Buyer’s Compass: What are HAC, DBC, SCC and is it worth overpaying for them? Explained by the example of the Kia Sportage


In Europe, where the culture of car trading is the most diverse and multifaceted, where requirements to consumer properties are higher than anywhere else in the world, most brands offer the buyer who comes to the showroom not only ready-made cars, but also their own unique option, which can be ordered at the manufacture. The future owner receives a list of options on a dozen of pages in small print, and the patient sales manager explains in detail for at least an hour or two, why this or that option is needed, whether it combines with the chosen motor and gearbox, with what options it conflicts and what positions it “attracts”. Having thus clarified the necessity and possibility of ordering this or that function, the owner chooses only what he really needs. Of course, after a substantial advance payment, you will have to wait a long time – up to three months, or even more, but the waiting is worth it, because such a copy will consist only of the necessary options, and the degree of the owner’s satisfaction will be higher than ever.

In our country consumers can only dream of such an approach, unless of course we are talking about expensive models, for which you will certainly have to pay the luxury tax. Moreover, and “ordinary” luxury brands on the European market does not offer any wide choice neither by types of bodies, nor by combinations of engines and gearboxes. It is easy to make sure of this by studying the web-sites of the respective brands. Some Japanese have gone to the other extreme, offering from the minimum three fixed kitting packages, where the customers are loaded with everything they need and do not need, which may come in handy just once in their life, and for which they would never pay too much in their right mind and good memory, but they are forced to overpay – where to go!

Safety first!

Kia has taken the golden mean. On the one hand, they do not give a complete freedom of action to the buyer while ordering the car, but they do not plan to radically narrow the number of “product kits” – on the contrary! In variety of offered combinations the Koreans are in the leaders of Russian market which largely explains big sales volume, at least of the crossover Kia Sportage.

Before diving into the peculiarities of each of the complete set, let’s examine the basic version Classic, which is available with a 2,0-liter motor, manual transmission and front-wheel drive. At once we pay attention that “classic” Sportage beats many competitors: for second row passengers here are 12-volt sockets, mechanical adjustment of rear seat backs and air deflectors, and the luggage compartment is also provided with a curtain. A multifunctional steering wheel with buttons to control “music” and on-board computer on spokes will be useful for drivers on a long journey, and for beginners – an assistant when starting on an uphill (HAC) and an assistant when driving downhill (DBC). However, experienced “city” drivers will also need qualified assistance. The fact is that many of them, having found themselves on a slope, don’t hesitate to put in neutral and trying to regulate the speed of the car with brakes while sliding down. Of course, it ends badly, especially if it happens on a wet after the rain grassy slope: at some point, one of the front wheels is on better ground than the neighboring one, and the resulting braking moment immediately turns the car around this “stable” wheel.

Actually, downhill is one of the key functions for crossovers, and it is here that electronics has long ago and successfully replaced humans, because it has the ability to dose the force on each of the wheels depending on the ground, on which this wheel is at the moment. We should note that the presence of automatic transmission will not facilitate a situation for inexperienced driver at all, and in something it will even aggravate it. The matter is that one should forcibly switch on first gear at descent on automatic transmission, and if the car accelerates strongly, try to extinguish speed with mechanical parking handbrake. But again, not everyone has this skill. An average driver rolls down in D mode, which, as a rule, ends badly: either the car twists around one of front wheels, or it picks up speed when automatic transmission is switched to a higher gear.

The base Sportage is not “naked” at all

Let’s return to the base complete set. It includes front and rear electric windows, besides there is also an air conditioner. The question arises – where are famous “winter options” of Kia? Maybe they are collected in the option package, which is called “Warm options”? Well, no: there is only indicator of low level of washing fluid and heating of outside mirrors, that is, frankly speaking, not enough… So, we can not recommend the complete set Classic in all its ascetic beauty in any way, as well as its “warmed up” variant that also is called Classic “Warm Option”, though heating of front seats and windshield in wipers’ rest area is added here already. But what about the rear seats, what about the nozzles, what about the whole area of the “windshield”?

There is nothing left for us but to be reoriented to a higher Comfort package, which adds to the “classical” one 165 thousand rubles weighty within the Sportage model range. For comparison: the system of a full drive on the version with a 2,0-liter engine costs only 80 thousand roubles, and replacement of the “mechanics” to “automat” is even cheaper – only 40 thousand roubles. We look at the set of options and see, that the Comfort already reaches the full-fledged car from the point of view of wide-functional use. Firstly, heating of a steering wheel and back seats is added as regards “warmth”. Secondly, such indispensable in a long way things, as a lumbar support of a driver’s seat (with electric adjustment) and a cruise control appear in Comfort. Besides, we should mention presence of a climate control. Somebody will say: we can do with an air conditioner. Yes, a part of car owners do not know how to use “climate” and gladly would not pay for it, but in this case we need such function of the climate control as anti-fogging system. Now, we shall pay attention that the complete set Comfort is available with 2,0-liter engine, front drive and two gearboxes at choice – with “manual” or automatic transmission. But, the main thing is that it can be combined with “manual” all-wheel drive! Thus, in opinion of editorial board, the version 2,0 6MT 4WD Comfort becomes the first candidate for the title “Sportage of dreams”. And do you need something more?


