Kia Sportage? Would you believe – Dakar?
The first generation of the Kia Sportage was built from 1993 – 2002. It was a tiny truck with a frame, solid rear axle and a real low-range gearing. Among the most unique of the first generation Sportages was the convertible which sold in very low numbers compared with its five-door brethren.
Check out this fun little promo
Built for rugged use and urban daily driving, the Kia Sportage was fairly simple, but it was a good recipe for the American market. Under the simple and unassuming exterior design lies a real ladder frame and a front-engine-rear-drive layout. You had two flavors to choose from, three door convertible and five door wagon.
The 2.0-liter FE DOHC engine produced 130 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque with a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto as optional transmissions. Having Mazda build this four-cylinder engine helped with overall reliability, which was one of the little Kia’s notable points.
It never sold like hotcakes, but Kia did move about a quarter of a million units into North America before moving on to a crossover platform.
The Kia Sportage was rated to two up to 2,000 lbs and it had a payload capacity of 838 lbs. Sportages were replaced by the larger Sorento as Kia’s truck-based SUV. It was larger and safer – but it the first generation didn’t last nearly as long. It too, became a car-based crossover by its second generation.
Kia went through a lot of changes since the Sportage first went on sale in the United States, notably when Hyundai Motor Company acquired 51% of the company in 1998. In 2002, the party ended for the first generation Sportage. Around the world, and with names like the Mazda Bongo, the little Kia made a name for itself as a capable little off-roader.
The short wheelbase of the Kia Sportage convertible and its tight confines made it a not very popular choice in the states. At 104.3-inches wheelbase, the five-door was actually longer than many competitors. On the other hand, the 92.9 inch wheelbase on the convertible was about a half-inch shorter than the 90s Jeep Wrangler wheelbase.
Cheap as chips!
There are a ton of used first generation Sportages for sale, but only a handful of convertibles. Lots of owners lift and augment these things and there are aftermarket goodies out there for serious modifications. Prices for these tiny trucks hover between $1,000 – $7,000 for a nice example.
Speaking of badass…