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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi ‘3’

Click to view picture gallery“My friend has a sign by her back
  door that reads ‘Two spoiled rotten
  dogs live here’. With the never-
  ending supply of new models, SUV
  and Crossover drivers too have
  become spoilt — for choice.
  Picking the right one has never
  been trickier...”


THANKFULLY KIA BRINGS a welcome touch of sanity to the decision-making party. Its latest Sportage offers even buyers who don't have money to burn a fine family-friendly crossover from just £18,795.

Naturally it comes with the must-have tall-riding stance and ruggedly handsome SUV-esque looks fronted by a deep, upright high gloss black diamond-mesh 'tiger-nose' grille, and intriguingly curvaceous bonnet edged front and side by cut-in elongated projector headlights incorporating distinctive 'cluster' LED daytime running lights.

With deeply sculpted lower body sides punctuated by flared wheelarches, their flat-cut finish emphasised by black protective inserts, 19-inch alloys, and a rakish glasshouse that ends in a neat be-spoilered tailgate with long forward-thrusting tail lights wrapped around curved haunches, the Sportage exudes a purposeful presence — the kind that turns heads.

If your choices are
limited by a budget that
outranks your desire then
the 114bhp 1.7 diesel
with a six-speed manual
’box and two-wheel drive
in ‘3’ trim will do you
proud.
It costs £25,695
and you won’t go short
of ‘goodies’ such as an
8-inch touchscreen
infotainment with SatNav
system, heated front
and rear seats, leather
upholstery, and
a JBL premium sound
system...”
But the Sportage — Kia's best-selling model — doesn't just trade on 'the look' because if you want four-wheel drive you can have that too. However, unless you really have a need of it, the two-wheel drive versions are perfectly fit for purpose.

Under that profiled bonnet can be any one of several engines. If petrol is what floats your boat then you'll be pleased to learn that the line-up actually kicks-off with one — a 1.6-litre 130bhp GDi. Next, diesel gets a look in with 1.7 (114 or 139bhp) and 2.0-litre (134 or 182bhp) units. Then it's back to unleaded again with a turboed T-GDi that punches out 174bhp.

Most are partnered with a six-speed manual gearbox but a six-speed torque converter autobox or a dual-clutch seven-speeder automatic transmission can be had for the 2.0-litre engines. But this week it's the most popular engine that we've been driving — the 114bhp 1.7 CRDi diesel with the manual 'box that's designed to go easy on the gas, light on emissions and deliver enough in the way of performance — a mix that will suit the majority of buyers after 'the look'.

With eighteen versions to select from there's a good case for going for the '3' spec that's the third rung up the trim ladder: if your choices are limited by a budget that outranks your desire then the 114bhp 1.7 diesel unit with a six-speed manual 'box and two-wheel drive in '3' trim will do you proud. It costs £25,695 and comes with a decent amount of kit, so you won't go short of 'goodies' such as an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system, heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, and a JBL premium sound system.

All the engines in the Sportage line-up have been extensively revised, and deliver better economy and lower emissions — this 119g/km 1.7 CRDi unit, favoured by more than half of all Sportage customers, emits 16g/km less CO2 than before, a figure that helps peg running costs by keeping the first year road tax to £160. Kia's Intelligent Stop and Go stop-start system is also fitted to help maximise fuel economy — and owners will be more than pleased if they 'only' get the 47.9mpg we averaged over a hard week's driving. In reality, they will likely do better!

While you can go all the way to 182bhp and 295lb ft of torque, the 1.7's 114bhp is backed up by 206lb ft of 'pulling' power (from just 1,250rpm) — that's enough to see off the zero to 60mph time in 11.1 seconds. Top speed is 109mph. It's punchy and pulls cleanly from low revs and offers flexibility allied to decent real-world economy. On the move it always feels willing plus there's enough torque on tap to keep gearchanging to a minimum and even when you do, the change action is nicely fluent.

Extensively revised,
the 1.7 diesel comes with
Kia’s Intelligent Stop
and Go stop-start system
to help maximise fuel
economy — and owners
will be more than pleased
if they ‘only’ get the
47.9mpg we averaged
over a hard week’s
driving — in reality, they
will likely do better!”
'Room(y) with a view' is what most buyers going down the SUV/crossover road are after — and within its 4.5-metre footprint the Sportage gives them all the space they'll ever need. Getting aboard is made über-easy by front doors that open almost to right angles; the door frame is generous and, as the seat base is level with the average person's hip, sliding in is no problem at all.

