SPORTAGE CROSSES OVER IN REAL STYLE

Kia builds smartly on strong foun­da­tions of pre­de­ces­sor with great looks in­side and out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - JONATHAN CROUCH

KIA SPORTAGE 1.7 CRDI

KIA’S Sportage was once a bit player in the SUV Cross­over mar­ket.

The first generation car was the sort of thing you might have bought if you lived on a re­mote small­hold­ing where no­body would see what you were driv­ing.

The sec­ond generation model was a re­badged Hyundai Tuc­son that moved things on sig­nif­i­cantly but wasn’t in any way pol­ished.

Then though, we got the MK3 Sportage, a car which had the glitz to mix it with the best cross­over SUVS out there while sell­ing at prices they found hard to match.

This fourth generation model picks up where that car left off and one of the few things that hasn’t been changed about it is the en­gine most buy­ers choose, the 1.7-litre CRDI diesel unit on test here.

It’s only of­fered with front wheel drive, but that’s what most cus­tomers want any­way.

In this form, the idea of a stylish Cross­over that is ca­pa­ble of reg­u­larly de­liv­er­ing over 60mpg, while re­turn­ing a tax-friendly CO2 read­ing of un­der 120g/km might well be tempt­ing to plenty of peo­ple in this seg­ment.

Right, now let’s put this car to the test.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

Mind­ful of re­quire­ments, let’s ig­nore how this Sportage fares in the mud as it’s just not rel­e­vant. Just how not rel­e­vant is sup­ported by the fact that Kia of­fers the Sportage with this en­gine in two-wheel drive guise only. These cars are usu­ally used as sub­ur­ban school run spe­cials that have enough about them to take in the odd fam­ily hol­i­day to Dis­ney­land Paris or sim­i­lar.

This Sportage is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to the class norm. Whereas cars like the Ford Kuga or the Nis­san Qashqai have been en­gi­neered to of­fer a very taut, car-like driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, this is an al­to­gether softer-sprung thing. Okay, so it’s not as ‘flingable’, but for the sort of ur­ban driv­ing and mo­tor­way cruises its tar­get cus­tomers will use it for, the Sportage feels a more re­laxed com­fort­able thing.

The 1.7 CRDI vari­ant we look at here is pow­ered by a 114bhp 1.7-litre tur­bod­iesel that will get it to 62mph in a rea­son­able enough 11.1 sec­onds, but the en­gine does its best work be­tween 1250 and 2750rpm, where it feels lazily elas­tic and more mus­cu­lar than the peak power fig­ure would sug­gest thanks to the meaty 280Nm of torque.

It’s de­cep­tively brisk if you can keep the en­gine in the heart of the torque range, the lan­guid throt­tle re­sponse be­ly­ing how much shove there re­ally is. As well as this 1.7-litre diesel, Kia also of­fers a 2.0-litre diesel, plus 1.6 nor­mally as­pi­rated and tur­bocharged petrol engines.

De­sign and Build

The front end of this MK4 model Sportage is the big­gest change over the out­go­ing model, thanks to smarter head­lamps that sit just above a bolder, lower, wider ver­sion of Kia’s hall­mark ‘ tiger-nose’ grille. These lights are now po­si­tioned higher, sweep­ing back along the outer edges of the sharply-de­tailed bon­net.

The re­sult is a more im­pos­ing ap­pear­ance and a more sta­ble-look­ing stance, de­spite this model re­tain­ing the same 1,855mm width as its pre­de­ces­sor. It’s 40mm longer though — and more aero­dy­namic.

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At the rear, this fourth generation Sportage fea­tures more hor­i­zon­tal forms and clearly de­fined feature lines, with smooth body­work on the tail­gate em­pha­sis­ing the car’s width and giv­ing this com­pact SUV a more sta­ble ap­pear­ance.

