The new 5th-generation Kia Sportage, revealed in mid-2021, is one of those new SUVs that looks like it could throw a wrench into the established SUV hierarchy. And with its first appearance in Indonesia checked off, we should expect one in local showrooms before too long.
A somewhat unexpected guest at the Kia booth at the 2022 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) was the all-new Sportage, though rumours of its ASEAN arrival have been circulating for quite some time.
The Sportage there was displayed alongside other shiny new machinery from the Korean automaker including the Niro EV, EV6, Carnival, and Carens.
2022 Kia Sportage now in Indonesia, Malaysia next?
Though the Sportage was previewed, it is understood the model itself has yet to be fully launched despite a starting price of around IDR 735 million (roughly RM222k) being thrown around the grapevine. Deliveries, meanwhile, are only set to commence in 2023.
The Sportage seen on the show floor was spotted in a single high-spec variant fully imported from Kia’s manufacturing plant in Gwangju, South Korea, and powered by a Smartstream 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine - essentially a tweaked version of the TGDI unit seen here as early as the Hyundai Veloster Turbo in 2015.
On our side of the Malacca strait, Kia’s local distributor Dinamikjaya Motors (a subsidiary of Bermaz) is likely very keen on bringing the Sportage in to rival such SUV mainstays like the Honda CR-V.
It would certainly bolster their own line-up of vehicles which currently remain quite limited, consisting of the fully electric EV6 and the all-new and recently CKD’d Carnival.
On the Sportage’s design, we’ve already covered that deliberately sci-fi exterior, which Kia themselves (their design team, specifically) call ‘Opposites United’.
Some highlights include its bolder elements such as those boomerang-style daytime running lights, the subtle contour on the lower door panels, and the wraparound bonnet.
Overall, it’s definitely a unique-looking contender that has executed its contrarian look with consideration and some good taste, very important in its highly competitive space where it’s all too easy to blend into the sea of monotony.
The interior looks just as impressive with a more definite upmarket feel and material selection than we’ve previously seen with Kia’s more mainstream models, flagship EV6 notwithstanding.
We’ll be back if we hear anything new about its Malaysian arrival, though expect silence out of Bermaz at least until some time in 2023 since there’s a strong likelihood that the Sportage’s debut hinges on a successful CKD transition, unlike its Indonesian rollout.
On the other hand, it could reach showrooms in a 'CBU first, CKD later' fashion much like the newest Carnival did.