Just back from the Côte d’Azur, a place that I love.
Always a vibrant location, this week, livened up by the launch of the latest from the Kia brand, the replacement of their most acclaimed and popular model the Kia Sportage… and the imminent arrival of springtime.
Kia only began car-building in 1974 and this is the fourth Sportage, the first model arriving in 1993. Since then we have always had a Sportage model in the UK and it is arguably one of the first SUVs. It has always been their best seller worldwide. The car takes about 50% of their UK sales and has clearly been the driver for Kia in Europe, as they created and built the brand’s reputation for their now loyal customers.
The last Kia Sportage has been one of the most recognisable and attractive SUVs in this fastest growing market segment. Chief design officer, the talented Peter Schreyer has transformed the Kia range and his signature ‘tiger-nose’ main grille presents a very friendly and recognisable face to the car. Markets change and now it’s a brave move for Kia to take their most successful model and change it quite so dramatically, all for the better. Better emissions, more power, improved mpg, all wrapped into an exceptionally well-priced package.
At the launch, we had three variations of the Sportage to drive. Starting with the fully loaded 2.0 litre CRDi diesel aptly named “First-Edition’ with AWD and all the extras and safety features Kia could conjure in one car.
Next we drove the ‘sporty’, Sportage GT-Line with the 1.6 T-GDi turbo petrol engine. Possibly to be the best seller for consumers without the benefit of a company car. Well specced and well priced and with the added assurance of all-wheel-drive priced at £24,350.
The last was the Kia Sportage ‘2’ 1.7 CRDi Manual; This car is likely to take the Tigers share of the sales and at just £22,050 is a pretty slick offering.
On the road in the New Sportage. It is clearly up there with the best of the best. Kia’s successful methods of improving their quality are paying dividends for the customer. The extra power, always welcome and balanced with improved emissions and mpg. The added refinements in the Sportage are aided all round by enhancements made in structural strength, now 39% lighter and significant reductions in NVH, (noise vibration and harshness).
The new model is just as characterful as the model it replaces. Overall it is more sporty and athletic, for some maybe not quite as pretty as before, but still more than charming with a memorable character making it a bold new contender for an SUV.
On the premium models there are rather smart new bi-xenon headlights, combined with the ice cube foglights, rather cool: ) The recognisable black and silver alloys, shiny brightwork, black tiger grille, the sleek and raked look and at the rear the slick LED rear lamps completing the look.
Although the new car is 40mm longer than before, it adds up to more legroom, a bigger boot and increased headroom. One of the most significant improvements to the All-New Sportage is the interior, getting comfy ‘dans la Sportage’ is easy and the commanding position makes driving a relaxed process. The overall appearance of the dash is well thought out and the sound system and 8″ touchscreen, NAV and connectivity are very intuitive to learn and use. Kia offers four levels of trim, but the top of the line models can get a bit pricey.
It is hard not to forget these cars all include Kia’s industry leading seven-year warranty. If you buy and sell your car every three years, you would still have more than a standard manufacturers warranty to transfer to a new owner. On the smart deals on offer right now, there is even the bonus of three years free servicing.
From all angles, the All-New Kia Sportage has been blended into a bigger and better car. The diesel models will be the bestseller, sooth sayers claim the RV value on this car will be 47.73% after three years, higher than many of their competitors. For me, the smart GT-line with the 1.6 petrol was the favourite on the day. Choose wisely.
2016 All-New Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6 T-GDi MT6
PROS AND CONS: Attractive √ Well-priced √ 7-year warranty √ Large choice of models √ Some safety aids only on higher spec X
FAST FACTS: Max speed: 126 mph, 0-62 mph: 9.2 secs, Combined mpg: 37.2
Engine layout: 1591 cc, 4 cylinder, turbocharged direct fuel injection, Maximum power 174bhp@5500rpm, Maximum torque 265Nm@1500-4500rpm, CO2 177 g/km
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