By Robert Maddox
The waiting is over. The latest version of Kia’s hugely popular Sportage SUV has arrived in UK showrooms as crossover vehicles of its type are now the most popular family transport across Europe.
There’s little doubt it’s going to be a huge success for the Korean brand, just like its predecessor for long the firm’s too-selling model in the UK.
Kia has produced a winner by creating a car that’s stylish as well as practical, writes Robert Maddox. And this super-duper SUV further appeals by having a real classy feel while also featuring more efficient engines together with advanced driver assistance technology. Altogether 18 versions of the fourth-generation model are being sold here, priced from £17,995 and including a new GT-Line trim level for drivers seeking a particularly sporty Sportage. The lineup is headed by a luxurious First Edition vehicle costing £31,645. All are backed by Kia’s industry leading seven-year/100,000-miles warranty.
Kia boasts the new Sportage brings major advances in fuel efficiency, comfort, connectivity, convenience and safety while also being subtly modernised. Priced from £24,350, the GT Line versions stand alone in being powered by a new 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and are sure to attract drivers who may not have previously considered the brand which has powered to so much success in the UK.
Other versions have extensively re-engineered 1.6-litre GDi petrol and 1.7- and 2.0-litre turbodiesel power units delivering improved fuel economy and CO2 reductions of up to 29g/km, which means significantly lower company car tax for the Sportage’s loyal legions of business drivers. The six trim lines are badged 1, 2, 3, 4, GT-Line and First Edition. All versions powered by the 1.6-litre GDi and 1.7-litre CRDi engines are front-wheel drive, while those powered by the 1.6-litre T-GDi unit and the two 2.0-litre CRDi diesels have all-wheel drive. The four-wheel-drive vehicles are distinguished by the ‘KX’ prefix in the model designation – except for GT-Line and First Edition versions, Connectivity and advanced driver aids are a prerequisite in any car these days, and the Sportage will not disappoint on either count.
All versions except the entry-level grade have a touch-screen satellite navigation system linked to Kia Connected Services with TomTom, providing full European mapping and detailed traffic, speed camera, weather and local services information. Further up the range, Speed Limit Information, Lane Keep Assist, High Beam Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert technology are available.
Kia has won legions of fans by offering drivers a lot for their money and in the case of the new Sportage buyers get an extensive spread of goodies. Front foglights, LED daytime running lamps and cornering lights are found on all versions along with powered door mirrors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift, all-round electric windows, air conditioning, a DAB radio, Bluetooth with music streaming, USB and AUX ports. Other features common across he range include 12-volt power outlets front and rear, Trailer
Stability Assist, Hill-start Assist, Downhill Brake Control and cruise control with speed limiter. All engines shared with the outgoing Sportage have been extensively revised to meet EU6 emissions regulations, with the result they now deliver better fuel economy with lower CO2 emissions. The 1.7-litre CRDi favoured by more than half of all Sportage buyers is now more than 7mpg more fuel-efficient in combined mode, while its CO2 output falls by 16g/km. The fun-to-drive qualities which were a major attraction for buyers of the outgoing Sportage have been honed to an even sharper degree in the new model through a combination of a much stiffer body shell, extensive suspension revisions and a new steering system.
The improvements are sure to make the vehicle even more precise and stable on the UK’s twisty country roads while also promising a more comfortable and refined ride on highways and motorways.
Kia’s intelligent all-wheel-drive that’s standard on 1.6-litre T-GDi and 2.0-litre CRDi versions keeps running costs down by normally delivering 100% of engine torque to the front wheels. This can be redistributed up to a maximum of 60:40 front-torear to enhance cornering stability. For off-road driving owners can manually select lock mode, which gives a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph. The system is linked to Advanced Traction Cornering Control, which monitors road speed, throttle input and steering angle and distributes torque between the left and right wheels to maximise cornering stability.
The model is 40mm longer than its predecessor with a 30mm greater wheelbase but unchanged when it comes to width and height, making it look even more lithe and sporty while lowering its drag co-efficient to help lower fuel consumption and emissions at speed. The increased wheelbase has made the five-seat cabin more spacious. Legroom and headroom front and rear is up to 16mm greater, while boot capacity has risen by 26 litres at 491 litres with all seats in use or 1,480 litres when they are folded.
The rear seats now fold almost flat. Add a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP plus the company’s unique-in-the-UK seven-year warranty, which is fully transferable should the car be sold before the time or mileage limits have been reached, and the new Sportage represents an attractive proposition for anyone considering a compact SUV/crossover vehicle. Kia’s Care-3 and Care-3 Plus servicing packages offer retail customers fixed-cost, inflation-proof servicing for three or five years.