The new Kia Sportage will feature local tuning thanks to a comprehensive Australian development program.
Kia Australia has confirmed that the new fifth-generation ‘NQ5’ Sportage will feature a local suspension tune courtesy of its in-house engineering team led by Greame Gambold.
The benefit of such a program is that buyers will end up with a better car than Kia delivers as standard from the factory in Korea. Not to throw shade on that version, but Australian roads and driver expectations are simply not the same as in the brand’s home country, so a good six months of tuning here has brought the car up to par.
The result should be a more stable footing and better suspension response to rutted roads, according to the local engineering lead, and the program started over six months ago in New South Wales and has been a tedious process thanks to COVID; parts have been flown in numerous times from the factory in Korea and corrections made over the phone or, presumably, video chat.
“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,” says Gambold.
“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.”
Local tuning is not anything special to Kia, nor its parent company Hyundai, with both performing local tuning on most cars that they plan on selling here. Exceptions are vehiclea like the Hyundai i30 N, though that itself had much of the tuning performed by Australian engineers – it seems that our local know-how is quite respected globally.
Kia Australia Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith adds that the local tuning is key for the brand and helped grow the company to being a strong top-ten on the sale chart.
“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’s new Sportage will launch here soon, with the local firm suggesting a Q4 2021 date.