Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi First Edition

Kia has designs on the crossover class with its new Sportage. We drive it in the UK to see how it shapes up against the Nissan Qashqai

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4.0 out of 5

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Kia’s new Sportage is an impressive machine that sets a new quality standard for the Korean firm. It looks great and feels like a premium product, while the First Edition model is loaded with standard kit. Front-wheel-drive versions, as well as smaller petrol and diesel models with stop-start, will only serve to make the Sportage an even stronger contender in the crossover class.

Kia's stylish new Sportage is set to go head-to-head with Nissan’s Qashqai. Following on from our test of a Korean version, Auto Express got the chance to test a UK-spec car.

While the full range arrives in the UK in November, Kia has started right-hand-drive production early, and from the beginning of August, 800 First Edition models go on sale to mark the new car’s debut. We took a test drive in the limited run machine to find out what buyers can expect.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Kia Sportage

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One thing that immediately strikes you is how radical it looks. Kia is keen to emphasise that it’s a crossover first and foremost, so gone are the boxy utilitarian lines of its compact SUV predecessor, replaced by a swooping, uncluttered shape.

Neat details such as the sharp light clusters, gaping grille and smooth tailgate help the newcomer stand out. First Edition models come with standard LED running lights, while our car was finished in vivid Techno Orange, creating even more impact.

Climb aboard, and it’s clear that the focus is on quality. The doors close with a solid thud, while the neat dashboard has subtle gloss black trim, white and red backlit displays and a simple, attractive layout.

Space is generous, and while the narrow window line looks good from the outside, it doesn’t make the cabin feel claustrophobic. The First Edition isn’t left wanting for kit, as leather, cruise control, a reversing camera and heated seats front and rear are all standard. In fact, the only option is whether to pick from manual or auto gearboxes.

Our car came with the former, and all First Edition models have a 2.0-litre CRDi diesel with improved power and lower emissions, and an all-new intelligent four-wheel-drive system. Most of the time, the transmission drives the front wheels only, but up to 40 per cent of power can be directed to the rear wheels in slippery conditions.

The Sportage has been designed with UK roads in mind, and it proves comfortable and refined, although the suspension can fidget on rougher tarmac. A tall driving position gives a great view out, but that stylish rear end means visibility out the back is spoilt.

There’s plenty of power from the 2.0-litre diesel, while the six-speed gearbox has a positive shift. Steering is responsive, if a little lifeless, and the Sportage doesn’t suffer too badly from body roll in corners. However, it can’t quite match the Ford Kuga for sharp handling.

Overall, though, the new Sportage sets a new level of quality and design that Kia is aiming to maintain with its next generation of models.

Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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