Accounting for a quarter of all the Korean company’s burgeoning sales in the UK and Ireland, Kia's Sportage crossover has written a success story all down the line.
Now this automotive best-seller opens a new chapter with an expanded 16-model range, new safety and infotainment features and major equipment and styling upgrades.
Combining the rugged stance of a compact SUV with the sleeker profile of a coupé, the bodywork has been subtly re-styled while premium-car touches have been added to its stylish and spacious interior. However, poor rearward visibility remains a de-merit.
Beneath the bonnet there’s now an even wider choice of power plants in the 16-model range, with a 2.0-litre 134 bhp engine now offered with the entry level all-wheel drive KX-1 trim grade, while the 1.7-litre 114 bhp turbo-diesel is now an option with the two-wheel drive range topping 4 grade.
For 2014 the range is based on five trim designations, giving buyers the opportunity to virtually customise their vehicle.
There are now new-style 16, 17 and 18-inch alloys available for all trim grades and, I’m glad to report that not only do they come with locking wheel nuts but there’s a full-size spare and a tyre pressure monitoring system comes as standard.
Sportage has found a ready market among the caravan community, so all versions are now fitted with a clever trailer stability assist system. This works through the electronic stability control device and continually monitors and controls the vehicle’s stance, gently applying a little braking force when needed to bring things under control.
Top end Sportages now have Kia’s flex steer system, which allows three different levels of power assistance, controlled by a button on the steering wheel. The driver can stay in normal mode or increase assistance for effortless parking or decrease it to give a more direct feel when pressing on.
To make this very sensible car truly fit for purpose there’s a host of storage spaces dotted around the cabin. New for this year are a removable tray within the centre console and handily illuminated cup holders.
Six-speed manual or auto gearboxes ensure plenty of get up and go while combined cycle fuel consumption ranges from 44 to 53 mpg, dependent on model. Expect to reach 62 mph from a standing start in around 10 seconds while top speeds range from 107 to 121-mph, dependent on model.
The Sportage is manufactured at Kia’s ultra-modern Zilina factory at the foot of Slovakia’s Tatra Mountains, a region redolent with the kind of demanding driving conditions under which this car thrives.
On the road prices run from £17,500 to £29,505 and include Kia’s generous seven-year warranty, which make it highly competitive against its closest competitor, the Nissan Qashqai.