So, you want a SUV? That’s fine with me, because given the popularity of this segment, a whole new world has opened up. Let’s take a look at the Korean Kia Sportage SX and the German Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Style R-line. Two cars that blur the lines of the small to mid-sized SUV category.
The Sportage SX sits above the S petrol and diesel variants but below the SX Plus (see above) and GT-Line. The Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSi R-Line is the range topper and abundantly more sophisticated than the Sportage.
The Kia offering, produces 114kW / 192Nm from a 2.0L petrol four-cylinder; there’s also a diesel option and AWD on offer across four variants. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic.
Meanwhile, the VW sports a 1.0L turbo three-cylinder petrol engine with 85kW and 200Nm. Drive is also sent to the front wheels via a quick shifting DSG seven-speed gearbox.
Value for money
The as tested Kia Sportage SX has a drive-away price of $32,290. However, you’ll need to produce $520 bucks for the “Fiery Red” premium paint.
Over in the German corner you can enter the Volkswagen T-Cross world from $27,990 for the 85TSI Life.
The Style R-Line shown here peaks at $30,990 before options. Typically, for a European brand there’s no shortage of options. I had a $1,900 Sound and Vision pack plus the $2,500 Assistant Package that also adds to the R-Line styling to dress things up.
This is my very point, jumping into a European vehicle is now very obtainable thanks to very competitive pricing and choice. That’s not to say the Sportage SX is a dud. Your brain will push you towards the Kia, while your heart and a dash of vanity could wear you down and see your bum in the T-Cross.
Size is also another issue here, the Kia Sportage is bigger at 4485mm long and 1855mm wide. The T-Cross is 4108mm bumper to bumper and 1760mm wide. The Sportage has a wheelbase of 2670mm v the T-Cross at 2563mm.
Luggage space is won again by the Kia at 466L while the T-Cross can eat up 385L – 445L depending on the position of the second-row seats.
For ease of access, also take into account the Kia is 72mm taller at 1655mm v 1583mm.
The 2021 Kia Sportage SX really is just a facelift and it shows. Externally it’s a good looker but the cabin is starting to date a little.
The drive is comfortable and suitably tuned for Australian conditions. Refinement is great all-round with minimal road noise or any other signs of harshness.
The T-Cross doesn’t exactly launch like a SpaceX rocket, but there’s enough power for light duties around town. In fact, it even has a rather dashing soundtrack.
Power is delivered via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. These snappy gear boxes are fantastic when they work, but I could cite numerous occasions of faltering cogs. These situations arise at roundabouts for example, not the best time for a solid 3 second delay from the tricky gearbox. However, the T-Cross seemed to be far removed from that, the only hiccups occurring when the engine Stop/Start button is on.
Handling is on point; European cars just feel so different to vehicles produced and designed elsewhere. The ride is a tad firm, but the steering is fluid and predictable. I found the interior lacked pizzazz, but very well put together. All the usual touch points are well padded while there’s solid insulation from the world outside.
The Volkswagen T-Cross is a legitimate prestige car, but it sits in a very competitive field.
Kia has been launching new SUV’s like they’re going out of fashion. The STONIC, Seltos and the new Sorento are all clean sheet designs.
Given I’ve driven all of those, the age of the Sportage really slapped me in the face. Thankfully, it’s still a rather practical car. You’ll find four cup holders front and rear. 4 bottle holders in the doors and a plethora of storage tricks spread throughout the cabin. The plastics over the centre console look very 2018, while the eight-inch touchscreen is not atop to 2021 standards.
The T-Cross cabin is a very pleasant space; the cloth seats were soft but supportive and looked very sporty indeed. You can blame the firm ride on the 18-inch alloys, but hey, you need to look the part, right? All of the automatic features I go looking for were onboard this car: rain-sensing wipers, auto rear dimming mirror and automatic LED head lights. There are four USB ports front and back and decent cup holders.
What I love
The Sportage scores Kia’s seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Volkswagen is still running with a five-year/unlimited warranty.
When it comes to the T-Cross, I just like its vibe.
It’s rad man.
Both cars come loaded with safety technology. The Sportage includes some of the usual acronyms such as LCA (Lane Change Assist) & RCTA (Rear Cross Traffic Alert). The SX does miss out on Blind Spot Monitoring and adaptive cruise control. A five-star ANCAP rating was granted back in 2016 and remains so,
The T-Cross is a tad more elaborate with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop and Go function, Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and does have a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert.
AEB is present and accounted for, at low and higher speeds. It’s actually a very sophisticated system, with lower speed impacts under 30km/h warded off by sensors. However, a front assist system will apply the brakes at much higher freeway speeds.
Bowen’s report card
As I said at the start, this could be regarded as an apples and oranges comparison, in some ways that’s the case. I just think it really rams home the idea that you can go Euro without robbing a bank.
The Kia Sportage SX is like a refurbished RSL club. It’s trustworthy and a good buy, even for the most cynical. It’s a 79 out of 100 from me.