New Kia Sportage – A Week Behind The Wheel
There’s no doubt Kia has come a long way in the last decade, thanks in no small part to producing an ever-improving range of cars, all backed by the reassurance of a 7-year warranty.
Such is the increasing popularity of the cars that the brand topped the UK sales in January, selling 10,504 units. In fact, so far this year, Kia is the UK’s best-selling car brand. Impressive stuff. One of the undoubted stars of the range has been its mid-size SUV, the Sportage, now available to buy in its all-new fifth generation form.
The UK first saw the Sportage in 1995 and it has come a long way since, the latest model being a bespoke offering, designed and developed especially for the European market. We’re a demanding lot.
Sportage is the biggest seller for the Korean brand not only in the UK, but in Europe and globally too, so its importance cannot be underestimated.
In order to cater for all needs, Kia are continuing to offer a range of diesel and petrol engines. However most interesting are the mild hybrid and full hybrid models, though a plug-in hybrid is also now available. This will be ideal for those who have access to home charging.
Five model grades are available – ‘2’, ‘GT-Line’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘GT-Line S’. All are well equipped with a rather swish twin 12.3-inch touchscreen and curved panoramic display standard on most models. Expect to find Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in all cars.
Built on Kia’s brand-new N3 architecture, the Sportage has a striking new look, especially when viewed from the front. You are unlikely to mistake the ‘tiger nose’ for anything else. I rather like it. Exterior dimensions have increased just a tad, the aim being to increase cabin space.
Four different snazzy alloy wheel designs are available and with ten exterior colours to choose from, the Sportage of your dreams is just a click of the mouse away on the online configurator.
The Sportage interior is notable for the use of quality materials, now up there with the best premium manufacturers. And yes, headroom and legroom have increased, so there’s plenty of room for four or five to travel in a good deal of comfort.
The boot is a generous 591-litres, and should you desire more load carrying capacity, lowering the 40:20:40 split rear seat in its entirety will increase this to 1,780-litres.
The new Sportage comes equipped with a raft on safety equipment, which now includes Forward Collision Avoidance Assist that is capable of sensing both pedestrians and cyclists. A good idea as recent Highway Code amendments have given both much more status on our roads.
My test car for the week was equipped with the full hybrid powertrain, which was mated to a smooth shifting automatic gearbox. It’s an easy car to drive, therefore. Push the start button, turn the rotary dial to the ‘D’ position and drive.
I am not sure anyone considering a Sportage as their next family car will be overly concerned with the car’s dynamic qualities. However, on some of the twisty sections of my favourite test route, the Sportage acquitted itself rather well. Safe and secure would best sum it up.
Ride comfort was mostly good, though occasionally the low-speed ride felt a little on the firm side, especially noticeable on sections of poor tarmac.
Motorway driving was a relaxed affair, with wind and road noise well contained and all the while I was pleasantly relaxed in the comfortable driver’s seat, a little light music emanating from the stereo. The latter was a premium Harmon Kardon unit in my test car.
The hybrid drivetrain endows the Sportage with an excellent turn of speed, especially if ‘Sport’ mode is engaged. However, doubtless of more interest, especially with this period of high fuel prices, is the car’s real-world economy.
The 400 or so miles I covered included an excellent mix of conditions and speeds and I can report that the computer never read less than 40mpg, even when driven hard on a late-night cross-country excursion. When less pressed for time, 45mpg + was more the norm.
Kia also now offers a plug-in variant, which will allow up to 48 miles of city driving on battery power alone, which will suit the urban driver down to a tee, especially if they have the ability to charge the car at home or at work.
Price for the new Sportage in top spec GT-Line S trim is from £38,645. A push upmarket, but the car is quite able to compete with the best on sale. Good quality materials and top-notch build quality see to that.
I would choose the full hybrid drivetrain, without a doubt, and then the trim that best suits your needs.
You will then have a capable family car with space aplenty for passengers and luggage, all wrapped up in a distinctive and attractive bodyshell.
And let us not forget the ownership experience, likely to be second to none. A comprehensive seven-year warranty, first rate build quality and an excellent dealer network are worthy of note.
Talk to them about the range of affordable finance and if you sign on the dotted line, I am told Kia does have a supply of new vehicles ready for UK customers. So hopefully no long wait to take delivery as is the case with so many other manufacturers, struggling with a shortage of parts.
Sportage, the fifth generation, another success story without a doubt.
Fast Facts as tested
Kia Sportage 1.6 GT-Line S HEV
Price £38,645 on the road
226bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine
1.49kWh Li-ion polymer battery
Six speed automatic transmission
0-60mph in 7.7 seconds
Top speed 120mph
Combined economy 48.7mpg
Emissions 132g/km CO2
Towing limit (braked) 1,650kg