Kia Sportage – Review

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By Liam Bird

A few years ago I found myself in Dublin airport with a long drive ahead of me. Not wishing to spend the next three hours or so in the lowly specced Astra my colleagues had already booked for me I decided to pay the hire car upgrade myself, in the hope of at least getting something a little more comfortable and suited to the task.

kia sportage white front angle view movingTo my surprise the upgrade came in the shape of a Kia Sportage. Was a slightly ungainly looking Korean built SUV come Crossover really considered to be an upgrade over Vauxhall’s fleet favourite, or was this just Irish humour at its best? I needn’t have worried. Despite my misgivings the Sportage proved itself to be well equipped. Capacious and more than up to the task of cruising quietly towards the south of the Emerald Isle.

Today’s Kia Sportage offers the same kind of surprises. Designed by Peter Scheyer, the same man who helped bring us the Audi TT, the new Sportage is undeniably a striking looking car. Longer, wider and lower than the model it replaces (the one I drove in Dublin), the new Sportage not only weighs less but is also more aerodynamic than it’s predecessor, meaning not only is the new Sportage far more attractive aesthetically, but it’s also more frugal: Kia claims their new 1.7 litre turbo-diesel is capable of 54.3 mpg.

“What’s not to like?”

kia sportage interior dashboard steering wheelThe interior too has been much improved. Yes, in order to keep costs down Kia are still using some shiny, hard looking plastics in places. You can’t help feeling the centre console is going to scratch too easily. But both the layout and the levels of standard equipment should be applauded. All new Sportages get Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, as well as cruise control, air-con, and all-important iPod dock. They’ve covered the multifunction steering wheel and gear knob in leather as well.

Outside, even the entry level 1 models get 16 inch alloys, electric mirrors, remote locking, LED daytime running lights with cornering function and rain sensing wipers. Add in Kia’s 100,000 mile, seven year, transferable warranty. Plus an NCAP 5 star safety rating and ask yourself what’s not to like? Oddly though, despite the Sportage’s appearance and high rise suspension, unless it comes with an X on the boot lid – which incidentally has its release catch buried down by the rear number plate, so it always seems to be covered in crud – you won’t get four-wheel drive.

“Alternative to established family transport”

kia sportage white rear angle yorkshireKia have hedged their bets that most Sportages will be driven by people who are looking for something that’s capable of carrying a family of five comfortably on-road rather than off it.

The upside of having a lack of the entire extra go-anywhere gubbins is that the associated weight saving, together with stop-start technology fitted to the EcoDynamics specced models, all helps keep the CO2 emissions down. Meaning you’ll pay less in road tax too.

So, if you’re in the market for something that’s capable of dealing with the daily grind as well as the family duties, but you still want something stylish, good to drive and that won’t break the bank, then the Sportage should be on your radar. As an alternative to the more established family transport it makes a lot of sense. Faced with the choice of one these or just another dull hatchback for nearly the same money, which one would you rather spend time in?

Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 2 EcoDynamics
Engine: 1685cc 4 cylinder 16 Valve diesel
Transmission: 6 speed manual – front wheel drive
Power: 114 bhp @4000 rpm
Torque: 192lb ft @1250- 2750 rpm
0-62 MPH: 11.9 sec
Max speed: 107 mph
CO2: 135g/km
MPG: 54.3
Combined price: £20,595


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