The new Kia Sportage… never ceases to amaze
The fourth-gen Sportage takes these major strengths forward and enhances them, propelling the car towards the peak of the compact SUV sector.
It’s a competitor for the Ford Kuga, the Mazda CX-5 and the Nissan Qashqai. It also steals the thunder from its cousin – Hyundai’s Tucson.
Indeed, the Sportage is rated as one of the better-built motors in its segment, and while it may fall behind Mazda’s CX-5 for room, the Kia is still one of the most capacious compact SUVs.
It trails the Kuga for handling – and the Mazda – but the Korean machine is in no way dull to drive. Its fast steering, pliable ride and civilised body control means the Sportage is one of the finest all-rounders.
The current Sportage, ushered in during 2016, is offered, as before, as a five-door hatchback, and comes with a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive set-up. There are a couple of petrols and four diesels to choose from, and you can select manual or automatic gearboxes.
The two-wheel-drive Sportage is available in a variety of trim levels, ranging from 1 through to 4. The 4×4 variant is labelled KX-1 to KX-4 so it’s easy to see which model has four-wheel-drive and which doesn’t. At the pinnacle of the Sportage line-up is the athletic GT Line, which has fog-lights reminiscent of ice-cubes, a black hide interior and 19-inch alloy wheels. The 1.6 T-GDi and 2.0 diesel GT-Lines are also fitted with four-wheel-drive.
I tested the Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi six-speed manual in two-wheel-drive. With 114PS, a combined mpg of 61.4 and a maximum speed of 109mph, the car is an attractive proposition. What’s more, it will do 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds.
The Kia Sportage is decent to drive, with lots of traction through bends and the suspension irons out road imperfections impressively. Body roll does happen in corners, but the SUV never feels unwieldly and is a major improvement on the third-generation model.
Practicality-wise, you can get three adults into the rear seats. Legroom is excellent, as is headroom, and the back seats even recline – adding an extra dose of comfort. At 503-litres, the Sportage’s boot is only average for the segment. That said, it’s a decent square shape, and you can easily load a tot’s pushchair and other bulky items into it, thanks to a low load lip.
Euro NCAP has crash-tested the Kia Sportage and awarded it the top five-star safety score. The Sportage was applauded for being able to protect occupants of all sizes in the front and rear seats. It was also praised for its excellent side-on impact protection.