Kia Sportage Review
Kia’s previous generation of the Sportage rocked the establishment, Can the new model do better?
- Looks great
- Spacious on the inside
- More luxurious than before
- Some may not like the bulbous nose
- More expensive than before
- Badge snobs will still not buy one
Kia’s Sportage is now in its fourth generation but it was not until the third iteration of the car that it really came to the fore. It won over hearts and minds with its good looks, high equipment levels on all trims and its competitive pricing structure and of course the industry leading seven-year warranty.
Kia sold 90,000 units of the popular third-generation car and the maker believes this car will fare even better. A bold statement but it shows the faith in its product. However, there are plenty or rivals in what is now a packed sector of the market, there’s the popular Nissan Qashqai, Renault’s Kadjar, the Toyota RAV4 and the Mazda CX-5 to name but a few.
We were particularly impressed with the blend of ride comfort and handling (major chassis revisions and a new steering system help here) while the engine choices offer improved efficiency for those all-important lower running costs.
There are four motors on offer – a pair each of petrols and diesels – along with six-speed manual, six-speed automatic and seven-speed twin-clutch DCT automatic gearboxes.
On the Road
The entry-level car is the 1.7-litre CRDi unit, and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It produces 114bhp and 280Nm, that means it will complete the benchmark sprint in 11.1 seconds and has a top speed of 109mph. Surprisingly enough, even though this is the entry-level unit, this engine is great. It is punchy making overtaking slower vehicles child’s play.
Move up the engine choice list and you could opt for a 2.0-litre diesel with 134bhp and 373Nm or a higher-powered 182bhp and 400Nm.
Buyers have a choice of two six-speed gearboxes – one automatic and one manual. The 2.0-litre diesel with 134bhp mated to the auto ‘box will get from a standing start to 60mph in 11.6 seconds and has a top speed of 114mph whereas the same engine with the manual gearbox will cover the benchmark sprint in 10.1 seconds.
The higher-powered 2-litre diesel comes with an identical choice of gearboxes, however, as you would expect, the sprint times are quicker, it will reach 60mph in 9.2 seconds for both ‘boxes, and this model has a top speed of 125mph.
If you fancy a petrol unit then there are two variants of the 1.6-litre unit, a turbocharged unit, the T-GDi and a normally aspirated unit, a GDi.
The turbo-powered engine produces 174bhp and 265Nm. It will complete the benchmark sprint in 9.2 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 126mph when mated to a six-speed manual or 8.8 seconds and 125mph with the automatic.
There’s also the normally aspirated unit which produces 130bhp and 161Nm. It is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox and it can achieve a benchmark sprint time of 11.1 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 113mph.
This is the best Sportage yet when it comes to driving dynamics. Yes, there is still a little bodyroll but then you expect a bit from an SUV. The great thing is that it feels much more car-like, it’s fun to drive rather than a chore. It’s refreshing to be able to say this about an SUV so hats off to the Kia engineers. We pushed the Sportage quite hard and found that the steering is accurate, the ride is composed and predictable and you feel at one with the car when driving enthusiastically.
We tried both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models, both were very good and it was hard to tell the difference on dry alpine roads.
The ride is compliant thanks to the new suspension set-up, undulations in the road are soaked up meaning driver and passengers will enjoy a comfy ride no matter what road they are on. Road, wind and tyre noise are all minimal while the Kia’s cabin is one of the most pleasant in the sector. The only downside was that the 1.7-litre diesel can be a tad noisy at times.
In the car
The Sportage comes available in a number of trim levels, 1, 2, 3 and 4 a special GT-Line trim that slots in the middle and a limited First Edition model available from launch.
Kia does not scrimp on equipment, even on its entry-level car. All Sportages get 16-inch alloys, front foglights, LED daytime running lights, cornering headlamps, black cloth upholstery with grey headlining, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, air-con, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, USB and aux-in jacks, an LED front map light, cruise control and a speed limiter.
Moving up to 2 adds 17-inch alloys, a seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav with built-in reversing camera, roof rails, tinted rear windows, premium cloth upholstery, a powered lumbar support for the driver’s seat, powered folding door mirrors with LED indicators, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone air-con, a cooled glovebox, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beam headlights and a speed limit display function.
The sporty GT-Line adds19-inch wheels, LED rear lights, front parking sensors, heated front and outer rear seating, a 4.2-inch colour information cluster and paddle-shifters for cars with the DCT gearbox.
Grade 3 comes with 19-inch alloys, a de-icer for the front windscreen wipers, black leather upholstery, rear USB jack, heated front and outer rear seats, a 4.2-inch colour information display in the instrument panel and a JBL sound system including a sub-woofer.
Opt for 4 and you add bi-xenon adaptive headlights with auto-levelling and washers, front parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, stainless steel scuff plates, a panoramic sunroof, LED rear lights, 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, eight-way adjustable passenger seat, ventilation for front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic braking, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.
The First Edition is only available for a limited time period and comes with an automatic parking system, powered tailgate, wireless mobile phone charger, metallic paint, a decal set and two-tone leather upholstery.
The Sportage is larger than the previous iteration – the boot has increased by 29 litres meaning that this new car now offers 491 litres of boot space with the seats in place and when folded this expands to 1,480 litres.
Space on the interior is good when talking in terms of driver and passengers – the car offers a decent level of head- and legroom whether you are in the front or in the rear.
If you are thinking of towing, then you should opt for the 2-litre diesel mated to a manual gearbox, as it will be able to tow a braked trailer of up to 2,200kg.
The most frugal model is the 1.7-litre diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as Kia claims it will return 61.4mpg while emissions stand at 119g/km. That means low VED and benefit-in-kind tax for fleet drivers.
Every Kia comes with the industry leading seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty and the Sportage is no different. The great thing with the warranty is that it is transferable to a second owner if you choose to sell the car.
Kia is second to none when it comes to build quality. The vehicles it now sells are first class and if yu buy one you should sleep easy given the manufacturer warranty.
Euro NCAP gave the Kia Sportage a maximum five stars in crash testing. Even the entry-level model is packed with safety spec including cornering headlights, Trailer Stability Assist, hill-start assist, downhill brake control and cruise control with a speed limiter.