Kia has just slapped the face of the SUV sector.
The latest best selling Sportage is brimming with technology and improvements which build on the legendary seven-year warranty cover and faith in its engineering.
Kia has very carefully pitched the Sportage into the modern SUV sector it helped create and the new range comes in 18 versions with five trim levels, two or four wheel drive and four petrol and diesel engines in five power outputs.
Lower emissions and higher economy are attained, with the latest technology and engineering evident which also extends to the latest driver assistance systems and connectivity features. Our Sportage 4×4 1.6 T-GDI GT Line is a new trim in the series and expected to be a popular choice, and I can see why.
The engine has a good power output and some intelligent gearing to move it along easily if not rapidly away from traffic lights, and it’s fairly quiet and always smooth, particularly so on motorways and main roads.
I was slightly disappointed with the fuel return on test considering it was used mostly one-up and in country conditions, although it weights about 1.6 tonne and that probably explains a bit.
The light clutch and direct-feel gear-change matched the responsive engine, the power steering felt well balanced with good feedback and the brakes showed they had plenty of progressive power and stopping ability.
There are a host of clever technical systems to get the most out of the 4WD systems whether you are on muddy tracks, hills or just bowling along monotonous motorways and in danger of dozing in the comfortable cabin. It’s one of the safest and user-friendly family cars you can buy for any conditions.
The Sportage suspension did a good job at absorbing impacts and not shaking the inside of the car and body roll was minimal. Thanks to the all-wheel-drive specification on the test car – you can have 2WD if preferred – it had very good road-holding and handling over any surface.
Secondary controls were grouped around the wheel and close for the driver with big instruments ahead and clearly marked as well as a comprehensive 7-inch info panel and the latest phone/ wifi/ music and tablet links. As a family car it’s brimming with boredom-beating technology.
It’s roomy for driver and four passengers with excellent access once you get use to a step up entry, there’s a straightforward loadspace at the back and capacity rises from a nominal 490 litres to maximum 11480 litres with offset split rear seats.
Emphasising the family credentials there is a lot of oddments space throughout as well and the whole interior is attractively leather trimmed with bright embellishments and considerate secondary lighting where you might need it. Front and outer rear seats are heated as well.
Visibility is good to the front with bright LED lights and wipers and you have a high seating position to see what’s happening at the sides but the rear three-quarters and high tail conceal blindspots which need extra care to overcome and which really need the parking sensors which are fitted both ends.
Noise levels from powertrain and wind are low but there is a constant road rumble from 19-inch wheels and tyres. On the best surfaces it is a very composed and quiet car.
The new Kia Sportage is extremely desirable if not perfect and must make rivals sit up and take notice of what they are doing and, more importantly, not doing at a time when value for money is not face-saving but a necessity.
|Kia Sportage 4×4 1.6 T GDi GT Line||Price: £25,355|
|Insurance group: 12||Mechanical: 4cyl 174bhp 1591cc petrol, 6sp man|
|Max Speed: 126mph||0-60mph: 9.2 seconds|
|Fuel consumption: 33mpg||C02 emissions: 177gkm|
|Bik rating: 20%||Warranty: 7 years/ 100,000 miles|
For: Room, sophistication, equipment, fit and finish, handling
Against: Visibility, economy, road noise.