THE Sportage is the model which has done most to boost Kia’s brand image, highlighting the company’s ability to create eye-catching cars with wide appeal and backed by an outstanding seven-year warranty.
The SUV class has strong contenders including the Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Qashqai but the new Sportage just cannot be ignored – it offers good driving dynamics, good levels of equipment and more interior space than most rivals.
There are petrol and diesel engines with varying outputs, the option of two or four-wheel drive, and manual or auto gearboxes. One of the most popular choices is the 1.7 litre diesel unit, with 114 hp and mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
This was the model I tested recently, in 2WD Eco trim, and priced at £22,050 (24,499 euros). While its stats are fairly typical in its sector – top speed 109 mph and 0-60 mph time 11.1 seconds – its driving dynamics are beautifully balanced and give the car great all-rounder appeal.
A new platform helps give the Sportage more nimble and assured handling and revised engines have improved fuel efficiency and lowered emissions. The test model returns 61.4 mpg combined.
The new-look Sportage is very classy and gives the car strong road presence. The cabin is well-designed and has a quality finish.
Standard kit includes 17-inch alloys, front fog lights with cornering function, Bluetooth with music streaming, USB and AUX ports, seven-inch touchscreen navigation, rear-view camera, roof rails, privacy glass, powered lumbar support on the driver’s seat, auto lights and wipers, dual zone automatic air conditioning and a chilled glovebox.
The Sportage can take five adults and there is good head and leg-room. The 491 litre boot, larger than that of a Ford Kuga and a Nissan Qashqai, is a good shape and has a flat load lip and useful underfloor storage.
The new Sportage has to be on the short-list of anyone in the market for a smart stylish SUV.
It will impress with its looks, its equipment and its driving feel – and it does have its famous industry-leading seven-year warranty to underpin its credentials.