Once there the sought-after high-set driving position and commanding view out over the bonnet is confirmed, making the Sportage a doddle to accurately place on the road, in traffic, or park.

The driver benefits from seat height adjustment and power-adjustable lumbar support; both front seats — well padded and upholstered in black leather with classy contrast piping — get three-stage heating. We regularly drive more than five hundred miles — sometimes in a couple of days — testing every car, so when we say the Sportage's seats are comfortable and supportive you can bet your shirt on it. Making time behind the wheel more pleasant is a palm-fitting gearknob and sporty-looking three-spoke multifunction wheel that's particularly nice to grip and use.

Even with the driver's seat cranked up there's still a full fist of headroom. Masses of knee and shin room plus footwells big enough for boot-wearers are another 'plus', as too is the large air-gap between the front seats so no chance at all of an elbow clash with your passenger; also earning a thumbs-up are the large and very easy to use backrest rotary knobs that provide smooth and stepless adjustment.

One of the first things prospective buyers check out is a car's Comms — and the Sportage passes the test. While a few grades short of flagship status it still boasts an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment and SatNav system (including European mapping — you'll likely still need it post-Brexit) with a reversing camera, and features Kia's Connected Services with TomTom for traffic updates, speed camera warnings, local Google search and weather reports.

Screen graphics are sharp and it responds quickly to finger contact; 'hard' shortcut buttons jump you directly into various core menus, and even the dual-zone climate system has a dedicated button that shows all the heating and ventilation settings full-screen, giving you the choice of adjusting them manually or just using your index finger.

Room(y) with a view
is what most buyers
going down the
SUV/crossover road are
after — and within
its 4.5-metre footprint
the Sportage gives them
all the space they’ll
ever need...”
Additionally there's Bluetooth for handsfree phone-calls with voice recognition and music streaming, a DAB radio, USB and Aux ports, and JBL eight-speaker premium sound system with sub-woofer, external amp and front centre speaker. The SatNav mapping is 3D and, along with dependable spoken directions, detailed visuals are shown at crucial points both on general roads and on motorways, so you'll always be in the right place at the right time.

The dash is cleanly laid out and well spaced; the standout air vents on the fascia feature quality satin-chrome detailing on their well-damped roller wheel adjusters, there's fine filleting to the switchgear and high gloss finishing around the cabin, all of it smart but not showy.

The instrument panel houses a 4.2 inch multifunction colour driver's information display bracketed by two main dials for revs and speed. Shown on the screen is regular trip data, visual navigational prompts, media information, and tyre pressures. There's also a large digital speed readout alongside a graphic of the posted speed limit which is repeated, but larger, on the side of the mapping nearest to the driver. So, no excuse for exceeding the limit!

In-cabin storage is excellent, starting with the good-sized lit, lined, lockable and cooled glovebox; door pockets hold one litre bottles, large cupholders are within easy reach and there's a large open tray ahead of the gearlever with two 12v sockets and the USB and Aux ports, and a big cubby beneath the sliding centre armrest.

Kit that we haven't mentioned elsewhere includes all-round power windows, auto-dimming rearview mirror, powerfolding heated door mirrors (on demand and auto on leaving), cruise control with speed limiter, privacy glass (rear windows and tailgate), rear parking sensors, and roof rails.

You’LL forget about the
Sportage’s high-riding
stance quickly enough
when you’re driving
it because body lean is
neatly checked,
it feels light on its feet,
gripping well through
the twisties, and the
improved steering is
accurate and sharp...”
Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management helps keep the Sportage shipshape during hard cornering and in slippery road conditions, while Downhill Brake Control gets you safely to the bottom when descending steep off-road inclines. Hill-start Assist, Emergency Stop Signalling, and a roll-over sensor are all fitted, plus there's Trailer Stability Assist to prevent a caravan or trailer snaking in crosswinds or if the driver is going too fast.

