Kia has enjoyed new car sales success in 2021 for many reasons, and the new Kia Sportage SUV is expected to be another top seller thanks to the time spent tuning the suspension to suit Australian roads and conditions.
As a special treat for us in the fleet industry that technically minded, Kia has shared some behind-the-scenes images of the all-new Sportage taken during its recent local ride and handling program around greater Sydney and rural New South Wales.
Like all Kia models being launched in Australia at the start of their model life, the fifth incarnation of the brand’s most popular vehicle will be subject to Kia Australia’s stringent ride and handling program.
The Sportage’s domestic tune program, which has been developed over thousands of kilometres and a six-month period, is designed to cater to the unique nuances of Australian roads and the style of driving Australians’ best exhibit.
For Kia’s Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith, the localised program – while challenged by COVID – underpins the brand’s recent growth in the Australian Market.
“Tuning our vehicles to suit Australian conditions is a huge factor in the satisfaction of our drivers and has attributed significantly to the growth in our overall sales,” said Meredith.
“Localisation remains an important process for our product range, and despite the constraints posed by COVID, Graeme and the Product Planning Team together with Namyang, have persevered to work around the obstacles, to deliver an Australianised product to suit our roads and driving styles.
“The fifth-generation Sportage promises to be an excellent all-round package.”
Kia Australia’s Ride and Handling Engineer, Graeme Gambold, who not only tuned the current QL Sportage but has also localised the ride of over 50 Kia models across a ten-year period, is always looking to dynamically improve each new ride he tunes.
“The QL (4th Generation) was already dynamically competent, however, the new model must be better,” said Gambold.
“As usual, our NQ5 Sportage tune will be unique compared to other regions. We’re trialing all available spring rates globally suited, in order to flatten the ride and minimise body-roll.
“NQ5 will also apply Mando Shock Absorbers which feature an advanced valve technology as first seen on MQ4 Sorento.
“Due to COVID complications we’ve been forced to apply the tuning via a ‘correspondence process’, whereby we order shock absorber production samples in batches, air-freighted for testing, rather than having a dedicated Damper Engineer based here for the duration of the tune.
“While it’s been a challenge and taken a little longer than usual, NQ5 is sporty, youthful, fun to drive, yet comfortable and capable of soaking up, even the harshest of road conditions. While it’s a high bar, I’m confident it will be an even better ride than its predecessor.”