Originally launched worldwide in September 2004 and in March 2005 for the Malaysian market, local franchise holder and distributor for KIA vehicles, Naza-KIA has relaunched a locally assembled version of this compact SUV recently. However, it is eye-opening to see this ‘rebadged’ KIA not wearing the “Licensed by KIA” plaque and/or "NAZA" emblem but the real McCoy Korean nameplate!
Originally priced RM121,888 as a CBU model from Korea, this locally-assembled version from Gurun, Kedah now wears a lower sticker price of RM112,000. Naza-Kia believes the model will be the best-buy SUV in town as it features active safety features like Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS), and Electronic Stability Program (ESP). The 'new' Kia Sportage is powered by a 2.0L DOHC 16-valve engine with CVVT (Continously Variable Valve Timing) churning out 142PS at 6,000rpm and 184Nm at 4,500rpm. Torque is transmitted through a 4-speed Shiftronic (Korean version of Tiptronic) automatic gearbox, to a 4WD system dubbed Active Torque Transfer 4WD. It also comes standard fitted with a six-speaker sound system, trip computer and fog lights, among other things.
On another note, Naza-Kia also announced that the company will introduce two more models by mid-August, a Kia hatchback and sedan, both new and not seen in Malaysia yet. Upbeat on its sales performance, Naza-Kia revealed that it has sold over 11,000 units in the first five months of this year.
Naza-Kia Sdn Bhd expects sales of the enhanced Kia Sportage to reach 1,500 cars this year as it aims to sell 250 units monthly, although the market for the 2.0L SUV is small.
Kia Motors Corp managing director for Asia, Moon Je Ho said although the automotive industry is competitive, he expects 10% growth in sales by 2008 driven by more models to be launched next year.