The new Kia Sportage SL was launched in Malaysia last week, and while we haven’t had the chance to drive the car yet as all available stocks are being assigned for delivery to customers, but we were given a technical walkaround of the new SUV yesterday. Like all of the new Schreyer cars, it’s quite a massive difference from the car it replaces.

At the front, the most prominent feature is the huge chrome grille with the ‘Schreyer Line’ surrounding it, a common design feature on all new Kias.

Turn the ignition on and the headlamp’s LED daytime running lights come on. Turn off the ignition and the ‘follow me home’ feature allows the headlamps remain on for 30 seconds to light up the path to your door.

The side view is dominated by the large 18 inch alloy wheels with a two tone finish wrapped with 235/55R18 tyres, as well as a thick C pillar design. The Sportage takes on a more straight cut techno age design compared to its H-badged sibling’s more fluidic design.

Kia has chosen to offer the Sportage in just one high spec and premium priced variant, so they’ve also thrown in a panoramic sunroof. The front half of the sunroof can be manipulated, while the rear half is fixed but still provides a view of the sky.

Interestingly, Kia’s design team has decided to separate the brake lamp from the turn signals, which are positioned lower near the bumper. There’s also a rear spoiler, and a reverse parking system that uses four sensors.

The colour scheme on the interior is predominantly dark grey, which should be relatively easy to maintain. Build quality in term of panel gaps were quite decent. The display backlighting is red.

The instrument panel features a three section design with a multi-info display integrated right into the middle of the speedometer. There’s also an analog water temp display, something that’s slowly going missing from modern cars. The seats are finished in leather and the driver’s seat is 8 way adjustable. The rear bench has a 60:40 split.

There’s a start-stop button which allows you to start the car without inserting the key fob into a socket.

The audio unit has a built in 6-CD changer with MP3 support, and it also has a USB cable included for you to plug your iPod/iPhone in. There’s a little tray near where the USB port is so you have somewhere to place your device. The audio system is uses 7 speakers – 4 door speakers, 2 tweeters, and one subwoofer built into the right side of the luggage area.

Flanking the USB port are two vehicle power sockets so you can charge two phones or perhaps one phone and one GPS device at the same time, and there’s another one in the boot as well. The glove box has a cooler function.

The steering wheel holds the controls for the audio, the cruise control system, and there’s also two buttons to control the Bluetooth hands-free system on one of the lower spokes of the steering wheel. The accelerator pedal is floor mounted.

The climate control system has a dual zone feature which allows two separate temperatures for the left and right side of the cabin. There’s also something which Kia calls the Clean Air system, which is actually an ion generator.

One of the more interesting features of the car is how the reverse camera display is shown. Notice that there’s no big LCD screen at the audio unit area to show the reverse camera. The reverse view is instead displayed in a little window on the left of the rear view mirror.

You can view the video above for a demo of how it looks like. The rear view mirror also has an electro-chromic function which automatically dims to reduce glare from an approaching vehicle’s headlamps.

The luggage area is 740 litres in volume and measures 800mm long, 1,178mm wide and 785mm tall. There’s a luggage net and a cargo screen provided. If you lift up the luggage floor and hook it up, you’ll find a full size spare tyre.

We’re keen to drive the Sportage to find out how it performs but all we can do is cite figures now. The 2.0 litre engine in the Sportage is similar to the unit in the Tucson and is one of the more powerful normally aspirated port injection 2.0 litre engines around, producing 166 hp and 197 Nm of torque thanks to its dual CVVT system, which varies valve control on both the intake and exhaust. The engine also uses a drive by wire throttle and a variable intake system.

The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission which has manual shifting capabilities. The gearbox sends power to a AWD system that only engages the rear wheels when necessary, although it has a LOCK system for you to force power to all four wheels in a 50:50 front to rear split at speeds of under 30km/h.

The Sportage uses ASD dampers, which stand for Amplitude Selective Damper. Under normal road conditions, the sliding ASD valve allows for a smooth ride, but when you drive on rough roads or are cornering, the ADS valve becomes fixed and allows a higher damping force for better stability.

The AWD system is also supported by an ESP system which includes ABS brakes, Cornering Brake Control, Brake Assist, a Traction Control system, a Downhill Brake Control system designed to help the driver maintain the vehicle’s speed on steep and downhill descends, and Hill-start Assist Control which helps keep the brakes on while you lift your foot off the brakes to begin accelerating – this is to ensure there is minimal backward rolling on steep ascends. In the event that you crash, there are 6 airbags and active headrests.

We’ll be back with a test drive report as soon as we can get our hands on a test drive unit, so stay tuned!

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