Kias are getting seriously cool. Anybody who still – for reason of prejudice – instinctively doubts or automatically disbelieves that proposition should check out the new Sportage.
Neil Lyndon spends the week in style with the Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDI ‘2’ Eco
Prices are up (ranging from £18,565-£32,195 – which is effectively Ford/VW territory), but so is quality and desirability. Thus Kia are sure-footedly treading the commercial path that Skoda mapped out in the 1990s and 2000s.
It goes like this: first start with irresistibly cheap prices and bomb-proof build quality; then add value with aesthetic edge and interest; finally start pushing up the prices and raking in the profits. The new Sportage persuasively embodies the full strategy.
The Sportage which Kia introduced in 2010 was the car with which Peter Schreyer – the company’s starrily-talented head of design, then recently appointed – announced to the world that Kias would no longer be merely cheap and reliable but would also turn heads for its stylishness at the school gate and the supermarket carpark.
That Sportage was unquestionably good value, well-made (with a seven-year warranty) and, with a chunky outline and a sturdy stance, the best-looking compact crossover SUV of its time. One thing it didn’t offer, however, was much to write home about in the driving dynamics department.
Now the new Sportage takes all of those familiar ingredients – along with an even cooler, edgier, more fashionable appearance – and adds a measure of genuine driving pleasure. At the same time you may find that a significant hole has appeared in your bank account.
The chassis is high-riding, but firm dampers and suspension settings make this car far more pointable than rivals like the Qashqai or Kadjar. Low-speed steering can be laborious, but the system eases up sweetly with more speed and remains sharp. Grip would presumably be enhanced by the all-wheel-drive system available on some models which supplies up to 40% of power to the rear wheels when needed. Nobody would call the end product “chuckable”, but it’s a more engaging drive than most competitors.
Our two-wheel-drive 1.7 CRDI ‘2’ Eco test car with six-speed manual gearbox was supposed to deliver more than 60 mpg but barely eked out 50 mpg despite making a lot of racket about the performance and returning unexciting figures for acceleration and top speed. The two-litre 2.0 CRDi GT version, with all-wheel drive, would undoubtedly be a more invigorating option at marginally increased operating costs.
As an adaption on the successful seven-seat formula of the larger Sorento, the Sportage embodies a fine combination of seating flexibility with stylish interior accommodation, more rear legroom and a bigger loadspace than the outgoing model.
What’s not to like? Only perhaps that peculiar feeling of lightness around the area where you normally carry your wallet.
Car reviewed: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDI ‘2’ Eco – On the road £22,050 0-62mph 11.1 secs Top speed 109mph limited Fuel Economy combined 61.4mpg CO2 emissions 119g/km Engine 1685cc 4-cylinder diesel Max Power [email protected] Torque 280lb [email protected] Transmission 6-speed manual
Smart, well specced and stylish
A pleasure to drive
Kia's 7 year warranty
Choose wisely, can get pricey