The fact is that the combination of the specified configuration with the base motor (without reference to the box and transmission) takes the second place in popularity and accounts for 31.9% of the volume of all sales in 2020. And in first place, though, with a small gap (32.1%) is the Luxe configuration. Let’s see why it entices buyers and why people are ready to overpay 50 thousand rubles. You will be surprised, but the base equipment of these kits is the same, but the set of additional equipment, included into the price, is different. Luxe adds such important for travel, as rails on a roof. Thanks to it, it is possible to place a part of the luggage (or even all of it) in the top box. It is especially important in winter, because in this case the free space in the trunk can be used for winter clothes, which makes sense to put on only at gas stations and stops. In addition, you can also put your dog in the trunk.

Another “add-on” concerns safety, but it is only available for all-wheel drive versions. We are talking about the traction control system ATCC (Advanced Traction Cornering Control). We clarify at once that it is not necessary to confuse ATCC with complex systems, which in a turn with the help of brake mechanisms or with the help of expensive active differential change traction force on each of the wheels of one axle. In the Sportage, the meaning of the ATCC system is somewhat different. Depending on road conditions, which in rainy or snowy weather, as well as when driving on slippery or bad pavement can change every second, in dynamic mode the supply of traction to the rear wheels is adjusted. In other words, the power between the wheels of the front and rear axles is constantly “floating. Many people may say: it is characteristic of all clutches. Yes, but the electronic algorithms of Kia take into account not only the change of surface, that is the coefficient of grip of the road with tires, but also the turn of a steering wheel, to be exact, not just the fact of the turn, but even its angle. It follows that ATCC works even on dry roads, radically improving driving safety. Unfortunately, it is on a good dry road that it is not uncommon to “fall out” into a ditch on a curve. It happens because the driver underestimated his skills, the nature of the change in road geometry, etc. Simply put, ATCC insures the driver against accidental mistakes.

For an additional fee, the owner of the Sportage gets an improved multimedia system. On the one hand, with the development of smartphones the value of this option falls, on the other hand, it is still in demand by motorists – at least of middle age. In addition, for the young in the Luxe multimedia bundle with 8-inch display will be important to support Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Finally, the package Luxe fully meets its name: there is a rear view camera with dynamic line markings – this position has become for many motorists of all ages quite indispensable, and a light sensor as the cherry on the cake.

Surprisingly, many people prefer not to pay extra for this set, which is obviously worth more than “their money”. There are various reasons: someone does not travel, someone does not need 4WD version, and consequently ATCC, and for someone the best multimedia is his own phone mounted on the bracket. By the way, exactly due to the last circumstance, the Luxe+ version with preinstalled system Yandex-Auto is almost twice as less in demand – it receives only 19,5%. In any case, if to speak about the base 2,0-liter engine, the opinion of the edition completely coincides with the market: it is possible to consider Comfort as full-fledged complete set in all senses, and for people, namely the families, which use their Sportage by the full functional program, we unequivocally recommend Luxe. We shall repeat, the overwhelming majority of sales falls on these two versions.

What is the result?

No wonder that exactly Luxe configuration takes the leading position among variants with telling names Prestige, GT Line and Premium, available with more powerful 2,4-liter engine. However, if you think that the combination of the “frail” engine and “full stuffing” interests nobody, you are mistaken! The 2,0 Prestige accounts for 3,7 % of all sales. It would seem a little? However, it is more than any complete set with a 2,4 engine gains. Therefore, we have to deal with a complete set Prestige.

Concerning the already considered by us Luxe version, Prestige has no external differences. Moreover, the whole list of standard equipment of these complete sets is the same. We shall compare with add-ons and find many differences, mainly intended for beauty: LED running lights, rear LED lights and decorative extensions on an exhaust pipe. The interior features leather trimmed seats. As for functional additions: very inexperienced drivers (or drivers of small height, who simply physically can not assess the distance to the obstacle in front of the car), will insure the front parking sensors, and on a slope the car will hold the parking brake with electromechanical drive. Seems a strange combination: 2,0 and “Prestige”? It is easy to guess about its target buyers: families with small children. Exactly such consumers desperately need more practical material, than a cloth.

So, having considered all more or less popular complete sets of Sportage, we were convinced that in fact it makes sense to choose from two: Comfort and Luxe. Meanwhile, the most expensive complete set Premium, accessible only with the engine 2,4 we have left aside not casually: the elements of active safety, united by the name DriveWise are gathered exactly in it. A detailed test-drive of this system is in our next article, devoted to the selection of the optimal Kia Sportage configuration.

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