There must have been some very happy faces among the Irish staff at the three Korean marques last week. Not only did mighty Hyundai storm to the overall lead of the car market here, heading towards 5,000 sales, but its sister Kia launched the fourth generation Sportage, which is likely to have sales of 3,500 this year.
Even lowly SsangYong, which was the butt of much derision, has turned itself around with a few tastier SUVs and its sales in January were around 50 vehicles – at least three times more than the same time last year.
The Hyundai charge was led by its new Tucson SUV which replaces the very successful iX35. Sales of the Tucson were more than 2,200 for the month, however both the i20 and the Sunday Independent’s last Car of the Year, the superb i10, doubled their sales in the month.
Now entering its fourth generation, the new Kia Sportage compact SUV builds comprehensively on the success of the outgoing model, offering a very complete package to buyers in an increasingly competitive market.
The new-look interior features “high quality materials and design integrity”, says Kia, as well as great practicality and a range of technologies to improve comfort, convenience, connectivity and safety. Updated engines and transmissions will result in enhanced efficiency and performance, while ride, handling and refinement are all improved.
James Brooks, managing director of Kia Motors Ireland, commented: “The Kia Sportage has been a key driver in the growth of the Kia brand in Ireland with over 11,000 very happy customers as brand ambassadors for the car. Competition in this segment is growing but we are confident that the new Sportage will emulate and exceed the success of its predecessors. Following a very successful pre-marketing campaign we expect over 1,000 customers to take delivery of a new Sportage between now and the end of February and we are forecasting full-year sales of 3,500 in 2016.”
The new Sportage comes with a choice of two engines – 1.7D for 2WD and 2.0D for AWD . The 1.7 engine has been refined for extra efficiency and with the addition of Kia’s idle stop & go (ISG) technology the new Sportage moves from Band B2 to A4, with annual road tax now at €200.
The car will come in three trim levels – LX (€27,995), EX (€29,995) and GSe (€34,495). The volume model will no doubt be the mid-trim EX which comes with a host of comfort and safety features, including: 17″ alloys; sat nav and reversing camera; driver’s power seat; half leather seats; speed limit info; high beam assist and lane keep assist.
The top-of-the range GSe adds 19″ alloys; sunroof; full leather/heated seats; power passenger seat; smart key and xenon lights.