Our 12 months with the Kia Sportage have come to an end, so it’s time to wave goodbye to the stylish crossover. And it’s back to the bike for me...
In reality, I usually complete my commute to the Auto Express office on two wheels, and my time in the saddle has given me an even greater appreciation of the Kia. Why?
Well, as someone accustomed to negotiating queues of black cabs and buses as they belch out clouds of smoke waiting for the lights to change, the Sportage has been something of a revelation.
Our 1.7 CRDi EcoDynamics model is fitted with stop-start technology, which makes it kinder to the environment and more pleasant to sit in. I’ve only been looking after the Kia for the past couple of months, but the last car to grace the Burnay driveway didn’t have stop-start, and the benefits are obvious.
Within a few days of taking the keys, the thought of sitting in stationary traffic with the engine running seemed completely ridiculous. Not only is the cabin quieter with the engine switched off, but the reduced fuel consumption means you’re saving money and creating less pollution, too. In short, it’s a win, win situation.
I did encounter a few teething problems, though: the first time I drove the Sportage, I was worried that I had stalled the car... and I regularly hear a little voice from the back seat asking: ‘Why have we stopped?’ when my two young daughters are in tow.
To be fair, the system works incredibly smoothly and quickly, giving you plenty of time to pull away without holding up the traffic. It doesn’t work when the engine is cold or when the outside temperature is very low, but all systems are like that.
Of course, there’s more to the Kia than its stop-start system, and I can only echo the praise that has been lavished on it by the rest of the Auto Express team. Its smart looks generate plenty of interest, its interior is stylish and well equipped, and it drives well, too. Fuel economy has been good, hitting an overall average of 39.6mpg in the hands of myself and staff photographer Pete Gibson, who is responsible for most of the 30,535 miles showing on the odometer.
Kia’s aftersales back-up has always been a huge selling point, and we’ve even had a chance to put this to the test. First, Pete had an entire set of new alloy wheels fitted under warranty without fuss, after corrosion was spotted on each of the stylish rims.
More recently I took the Kia to my local dealer, Humming Bird Motors in north London, as the driver’s side front window was making a rubbing noise whenever I lowered it. The car was seen at two days’ notice and I even got a useful reminder of its booking by text the night before. I dropped it off on the way to work, and collected it at the end of the day with the problem fixed. And the Kia’s spacious boot easily accommodated my fold-up bike with room to spare, so it really couldn’t have been simpler.
After a year and more than 30,000 miles, the big question any private buyer will have is: ‘How much is it worth?’. Well, despite our car’s higher than average mileage, Glass’s Guide suggests a trade-in value of £16,025. And an example with only 14,000 miles on the clock (average for its age) would be worth an extra two grand in part exchange, which is pretty good.
Last year Auto Express’s sister title CarBuyer.co.uk awarded the Sportage its Car of the Year title – and after this experience it’s easy to see why.
“The styling is spot-on, and the rest of the package won’t disappoint. If we could make improvements, we’d like to see sharper handling and slightly more performance, but that’s it.”
Graham Hope, Deputy editor
“Great car. Really pleased with it. We have the 2.0 CDRi 4x4 First Edition. No complaints, apart from corroding alloys. But we’re still waiting to hear about replacements from Kia.”