The new Kia Sportage, which goes on sale in August, is Kia’s latest European-designed model to have been specifically developed for the UK’s roads and drivers. Research & development experts from Kia Motors (UK) have been involved with the testing of the new Sportage, to be built at the Žilina plant in Slovakia, from the prototype stages in mainland Europe right up until final testing in the UK itself during the early part of 2010.
“Being involved right from the early stages of prototype testing on project ‘SL’ (the internal codename for the new Sportage), in both dynamic and static performance testing, has meant that we have been able to ensure UK market needs have been incorporated throughout the development process” explains Neil Kent, Product Specialist, from Kia Motors (UK).
“Once we had completed testing for ride quality, steering and dynamics with our European colleagues, vehicles were then brought to the UK for final set-up, benchmarking and evaluation. UK testing is invaluable as it allows us to ensure we have the right levels of comfort and performance for the very specific road conditions we have here”, he added.
Kia engineers at the Korean firm’s Technical Centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany are confident the new Sportage will meet the demands of European customers as well as the challenging variety of roads they drive on.
Michael Lugert, Kia’s Steering & Suspension Development Manager explains: “When we benchmarked the leading competitors we found some offered comfort, others focused on agility. With Sportage we believe we have balanced these two attributes well and created a Kia whose primary focus is on ride quality but maintains agility and good dynamics.”
Lugert continues: “The entire suspension set-up – springs, dampers, stabiliser bars and bushes – has been developed on European roads. We also worked with our tyre partners to select specific EU market compounds. The steering also had to have a ‘European feel’ – very natural with a linear torque build-up – so the electric steering has been adjusted to achieve this.”
Following in the footsteps of Soul, Venga and Sorento, the new Sportage will be the fourth consecutive new Kia to be launched which has undergone development in the UK – Michael Cole, Managing Director for Kia Motors (UK) Limited, commented: “The United Kingdom is the largest market for Kia in Europe so great efforts are made to ensure that our new products not only look and feel ‘European’ but that they perform just as UK customers want them to. Sportage has been in the UK for over fifteen years – I’m convinced that the new generation’s striking design and great on-road ability will find favour with both our loyal existing customers and people who are new to the Kia brand.”