Kia Sportage 2006 - long term test
Road-works and potholes are an ever-present nuisance, so thank goodness our Sportage can cut through the distractions with relative ease
The chunky 4x4 has coped with everything thrown at it during my two-hour, 20-mile commute. Roadworks often appear overnight, so nippy steering and keen acceleration help navigate the tailbacks.
The short first gear means a hasty switch to second when pulling into heavy traffic, but a sixth ratio lets you zip along motorways with minimum engine intrusion. However, wind noise increases with speed, possibly due to the bulbous body panels which lend the Kia a Tonka Toy appearance.
Off-roading has been limited to wet farm tracks during family bike rides. Nothing too taxing; press the 4WD button and rutted verges get the same treatment as city potholes. I'm looking forward to testing the 4x4 system in winter conditions.
Generally, friends seem surprised and impressed with the cabin quality. The dash looks smart and is easy to use, while the plastic boot space and leather seats are durable and simple to clean. The only really annoying thing is the stereo. It looks cheap and, as we've reported before, the CD player jumps, especially when pulling away from a stand-still. While the suspension takes care of the worst bumps around town, the stereo highlights each one as it skips tracks. I love my music and find it infuriating when the Sportage remixes my tunes - yet so far no solution has presented itself.
The only other problem is the small dent which has mysteriously appeared on the left side of the rear bumper. The ding is small, but the way the colour-coded fender has rippled makes it appear worse than it is. It looks like someone has reversed into a bollard. I was annoyed that none of my col-leagues claimed responsibility, until I inflicted exactly the same dent on the right-hand side of the bumper. Maybe life around town is beginning to take its toll on the Sportage after all...
I took the Sportage on a weekend trip to the Lake District. Packed with four adults and a fair amount of luggage, it proved comfortable and roomy, while it easily topped 30mpg on the motorway. But, as with Darren, I found first gear runs out of steam too quickly, plus there's not much of an armrest. Also, you have to turn up the stereo to block wind noise at high speed.
Paul Slater, designer