Kia’s going from strength to strength and much of that success is down to one SUV – the Sportage. It accounted for a whopping 39,683 of the South Korean company’s record-breaking total UK sales of 93,222 in 2017.
We all know the SUV/crossover sector is booming, but the Sportage stands out for other reasons too.
I recently got the chance to road test a Sportage for an extended period, which was really useful because I hadn’t driven one since the original press launch two years ago, and I’d forgotten how good it is.
To say I bonded with it over the month we spent together would be an understatement – its popularity really is no surprise to me.
I tested the most popular model powered by a 114bhp 1.7-litre CRDi diesel engine mated to a slick six-speed manual gearbox in mid-range ‘3’ trim.
Kia also offers the Sportage with a 2.0-litre CRDi producing 134bhp or 182bhp, while petrol choices include a 130bhp 1.6-litre GDi and 174bhp 1.6-litre T-GDI.
Unlike some crossovers marketed as SUVs, the Sportage is also available with four-wheel drive if you opt for the most powerful diesel and petrol engines.
The range is priced from £19,195 to £32,425 and my front-wheel drive 1.7 CRDi ‘3’ came with a price tag of £25,695.
Apart from its good looks, the Sportage is spacious, comfortable, easy to drive and I found the 1.7-litre diesel refined and powerful enough to cope with everything I threw at it, which included town and country driving, plus plenty of motorway mile munching. In fact, it seems much brisker than its 114bhp and official 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds suggests.
On the minus side, though it has low CO2 emissions of 119g/km and fuel economy is a claimed 61mpg, sadly I couldn’t manage 50mpg during my time with the car.
But frankly I could live with that because the Sportage is one of the few SUVs that handles well. Despite its height, there’s very little body lean when cornering and even if the ride is on the firm side, it’s nicely balanced between comfort and driving engagement.
From a driver’s point of view, it’s a car that immediately makes you feel at home. The instruments and infotainment system are well laid out and intuitive, it has a classy feel and the build quality is superb.
It’s safe too, gaining a maximum five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP tests with an excellent 90% adult occupant protection score and 83% child protection score.
And remember, the Sportage always has that trump card no other manufacturer offers – an unbeatable seven-year warranty.
Living with the Kia Sportage is a pleasure and I’d highly recommend it. I don’t often say this, but I was genuinely sad to see it head back to Kia Motors UK HQ.