Longer, lower, wider and more economical than the more conventional SUV it replaces, Kia’s latest Sportage is very much a machine of the moment.
Three years of intensive design work reflects the concerns that for many have supplanted driver demands for performance. It’s now keen pricing, enhanced build quality, greater reliability, lower purchase and running costs and seriously green credentials that take centre stage for most of us.
Not that the smartly styled Sportage altogether lacks a sporting edge, for it is both lighter and more aerodynamic than its forebear, so acceleration is brisk and this spacious vehicle has no trouble keeping up with the flow. However, it does tend to roll a bit and run wide on fast, sweeping bends, a tendency I found a bit disturbing when pressing on – though a bit of extra steering input soon revealed that there is grip aplenty in reserve.
Four engines are offered, including brand new highly efficient direct injection 1.6-litre petrol and 1.7-litre diesel units. Drivers also have a choice between manual or auto transmissions and front-wheel drive or active all-wheel drive.
Many versions feature an intelligent stop-and-go system that shuts down the engine when the vehicle is stopped in traffic and automatically re-starts as soon as the clutch is engaged, contributing to excellent fuel consumption. The 1.7 diesel can achieve an impressive 54.3 mpg.
Various trim levels are available and equipment levels are very high on even the entry-level models. Range-topping Sportage 3 and KX-3 models feature a superior sat-nav system, featuring a fully integrated seven-inch touch-screen, built-in reversing camera and upgraded audio system.
Commendable features on the 1.7 CRDi 3 Sat-Nav version I tested included 18-inch alloy wheels, including a full-size spare that still left plenty of luggage space, xenon headlights with auto levelling and wash facility, rear window and tailgate privacy glass, front fog lights and LED daytime running lights and cornering lights.
Inside, there’s black full-leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, dual sector auto air-conditioning and a panoramic one-touch electric sunroof.
It’s not actually that big a car but it certainly looked imposing in fashionable arctic white and the £23,070 asking price represents good value.
Kia’s lauded seven-year warranty can be transferred to subsequent owners, provided the 100,000 mile limit has not been reached – a consideration that will help re-sale values.