty damn good. It's comfortable and stable, but it could use some more cushioning on the seats. Also, having halogen headlights inside a projector lens is like having a scientific calculator for your algebra exam but not knowing how to use it. It is useless. Considering that the Sportage is pretty much lit by clusters of LEDs, xenon or full led headlights would have been expected, from the GT Line at least. 

Overall, I think that my gripes with this crossover can be fixed with aftermarket equipment. It is only a preference that they arrive as standard equipment. It does not take away the fact that I think it is the best compact SUV in the segment both in design and in performance. It has a killer instinct.

Kia has some of the best and most premium looking designs, and the Sportage is their best work thus far. Such is progress, huh? I would've died hopping out of a Sportage some twenty odd years ago, yet today it is an automobile I would own and drive with great pride. Pun intended.

Built for life's adventures.

2016 Kia Sportage 2.0 GT Line AWD

Engine: 1995 cc, Inline-4, CRDi
Fuel: Diesel
Power: 185 bhp @ 4,000 rpm
Torque: 400 Nm @ 1,750 - 2,750 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic, AWD
0-100 km/h: 9.5 seconds
Top Speed: 201 km/h
Fuel Economy: 13.2 km/L Overall
Price: PHP1,795,000
+: Engine, overall design, space, fuel economy, long list of standard equipment
-: No HID headlamps at the very least, no rearview camera, seats could use better cushioning
Verdict: The best diesel crossover in the segment, for now at least
Rating: 9.5/10

Ex-Automotive Executive

Instagram: @enzoteodoro