Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3 Sat-Nav20 | 10 | 2010Scotcars rating

    New Sportage pushes Kia further up the rankings as it targets bigger crossover share

    IT PROBABLY won't have escaped you notice that Kia has launched a replacement for its Sportage SUV-hatchback crossover. The previous Sportage was one of the cars which helped propel Kia into a strong position in the Scottish market and the newcomer looks like not only reaffirming its position, but taking the dealeship network to new levels.

    The new range offers a comprehensive selection of both four-wheel-drive and, more politically-acceptable two-wheel-drive models. Just miles from Slovakia's border with Poland, I flew to Kia's production plant at Zilina to see the car being built, and to put it through its paces.

    The new Kia Sportage is the Korean manufacturer's first to have been designed rom a blank screen onwards by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer and his own team. And Schreyer signature lines and looks are instantly obvious. The new Sportage is something of a headturner.

    Without question the most dynamic and successful aspect of the styling is the ‘tiger’s nose’ front end, which was first seen on the 2007 Kee concept car. In the test car's 'Ice White' colour, the sharp headlight design sat well with the big SUV shape. It's chunky and hunky, and just looks the business without being overpowering.

    At the rear-end, the look isn't quite so dramatic, but it works well and sits comfortably with the car's overall appearance. Cleverly, the narrow, raked-back rear screen is set very high so it doesn’t hinder the practicality which is delivered by the deep, vertical tailgate.

    Having been initially launched by the 'First Edition', a 2.0 diesel-based variant which was fully loaded with kit, the new Sportage is now available in its full complement of 16 models.

    There's four engine. In addition to the 2.0-litre diesel, there are 1.6 and 2.0 petrols, and the new 1.7 turbodiesel, available only in two-wheel-drive guise and with a six-speed manual gearbox, I drove in Slovakia

    This smaller diesel is available in four spec trims. The entry-level spec, 1 — yes, Kia uses numerical identities — comes with smallish 16in wheels, but you still get air-con, Bluetooth, electric windows all round and LED daytime running lights. They're actually pretty cool and make the most of Schreyer's sharp styling.

    A panoramic glass roof, reversing sensors, 17in alloys and part-leather upholstery come when you move up to 2, and 3 delivers 18in alloys, dual-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats and xenon headlights.

    The test car though was the top of the range — the with 3 Sat-nav — which, not suprisingly, came with an integrated 7in navigation system in the dashboard.

    The little diesel packs sufficient punch to make it entertaining and versatile, with its 114bhp and 192lb/ft of torque. It's not the fastest thing on Earth, but let's face it, the Sportage isn't something you're going to be taking to a track day. Once the engine's warmed up, it's a refined powerplant and the slick gearshifts do allow you to hustle when the need — and the conditions — allow.

    Our test route, I have to admit, was frustratingly slow simply. Much of it was through built-up areas and quaint, picturesque Slovakian villages and Slovakian police were out in force in numerous spots along the 90-mile route with mobile speed traps. Not wanting to have to part with a wallet-full of euros, we stuck diligently well below the safe side of the speed limits

    New Sportage's steering is precise and nicely weighted, and body roll is nicely contained. It's an extremely competent piece of kit.

    That feeling extends to the cabin. Yes you can see where money has been saved by the use of slightly cheaper materials, but that does not take away from the general feel-good atmosphere within the Sportage. The high-set seat makes viewing feel very SUV-like, and there are plenty of manual seat adjustments to ensure you find the perfect seating position.

    Rear seat passengers enjoy more than ample head and legroom, though it's a slight disappointment that it doesn't slide back and forward, a feature many of its rivals have fitted as standard.

    That said, with its 60:40 split, it's still a very practical loadspace. The boot can hold up to 564 litres with the seats up, or 1353 with them folded, and that despite a full-sized spare alloy wheel beneath the boot floor.

    Kia has certainly got a lot right with the new Sportage — don't forget the seven-year warranty — and, more importantly, very little wrong. The test car merely confirmed the newcomer is a serious rival to competition which includes the Nissan Qashqai and the like. I'd suggest though, certainly depending on exactly what spec you really need in your car, that the best Sportage model for you may well not be the 3 Sat-Nav; there are better value models further down the range which do the job more than adequately.

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £22,750 / £22,750
    Engine / Power: 1698cc / 114bhp
    How fast?: 11.9secs / Max 107mph
    How big/heavy?: H1635mm W1855mm L4440mm / 1612kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 52.3 mpg / CO2 143g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: tba/tba
    Alternatives: Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Skoda Yeti

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