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Kia Sportage (2010-2016): long term test

Dealer service has really impressed after wheel problem on crossover

  • Is our long-term Kia the perfect car for hot climates? I think it might be! Thanks to the reflective white paint and tinted side windows, the cabin stays cool for a long time when the car is parked in the summer sun. The narrow glass area helps here, and means the Sportage is ideal for family drivers – with no complaints from children getting grizzly in the heat.
  • But while the interior stays cool and offers plenty of space, visibility for the driver could be better. The wide A-pillars create substantial blindspots. These are especially noticeable as you approach roundabouts. You soon get used to this, and adapt to make your observations earlier than you otherwise would, but I really notice the difference when climbing aboard the Kia after driving another car.
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I've just taken delivery of a new set of wheels... but my car hasn’t changed a jot! 

The striking alloys fitted to our long-term Kia Sportage are part and parcel of its head-turning looks. Designers always draw cars with huge wheels on their sketchpads, but they normally get cut from production models due to cost or dynamic compromises. 

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Thankfully, Kia stuck to its guns with the Sportage crossover, and it looks great as a result. As you can imagine, I’ve been paranoid about kerbing the  striking two-tone rims, since their polished metal finish is hard to repair. I’ve given pavements a wide berth ever since taking delivery in January, but my hard work has all been to no avail. Why?

Close inspection of the alloys during a recent car wash revealed white pitting around the edge of the wheel face – a sure sign that the lacquer had lifted and that water was corroding the metal beneath. It was barely visible, but was only going to get worse.

When the car was booked in for its first service at Westdrive Kia in Braintree, Essex, I asked the technician to have a look – more out of hope than expectation. He photographed the wheels and told me he’d be in touch over whether they’d be replaced under the firm’s seven-year warranty. Having paid the £209 bill for the 20,000-mile check-up, all I had to do was wait.

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The whole service experience had left me really impressed. As usual, I left it to the last minute to make a booking, but the garage was able to fit me in at really short notice, which was a welcome surprise. And the staff were polite, as well as flexible.

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Then, a few weeks after my visit, I received a call to say a new set of rims had been given the green light. I arranged an appointment to have them changed over – only two days later – and the whole job took about an hour. The Sportage was looking as good as new. All four alloys had been swapped without any fuss or cost. 

We often rave about the seven-year warranty included on all new Kias, but it’s great to witness its operation first-hand. Nothing was too much trouble for the garage staff, and the whole process was completed efficiently. There’s no word on a potential cause for the wheel pitting, but I suspect the salty winter roads earlier this year played a part. 

Normally, a trip to the garage for warranty work would go down as a black mark against a new car, but this whole episode has only served to strengthen my faith in the Korean brand. After all, it’s not so much faulty cars that annoy motorists, but how these problems are dealt with by the manufacturer involved, and how quickly and easily they’re resolved. I’m pleased to report that Kia has passed this test with flying colours.

There’s one thing that my gleaming new alloys haven’t be able to fix, though, and that’s the anxiety I experience every time I have to park against the kerb...

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