Road test: Kia Sportage

Posted on May 30th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

Practical and good to drive, the Sportage is a polished rival for any crossover.

Road test: Kia Sportage

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What is it?

The new Kia Sportage is the fourth generation and rivals the Hyundai Tucson, the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Qashqai. It’s available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines.

How safe is it?

Standard safety kit is generous, and the experts at Euro NCAP expect the car to hold up well in a crash: they’ve given the Sportage a five-star overall safety rating.

Who should buy one?
If you want a practical crossover that drives well, has plenty of space and a long warranty, we suggest the Kia Sportage deserves some serious consideration.

Road test by David Motton 31 May 2016

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Road test: Kia Sportage

Sportage buyers can choose between two petrol engines and three diesel options. If you prefer petrol power, plump for either the front-wheel-drive 130bhp 1.6 GDi or the four-wheel-drive 174bhp 1.6 T-GDi. We’ve driven the more powerful of the two. Turbocharging helps give the engine strong mid-range pull, but it sounds a bit gruff if revved hard. Even so, it’s a tempting choice if you want punchy performance without the higher purchase price of one of the top-spec diesels.
Nonetheless, Kia reckons around eight out of ten Sportage buyers opt for diesel power. The most fuel-efficient option is the front-wheel-drive 114bhp 1.7-litre, which achieves 61.4mpg on the combined cycle. The trade-off for such fuel efficiency is rather steady performance, and noise becomes intrusive if you really work the engine. The 1.7 feels fine around town and even on A-roads if you’re rarely in a hurry, but press-on drivers will want a bit more poke.
Anyone prepared to travel fewer miles on each gallon in return for stronger performance will prefer the 2.0-litre diesels. There’s a choice of 134bhp and 182bhp versions, both with four-wheel-drive as standard. We drove the 182bhp engine matched to a six-speed automatic gearbox (it’s also available with a six-speed manual). It’s an impressive combination, with lively acceleration, slick gearchanges and enough pulling power to satisfy drivers with a caravan or trailer to pull.
The most powerful Sportage has the handling to match its performance, cornering tidily and gripping strongly. It doesn’t match a Mazda CX-5 for agility or fun, but it’s certainly not stodgy or dull. The ride feels rather firm, though, certainly on the 19-inch alloys fitted to our high-spec 182bhp test car.
A more supple feel wouldn’t go amiss but the firmly controlled suspension contributes to the Sportage’s stability at speed. It’s composed and secure on the motorway. There’s some road noise to contend with, especially over coarse surfaces, but otherwise the Kia is well suited to long drives.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Road test: Kia Sportage

The Sportage drives well, but it’s in the cabin that the improvements over the old model are most immediately obvious. Classier fit and finish give the interior a lift, with a metallic or high-gloss black trim depending on the model. There’s also a large touchscreen on all but the entry-level model, which gives an uncluttered feel to the dash. Sensibly, though, Kia has kept the air-con controls separate from the touchscreen, so there’s no need to wade through menus to alter the temperature or demist the windscreen.
The driver and front seat passenger have plenty of head and legroom, but the old model wasn’t exactly cramped up front. Rear-seat passengers benefit most from the 30mm increase in the distance between the front and rear wheels. An adult of over six feet tall can now sit comfortably behind a driver of similar height.
Boot space has improved to 491 litres. Fold the seats down and that increases to 1480 litres.

SAFETY
Road test: Kia Sportage

All cars have stability control, which includes a Trailer Stability Assist system. If things do go wrong, all Sportage models come with six airbags and the reassurance of strong scores for protecting both adult and child occupants from Euro NCAP’s safety experts. Further up the range, the list of electronic driver aids includes radar-based autonomous emergency braking on KX-4 and First Edition models.

EQUIPMENT
Road test: Kia Sportage

Even the most basic cars have a six-speaker stereo with a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted glass and LED running lights. Just one step up the ladder brings a seven-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, reversing sensors and a rear-view camera, and dual-zone climate control instead of air-conditioning. High-spec cars are loaded down with toys and gadgets.

COSTS

Road test: Kia Sportage

Prices start from £17,995 for the cheapest petrol model, while the cheapest diesel costs £19,745, rising to £31,645 for the most powerful diesel auto. Running costs should be affordable, as the range of reworked and new engines uses less fuel and emits less CO2 than the engines in the old Sportage. The Sportage has a seven-year warranty as standard which should help avoid unforeseen expenses.

WE SAY

Practical and good to drive, the Sportage is a polished rival for any crossover.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £31,645 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds
Economy: 44.8mpg combined
Insurance: Group 21
Tax: Band H (£300 first year)

Figures for the 2.0 CRDi 182bhp First Edition auto