The Sportage does exactly what it says on the tin...
Need a hard-working 4x4 with a punchy diesel? How about a great-value off-roader boasting individual styling? Or maybe you want to take your kids for countryside bike rides? Well, the Sportage is the answer. It “does exactly what it says on the tin”, and although the slogan may come from an irritating paint advert, it sums up LB55 ZZA perfectly.
As far as I am concerned, the interior is comfortable and good looking. And while some colleagues have questioned the handling, suggesting it doesn’t match that of rivals, I’ve found the Kia to be more than capable of handling speed bumps and potholes during the week, and motorways and country lanes at the weekend.
My previous long-term car was a Toyota Corolla Verso, and I still miss its versatile seating, but the Sportage’s 2.0-litre diesel engine and six gears more than make up for it. Motorway journeys used to be a noisy affair in the 1.8-litre petrol MPV – but not any more. The SUV’s extra ratio means you can cruise along at high speed with very little noise from the motor, and the lofty seating position makes you feel like you’re flying! Our car has cruise control, and although I tested it on a recent late-night journey, I didn’t use it for long... as falling asleep at the wheel was a distinct possibility.
The rear is spacious for my two children, and the back seats fold down easily to create a size-able load area that’s ideal for a couple of bikes or a week’s worth of bottles for the recycling centre. I really like the durable, wipe-clean plastic on the back of the rear chairs – good thinking, and a godsend after a muddy family countryside cycle.
My only major dislike is the compass which is set into the rear view mirror. It’s a simple black panel, but I find it distracting and, when I check to see what’s behind me, my eyes are drawn to the compass, not the road. That aside, I’m finding the Sportage copes with my mix of urban and country motoring very well indeed.
The Sportage might not be Kia’s biggest 4x4, but it certainly looks the part – and it boasts plenty of chunky handles for passengers to hold on to inside should the going get tough. I also rate the firm’s diesel engine more highly than I expected to. It is surprisingly responsive, and just the sort of frugal unit you want in a compact off-roader. Gary Lord, production editor