Kia Sportage Review
By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring journalist – tweeting @carwriteups
The third-generation Sportage was the model that did the most to alter Kia’s image.
When it was launched it showed that the Korean automaker could produce a stylish and inexpensive family car – with a seven-year warranty to boot.
The fourth-gen Sportage takes these major strengths forward and enhances them, propelling the car towards the peak of the compact SUV sector.
It’s a competitor for the Ford Kuga, the Mazda CX-5 and the Nissan Qashqai. It also steals the thunder from its cousin – Hyundai’s Tucson.
Indeed, the Sportage is rated as one of the better-built motors in its segment, and while it may fall behind Mazda’s CX-5 for room, the Kia is still one of the most capacious compact SUVs.
It trails the Kuga for handling – and the Mazda, but the Korean machine is in no way dull to drive. Its fast steering, pliable ride and civilized body control means the Sportage is one of the finest all-rounders.
The current Sportage, ushered in during 2016, is offered, as before, as a five-door hatchback, and comes with a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive set-up. There are a couple of petrols and four diesels to choose from, and you can select manual or automatic gearboxes.
The two-wheel-drive Sportage is available in a variety of trim levels, ranging from 1 through to 4. The 4x4 variant is labelled KX-1 to KX-4 so it’s easy to see which model has four-wheel-drive and which doesn’t. At the pinnacle of the Sportage line-up is the athletic GT Line, which has fog-lights reminiscent of ice-cubes, a black hide interior and 19-inch alloy wheels. The 1.6 T-GDi and 2.0 diesel GT-Lines are also fitted with four-wheel-drive.
I tested the extra sporty looking GT-Line S for this review. The model came with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, automatic transmission and, as mentioned, four-wheel-drive.
Kit is great across all the trims – even the entry level 1 comes with cruise control, air conditioning and DAB radio. You obviously get more equipment as you step up the line to 2,3 and 4. For example, you get sat-nav on the 2 and a reversing camera is fitted to the 3. On the 4 you get gadgets such as blind spot monitoring and autonomous emergency braking.
The Kia Sportage is decent to drive, with lots of traction through bends and the suspension irons out road imperfections impressively. Body roll does happen in corners, but the SUV never feels unwieldly and is a major improvement on the third-generation model.
Good forward visibility and a high driving position make the Kia Sportage an easy car to navigate around town. And the four-wheel-drive will get you further – especially if you live in the countryside. The extra traction will get you off road on to a dirt trail or a field – but it’s no Land Rover when it comes to mud-plugging. The 2.0-litre 182PS diesel, as tested here, is the best engine if you’re into towing or you do lots of motorway miles. The six-speed traditional automatic gearbox is smooth, and the shifts are quick. You’ll get 44.8mpg out of this version and, if you’re into performance, you’ll appreciate the 9.2 second zero to 62mph time. Top speed is 125mph.
Practicality-wise, you can get three adults into the rear seats. Legroom is excellent, as is headroom, and the back seats even recline – adding an extra dose of comfort. At 491-litres, the Sportage’s boot is only average for the segment. That said, it’s a decent square shape, and you can easily load a tot’s pushchair and other bulky items into it, thanks to a low load lip.
Euro NCAP has crash-tested the Kia Sportage and awarded it the top five-star safety score. The Sportage was applauded for being able to protect occupants of all sizes in the front and rear seats. It was also praised for its excellent side-on impact protection.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
• Kit √
• Ride √
• Room √
• Safety √
• Average boot size X
Fast Facts (2.0 CRDi GT-Line S AWD Auto - as tested)
• Max speed: 125 mph
• 0-62 mph: 9.2 secs
• Combined mpg: 44.8
• Engine layout: 1995cc four-cylinder diesel turbo
• Max. power (PS): 182
•CO2: 166 g/km
• Price: £32,425