Kia Sportage review
Stylish looks and a great-value price tag make the Kia Sportage a hugely desirable crossover
The Kia Sportage is a rival to the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti, and thanks to its stunning looks, a long list of standard kit and strong build quality, it's the most desirable model yet from the ambitious Korean manufacturer. Kia is the only brand in the UK to offer a seven-year warranty on its new cars, and it’s something that really sets it apart from its competitors. And while the Sportage doesn’t quite match its upmarket rivals for badge prestige, it makes up for it with a lower price and plenty of style. Kia design boss Peter Schreyer was the man behind the Audi TT, and it shows – the Sportage garners more admiring glances than many premium alternatives.
Our choice: Sportage 2 1.7 CRDi EcoDynamics 2WD
With its head-turning concept-car looks, the Kia Sportage brings a healthy dose of glamour to the rugged crossover sector. Visual highlights include the bold grille, large swept-back headlamps and a swooping roofline. All versions get distinctive LED daytime running lights at the front, dark tinted rear windows and alloy wheels as standard. The interior is stylish and well equipped, with a dashboard that takes its cues from the Sportage’s grille. While overall quality is a step forward over the firm’s previous offerings, look closely and you’ll spot the odd piece of cheap plastic trim, but it’s not enough to detract from car’s surprisingly upmarket feel.
Given its high-riding stance, the Sportage drives incredibly well. And while the steering and body control lacks the precision and agility of the Skoda Yeti, the Sportage has plenty of grip, decent body control and a composed ride. Entry-level 1.6-litre petrol and 1.7-litre diesel engines are front-wheel drive only, while the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines benefit from an electronically controlled four-wheel drive system. The petrols are refined, but the diesels’ blend of performance and efficiency make them the most desirable options.
The Sportage secured a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, with testers reserving particular praise for the car’s side impact protection. Six airbags, ESP, ABS, hill-hold assist, active headrests and Isofix child seat anchor fixings are all fitted as standard. In terms of reliability and owner satisfaction, the Sportage finished a respectable 22nd in the 2012 Driver Power survey, while Kia finished 12th overall as a brand. It was voted 16th for build quality, which is better than many of its more expensive rivals like Audi and BMW have achieved. It also came seventh for technology, which shows that the Sportage is fitted with everything drivers hoped for. A seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty brings peace of mind - and no doubt went some way to securing such an impressive Driver Power position.
The Sportage has been designed with family buyers in mind, so it’s no surprise to find it has a spacious interior. The boxy dimensions ensure plenty of head and legroom in the rear seats. There’s also lots of useful storage space, courtesy of deep door bins and a large glovebox. Open the large tailgate and you’ll discover 564 litres of boot space, while if you fold the rear bench flat, the load area increases to 1,353 litres. This is more than the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti with the seats up, but considerably less than both with the seats folded. If you’re planning on going off road, KX models are fitted with an intelligent four-wheel-drive system that comes with an easy-to-use 4x4 lock switch to help with traction when needed. All models have a maximum unbraked towing capacity of 750kg, while its braked figure ranges from 1,200 to 2,000 depending on which model you go for.
As you’d expect from Kia, the Sportage represents excellent value for money. Competitive prices, a long list of standard equipment and the manufacturer’s trademark seven-year warranty all help to boost its considerable showroom appeal. Better still, residual values are surprisingly strong and easily match those of premium rivals such as the Land Rover Freelander. Buyers looking to minimise their running costs should pick the front-wheel-drive 1.7-litre CRDi EcoDynamics diesel with stop-start, which promises average fuel consumption of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of only 135g/km. This version also falls into insurance group 10 (or 12 if you opt for a higher trim level or the larger alloys), which should help keep premiums to a minimum.