There's also active Lane Keep Assist and High Beam Assist (this works particularly well compared to some, switching quickly between dip and main beam before oncoming drivers can be dazzled). The Sportage also comes with a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating, six airbags, auto lights and wipes, front wiper de-icer, cornering lights, tyre pressure monitoring, and automatic drive-away door locking.

You'll forget about the Sportage's high-riding stance quickly enough when you're driving it because body lean is neatly checked and it feels light on its feet, gripping well through the twisties, and the improved steering is accurate and sharp. The Sportage is fitted with Kia's latest Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering; with R-MDPS the electric motor which controls the steering is mounted directly to the steering rack so there's better feel and sharper responses. Added to that is a stiffer bodyshell and a suspension makeover.

You don't need to drive this latest Sportage far to appreciate that its upped its game, bringing a keener edge to its handling balance that lets it be confidently easygoing if you're pootling about but purposeful when you need to make up time.

Also high on crossover-buyers' lists is comfort. The Sportage ticks these boxes too, soaking up most of the worst irregularities without disturbing the passengers. As you'd expect, the 19-inch wheels do add a tad more firmness but it's still a supple ride and the Sportage is one of the best 'riders' in its class.

The second-row is where it all happens for families and the Sportage does a great job of comfortably accommodating any combination of adults and youngsters. For the young 'uns there are Isofix child seat fixtures — and plenty of room to get them in and belted up thanks to wide-opening doors. And even if they fidget, the front seatbacks are far enough away for them not to be kicked.

Best of all is the
panoramic glass sunroof
that stretches almost to
the rear headrests and
not only floods the cabin
with light but provides
more interesting high-
level views out for
passengers if they want
a change from the
widescreen street level
views that the very long
side windows provide,
or the wide-angle views
forward through the
large gap between
the front backrests...”
Grown-ups fare even better with a fist of headroom, and whereas many rivals only provide a fixed seatback angle, the Sportage's rear passengers get well-padded 60:40-split heated seats that recline to a seriously laid-back 45-degrees. Passengers can also stretch their legs right out and, if they like, even wiggle their toes! For the record, three travelling side-by-side is very doable.

Wide, padded outer armrests are complemented by a fold-down centre armrest with a pair of built-in cupholders, the door pockets hold small bottles, and there are stretchy net pouches on both front seatbacks, second-row air vents, and a 12v socket plus a USB charging point.

Best of all is the panoramic glass sunroof that stretches almost to the rear headrests and not only floods the cabin with light but provides more interesting high-level views out for passengers if they want a change from the widescreen street level views that the very long side windows provide, or the wide-angle views forward through the large gap between the front backrests.

If you like fresh air then you'll be pleased to hear that the large front section tilts and slides back past the front headrests. Overall, the sense of space makes the Sportage's cabin feel even bigger than that of some full-size, and much more expensive, SUVs.

When it comes to a boot the Sportage offers up 491 litres with the rear seats in use. Pull the lever at the side of each rear seat and it folds down fast and flat and locks in place creating a 1,480-litre loadbay with a flat and seamless, full-length floor. Hassle-free loading is guaranteed by the large tailgate opening; and there's no sill to lift stuff over.

The multi-adjustable 60:40-split rear seatbacks don't just offer laid-back reclining up to almost 45-degrees, but can be adjusted to provide a little extra boot space for luggage when the rear seats are occupied.

Need to carry child buggies or golf clubs? No problem; the Sportage eats them for breakfast. More good news — you'll find a dedicated slot beneath the two-level boot floor for the luggage roller blind cassette along with extra oddments room around the space-saver spare wheel. This 1.7 unit can pull a 1,400kg braked trailer but those serious about towing will want the 2.0-litre diesel — with a manual gearbox it can pull a braked 2,200kg.

Go drive a Sportage and then consider this: it outsells the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Ford Kuga. You won't need telling that it's not just down to the price. And with space to ferry a family and its baggage around in comfort, this handsome and well-kitted-out Sportage has reaffirmed its high ranking in the family crossover class. And don't forget Kia's peace-of-mind seven-year warranty — something not one of its rivals comes close to matching. ~ MotorBar
.
Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi '3' | £25,695
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-60mph: 11.1 seconds | Test Average: 47.9mpg
Power: 114bhp | Torque: 206lb ft | CO2: 119g/km

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