In-depth reviews

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

Kia has made the Sportage 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 fine 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.

• Best crossovers and small SUVs

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 both the petrol and diesel models. 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.

Engines

The petrol engine lineup consists of a 1.6-litre unit, with either 130bhp or 174bhp. Front-wheel drive versions come with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the higher-powered model has four-wheel drive and is available with the manual box, or a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission (DCT).

In a drive to lower emissions and reduce fuel consumption, the 1.6-litre diesel mild hybrid has been introduced using a 48-volt lithium-ion battery to deliver 134bhp and 320Nm of torque. Its 'e-system' recovers kinetic energy during braking to provide extra torque when the driver is able to press on and accelerate. There are front-wheel drive versions with both manual and auto gearboxes, whereas the all-wheel drive model is only available with the DCT auto transmission.

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.6 GDi ISG 1 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £19,490

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 CRDi 48V ISG 1 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,560

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6T GDi ISG GT-Line 5dr DCT Auto [AWD]
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £27,875

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