The Kia Sportage sits in the Korean manufacturer’s range just below the mighty Sorento (here). It’s pretty big so it is either a large crossover or a smallish SUV. Take your choice. Either way, Kia have struck a chord with the British car buying public as there are plenty about and with good reason; this is a very likeable car.
There’s a new model coming early next year (more on that below) so as far as this outgoing version is concerned there may well be some bargains around and of course, some 64/15 plates around on the forecourts. It’s worth reviewing then for its used as well as new car potential.
The Sportage tested here is the range-topping KX4 2.0L diesel with a six-speed automatic box with manual override. This is the only version in the current range to get all-wheel drive and is all the more versatile for that. It’s not by any means a mud-plugger but for camping trips across field or track it will do the job.
On The Road
It’s a soft, floaty ride which on our broken roads is no bad thing. Not so soft though that it leans like a drunken sailor in the corners; balance is well controlled which allows for confident driving. There are, incidentally, three steering modes to choose from, all self-explanatory. Normal and Comfort for general use, depending, and Sport which weights up the steering to give it a bit more heft. It’s a bit artificial but I chose this mode in preference. It gives the appearance of more of that elusive ‘feel’.
The 2.0L diesel tested was the more powerful 181bhp engine and was all the better for it. If you are concerned about emissions then 189g/km isn’t great it has to be said, but there are many worse offenders. There’s bags of torque (289lb ft) and this big car can really get a move on, pulling smoothly through the gears and delivering 62mph in under ten seconds.
The penalty for this is fuel consumption – as you might expect. Kia reckon you should see 39.2mpg on average but if you drive with a bit of brio then you won’t. I saw consumption hovering around the 30 mark. If you want to do more then there are less powerful diesel variants and some petrol engines. For me though, cars like this need a bit of beef even if that makes them a bit more expensive to run. In any event, if you try harder and use the ECO mode you could probably do better on fuel than I did.
There is a manual override with shifts made using the big gear lever but really I can see only limited use for this, possibly in tricky off-road scenarios. Four wheel is automatic, clicking in as required around the four wheels and is ideal for our treacherous winter roads. If needed 4WD can be locked in.
I admit to being fairly determined to dislike this car on principle because I am not a huge fan of this sector, but, like a persistent admirer, it finally won me over and I enjoyed the relaxed drive.
On The Inside
The furniture in our car was leather and the rest of the interior was adorned with fabric and soft plastic. If you must have plastic then I was grateful that much of the pale grey surface you can see in the image was made from what appeared to be ‘rubberised’ (a technical term) plastic which was quite attractive and seemed hard wearing. The heated steering wheel had some well sited hand controls and was comfortably leather trimmed.
At the centre of the dash was a TFT screen of adequate size with most functions actioned through it. All the usual suspects were on board; Bluetooth, Aux, USB, navigation, climate and so on, all of which are itemised on the specification sheet below.
Highlights included the big double sun roof (the front section opens electrically) and the 6-speaker sound system which filled the car with music streamed from my phone. The boot offered plenty of space for family luggage and incorporated a handy cargo net. For once, our car came with a full-sized spare wheel. The rear seats split and folded and the seats were very comfortable with plenty of adjustment for the driver.
The Looks Department
Although this third version has been around for a couple of years now it’s looks have stayed fresh. Crossovers and SUV’s tend to be similar in style – it’s the nature of the beast – but this one has a bit going on by design, so at least it is not bland. With some tasteful chrome touches it looks well on the smart 18” alloys.
Despite my in-built resistance to anything with ‘crossover’ in it’s DNA I took to the Kia Sportage quickly. If you’re into this style of car then this should be on the short list especially as you can have this range-topper for just under £30k with a seven year warranty.
The New One
Next year’s Sportage takes a step up in the looks department with new styling at the side and rear, pronounced wheel arches and a completely revised front end. The headlights are no longer integrated into the grille as they are in my images although the grille retains the family features.
Kia say that the new Sportage is also likely to get a significantly upgraded cabin. The company state that they have listened to Sportage customers with regard to interior quality, refinement, ride and handling and made appropriate improvements. We’ll see. There’s a new turbo-petrol engine coming which should appeal plus an array of cleaner diesels which hopefully will address the emission criticisms. Just now Kia are remaining tight-lipped on price so let’s hope they retain a competitive edge. Geoff Maxted