In­side, there’s a com­pletely new in­te­rior, with higher qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and a cen­tral con­sole that cas­cades down­wards and is tilted 10 de­grees to­wards the driver. The 30mm in­crease in this model’s wheel­base means the cabin is more spa­cious too, with greater head­room front and rear.

At the back, the seats re­cline fur­ther than be­fore for greater long-dis­tance com­fort. Out back, boot space is up from the pre­vi­ous model’s 465-litre to­tal to 503-litres here.

Mar­ket and Model

Though Sportage prices start at around £18,000, you have to stretch to nearly £20,000 to get a diesel vari­ant, this 1.7-litre CRDI model be­ing the least ex­pen­sive back pump-fu­elled ver­sion you can have.

This fourth generation Sportage is look­ing to nick sales from the likes of Skoda’s Yeti and Suzuki’s SX4 S- Cross — and if early data is any­thing to go by, it can also at­tract buy­ers look­ing at slightly pricier cars like Ford’s Kuga, Mazda’s CX-5 and even Toy­ota’s RAV4.

Equip­ment lev­els have been sub­tly boosted across the range. All ver­sions now have 16-inch al­loy wheels and all-round disc brakes, a black di­a­mond-mesh grille with chromed sur­round, front fog lights, LED day­time run­ning lamps, cornering lights and chrome-coated belt-line mould­ings.

In­side, there’s smart black cloth up­hol­stery with a grey head­lin­ing, elec­tri­cally ad­justable door mir­rors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shifter, all-round elec­tric windows, air conditioning, a DAB ra­dio, Blue­tooth with mu­sic stream­ing, USB and AUX ports and 12-volt power out­lets in the front and rear. Driv­ing stuff runs to Trailer Sta­bil­ity As­sist, Hill-start As­sist, Down­hill Brake Con­trol and cruise con­trol with speed lim­iter.

Cost of Own­er­ship

If you’re look­ing to save a bob or two — as most Kia own­ers tra­di­tion­ally have been — front-wheeldrive Sportage mod­els like this 1.7-litre CRDI vari­ant are the ones most likely to ap­peal.

For an up-front spend of around £1,750 over the en­try-level 1.6-litre petrol model, this 1.7-litre diesel im­proves your com­bined cy­cle fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure from 42.2mpg to over 61mpg and your CO2 fig­ure from 156g/km to 119g/km. The pre­vi­ous generation Sportage 1.7 CRDI man­aged 54mpg and 135g/km, so that’s a de­cent im­prove­ment.

One use­ful change is that this MK4 ver­sion of­fers greater fuel ca­pac­ity than the third-generation model, with the fuel tank in­creas­ing in size from 58-litres to 62-litres, cut­ting the num­ber of fuel pump vis­its that own­ers of the new car will have to make.

Like the rest of the Kia range, the Sportage is sold with the ex­cel­lent seven-year or 100,000-mile war­ranty. It is fully trans­fer­able should the car be sold be­fore then or mileage lim­its have been reached.

Fixed cost ser­vic­ing also brings ad­di­tional peace of mind via the Kia Care-3 and Care-3 Plus ser­vic­ing pack­age, of­fer­ing re­tail cus­tomers inflation-proof ser­vic­ing for the first three or five years.

Sum­mary

As long as you’re not ex­pect­ing an off-roader in the tra­di­tional sense of the word, it’s hard to see how the Kia Sportage would dis­ap­point. It’s well built, rides smoothly, now of­fers a much nicer in­te­rior and — the clincher for many — it still looks good.

Ul­ti­mately, this fourth generation ver­sion merely builds on the strong foun­da­tion its pre­de­ces­sor es­tab­lished, but then that’s no bad thing. That car was just right for its in­tended mar­ket — as this one is, es­pe­cially in this fru­gal 1.7-litre CRDI diesel 2WD guise. With Kias of the past you used to need a spread­sheet to ex­plain the ra­tio­nale be­hind your buy­ing de­ci­sion. Now all you need is a photo.

The Kia Sportage 1.7-litre CRDI de­liv­ers on looks and per­for­mance

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