Kia Sportage: First Report

Class-leading seven-year warranty is only the start, as the more we drive Korean crossover, the more we fall for it...

Why has our new Kia Sportage put me in seventh heaven? Well, with its incredible seven-year warranty, the Korean crossover promises to deliver an incredible 84 months of trouble-free motoring bliss - and if you’re sinking your own hard-earned cash into a car, that’s sure to make you happy.  Of course, that’s not the only reason the rugged newcomer has left a big smile on my face.

Look past the industry leading after sales package and you’ll find stunning concept car looks, composed driving dynamics and luxury car-rivalling levels of standard kit. All of which help the Sportage appeal to the heart as well as the head - and that’s the first time I’ve been able to say that about a Kia!

Sadly I haven’t had much time to stand and admire the SUV’s eye-catching looks, because I’ve spent most of the time sitting behind the wheel. In the month or so since it arrived in our car park the Sportage has racked up 7,558 miles, which includes two trips from London to Crewe, Cheshire for our spectacular Bentley supplement (Issue 1,153). As a result, I’ve been able to appreciate the spacious cabin’s solid build and logical layout, while the standard fit sat-nav has proved indispensable as I’ve criss crossed the country from one photo location to the next. Fortunately the Kia is a cosseting long distance companion, thanks mainly to its great driving position and excellent refinement.

Neat touched include the excellent connection for an iPod and the steering wheel-mounted cruise control buttons - both of which help take the strain out of long motorway journeys. Only the new 1.7-litre diesel engine gave me cause for concern at first, because it felt a little lethargic on the open road.

Happily, the start/stop equipped oil-burner soon loosened up, and now the smooth unit feels remarkably punchy given it delivers only 114bhp. Better still, it has returned a respectable 40.1mpg at the pumps.

The Kia’s practicality has also impressed. As staff photographer I rarely travel light, yet the Sportage’s 564-litre boot has swallowed all my bulky kit. However, as with my old Skoda Yeti, some of the plastics in the load bay scratch easily. I’m hoping a few carefully placed strips of gaffer tape will prevent any further damage.

So far so good, then. The big question is whether I’ll feel the same way after a spending a year with the Sportage. After all, what good is a seven-year warranty if you can’t bear to live with a car with a car for more than seven months. The initial signs are very positive and, more importantly, since the Kia arrived I haven’t once missed the Yeti. Praise doesn’t come much higher than that.

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