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Kia Sportage review (2010 onwards)
What - Kia Sportage
Where - Zilina, Slovakia
Date - November 2010
Price - £16,645-£26,170
Available - Now
Key rivals -Hyundai ix35, Ford Kuga, Mini Countryman, Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX, Skoda Yeti, Peugeot 3008
Gallery: Kia Sportage
Read another Kia review on MSN Cars
Summary - Kia gets funky with the dramatically styled new Sportage, all-new petrol and diesel engines bringing further appeal
We like - Sharp looks, expanded engine range, frugal new 1.7-litre diesel, good value, seven-year warranty
We don't like - Plasticky in places inside, fit and finish not perfect, visibility, ride on 18-inch wheels
The Sportage we drove in our initial first drive story predated the pre-launch 'First Edition' model based on the 2.0-litre CRDi diesel and fully decked out with all the trimmings. Sales started in August and it was a sell-out success.
The full 16-model range is now on sale. Graded simply 1, 2 and 3 it starts at just £16,645 and now features a 1.6-litre GDI direct-injection petrol and 1.7-litre CRDi diesel in addition to the already announced 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models.
The 1.6 and 1.7-litre Sportages are two-wheel drive, the 2.0-litre versions four-wheel drive with manual or automatic transmissions, a line-up more or less mirrored on the Hyundai ix35 with which the Kia shares its underpinnings.
The Hyundai is, like for like, slightly cheaper but the Sportage is better looking. Indeed, the Kia's styling is a major selling point, the sharp lines and Land Rover Evoque-esque stance fresh and modern enough to make the Qashqai and others look dowdy.
Kia's new direct-injection 1.6-litre petrol engine is very much up there with the best of the competition, its 133hp outgunning comparable 1.6s in the Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi ASX, Peugeot 3008 and others to the tune of 10% or so.
It does have its work cut out though, the 1,380kg kerb weight meaning all Sportages are in the 10-11 seconds range 0-62mph. Interestingly the 1.6 isn't far behind the petrol 2.0-litre, the latter slowed by the extra weight of its four-wheel-drive chassis.
Demonstrating how 0-62 times and spec sheet comparisons are only half the story the 1.7 diesel feels a whole lot more sprightly and engaging. And not far off the petrol in terms of refinement either.
It punches hard too, the 114hp and 192lb ft of torque beating the 1.8-litre diesel ASX and even the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel in the Skoda Yeti. If you don't need four-wheel drive (you likely don't) this is probably the pick of the range.
Ride and handling
As we reported in our initial first drive, Kia has done a lot of chassis work on UK roads and it shows, the Sportage well up to dealing with the potholes and speedbumps you'll encounter on a typical school run.
Unless, that is, you go for the 3 spec, the kerb hungry 18-inch wheels bringing an unwelcome brittleness to the ride quality. Other than that the Sportage is a keen if not especially exciting drive with no obvious bad habits or foibles.
The cabin design can't quite match the excitement of the exterior but it's still pretty stylish. There are some cheap finishing touches though and the odd inconsistency in fit that, though purely cosmetic, could do with being better.
Equipment is good though, entry 1 spec getting leather contact points, Bluetooth, a proper iPod cable and cruise while 2 gets 17-inch wheels a panoramic roof and much needed parking sensors. 3 has climate, xenons and optional, crisp LCD-screened navigation.
Economy and safety
The new engines impress with their emissions - 149g/km for the 1.6 petrol and 135g/km for the 1.7 diesel - and official mpg figures of 44.1mpg and 54.3mpg respectively. Impressively the diesel easily achieved mid-50s mpg on a mixed run, both engines featuring start-stop.
The option of four-wheel-drive security is there with the 2.0-litre models, at a cost in terms of emissions and fuel consumption. Either way, all Sportages get standard stability control with hill descent, hill-start assist and a roll-over detection system.
The MSN Cars verdict ****
Like sister brand Hyundai, Kia has been working very hard indeed to shake the reputation of Korean cars as merely budget buys with long warranties. And yes, the Sportage has that incredible seven-year peace of mind.
But even without that it's a hugely appealing car in its own right and, on style alone, right at the top of the class. The new engines add substance and the generous spec further appeal. A few detail niggles aside we like the Sportage. A lot.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||1.6-litre and 2.0-litre 4-cyl|
|Engines, diesel||1.7-litre and 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbocharged|
|Torque, lb ft||122-236|
|0-62 mph, secs||11.9-10.3|
|Top speed, mph||107-112|
|CO2, tax||135g/km-195g/km, 18%-27%|
|Ride & handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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