Kia Sportage review - Engines, performance and drive
Thanks to sharp steering, the Sportage drives well and hides its high stance with good composure in the bends
The engine might have been carried over, but on top of the new look, the fourth-generation Sportage also has a new platform - shared with sister car the Hyundai Tucson. The Sportage is good to drive, with lots of grip through corners and suspension which smooths out the worst bumps well. Yes, there is a fair amount of body roll, but the car never feels cumbersome and is a big improvement on its predecessor overall. Wind noise around the door mirrors is quite audible at motorway speeds, but otherwise the Sportage is a very relaxing long-distance cruiser.
The good chassis is mated to accurate sharp steering, that’s fairly light during parking and low speed driving. It also has enough feedback to allow you to feel the road surface through the steering wheel, which helps when judging cornering speeds and placing the car on the road. It’s a massive enhancement over the third-gen Sportage, but the Mazda CX-5 is still a little more fun on twisty roads.
A high-set driving position and decent forward visibility make the Sportage very easy to drive around town. The small windows and thick roof pillars do spoil all-round visibility a little, especially at the rear, but that isn’t a huge criticism.
For those venturing off-road, all-wheel drive is available on all but the 130bhp petrol and the 114bhp diesel. In most situations, it sends all its power to the front wheels to save fuel, but it can send up to 40 per cent of its power to the rear should the front wheels lose grip. There's also a lock mode to keep all four wheels turning if necessary.
The engine lineup for 2018 Sportage receives a fairly substantial overhaul. The petrol engine lineup keeps two versions of 1.6-litre petrol (one with a turbo, one without), but both have gained a particulate filter to reduce emissions. The old 1.7-litre diesel has been ditched in favour of a smooth, refined 1.6 with a choice of 114bhp or 134bhp. The top of the range diesel model gains the most interesting upgrade in the form of mild hybrid technology.
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The 1.6 GDI petrol has 130bhp, and while it feels fairly lively at low speeds, it becomes a bit breathless on the motorway when overtaking.
The turbocharged version is offered with all but the entry level trim, and a choice of front or all-wheel drive. Figures of 174bhp and 265Nm of torque, look good on paper, but it’s not quite as punchy as we would expect. It’s also not terribly efficient with the six-speed manual version returning, at best, a claimed 34.9mpg on the WLTP based combined cycle and emitting 184g/km of CO2.
For the best all-round flexibility and blend of performance and efficiency, the diesels are the better options. With 114bhp, the 1.6-litre CRDi diesel looks underpowered compared with the 1.6 petrol but its pulling power is much stronger and consequently it feels more sprightly, and things improve further with the 134bhp version. They’re a better option than the petrol for motorway runs too because they use less fuel.
The range is topped out by the 2.0-litre mild hybrid. This pairs the diesel engine with a 48 volt electrical system that drives a starter generator and a lithium ion battery. The battery stores energy that is recouped while coasting and braking, and can then deploy this when accelerating. The extra 16bhp or so reduces load on the engine which helps to save fuel, as does its ability to cut the engine below 10mph to allow fuel-free coasting up to traffic lights and junctions. Refinement is excellent, and because the electrical assistance means that the engine needs to stretch itself less often, it’s quieter more of the time.
In this review
- 1Kia Sportage reviewThe well-equipped and stylish Kia Sportage is a solid all-rounder
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThanks to sharp steering, the Sportage drives well and hides its high stance with good composure in the bends
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsSportage ranks as average for running costs and is predicted to hold its value well
- 4Interior, design and technologyBold exterior styling is complimented by a spacious, well-made cabin with one of the best infotainment setups in the segment
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceSpacious interior and decent boot make Sportage a good choice for families
- 6Reliability and SafetySafety kit is good and the seven-year warranty is class-leading