Kia Sportage 2WD 2

On Wednesday, Naza Kia announced the availability of the new, much cheaper Kia Sportage 2WD variant. Retailing at RM118,888 on-the-road including insurance, it’s nearly RM19k less than the AWD model and ready to take the fight to the similarly-priced range-topping Honda HR-V 1.8 V.

So what do you gain – or lose – with the price drop? The projector headlights still feature LEDs, but they’re positioning lights which are less bright than the AWD’s daytime running lights (though they form a continuous light guide rather than the DRL’s individual diodes, which looks better). You also get 17-inch dual-tone alloys (one inch down) and bulb-type tail lights rather than LED units. That’s it.

It’s inside where you’ll feel the penny-pinching more. There’s no power adjustment for the seats (although funnily enough, you can still control the lumbar support electrically), and the leather upholstery has been swapped for CleanTex fabric upholstery – with some tablet-shaped rubber ribbing on the seat backs to add just a little bit of pizzazz.

Kia Sportage 2WD 3

Elsewhere, the dual-pod instrument cluster and 4.2-inch Supervision TFT LCD colour multi-info display is gone as well, replaced by a central speedometer and a regular dot matrix display. Closer inspection reveals that you also lose a cigarette lighter – instead, you now get twin 12V power sockets. Whether that’s a loss or actually a boon is up to you.

There’s no Bluetooth, sunroof, keyless entry, push-button start or the rather gimmicky Flex Steer variable steering weighting system, either, and the previous dual-zone automatic air-conditioning has given way to manual controls. Finally, the colour palette loses the AWD’s Signal Red and Sand Track options, so it’s only available in Clear White, Bright Silver and Mineral Silver.

Kia Sportage 2WD 35

However, you still get automatic headlights, power-folding side mirrors, a 4.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with reverse camera, an Infinity seven-speaker sound system, a cooled glovebox and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Most importantly – and unlike the similarly basic Cerato KX – you still get six airbags, stability control, hill start assist and Downhill Brake Control (DBC).

Whether you choose two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, power comes from a 2.0 litre Nu MPI four-cylinder petrol engine developing 154 PS at 6,200 rpm and 191 Nm at 4,700 rpm, sent through a six-speed automatic transmission. Although no performance and fuel economy figures were quoted, the front-wheel drive model’s lower weight should enable it to edge out the AWD. So, what do you think, guys – this or the HR-V?