Kia Sportage Review

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Kia Sportage
The all-new Kia Sportage. Copyright © Kia 2019.

Overview

For an affordable SUV crossover, the Kia Sportage has plenty of premium quality about it and is one of the most practical cars in its class.

For around £22,000, you get can get everything you need from the Sportage, without having to stretch to the range-topping GT or GT-Line S trims. However, you’d benefit from leather sports seats, a more powerful engine range and convenient paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel if you did wish to get the most from your new motor.

“Not everyone is a fan of the bold front bumper of the Sportage – it creates a divide in opinion just like the Nissan Juke does. However, the many standard features mean that the car has a lot going for it.”

Cameron Hale, Moneyshake Car Reviewer

Interior

Inside, the Sportage feels like a premium car. Smart dash stitching and the abundance of plush metallic surrounds on the instrument cluster make a bold statement to rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai.

Kia has also increased the length of the Sportage from the older model. A longer wheelbase means that your passengers in the back have more legroom and headroom to work with.

If you want plush leather seats for your new Sportage, you’ll need to opt for the higher-grade ‘4’ trim. However, the difference in comfort from the standard cloth upholstery is minimal, thanks to its extra padding design.

A wider middle seat in the back makes it possible to carry three adults without needing to draw straws over who gets squashed between the others. It’s a subtle design choice, but something manufacturer’s often neglect – so much so that it’s become the SUV’s Achilles heel.

If a car full of grown-ups wasn’t enough of an achievement, Kia has taken it one step further by gifting each seat in the rear cabin a reclining function. So, you can kick back in true style and make them monotonous motorway journeys bearable.

Infotainment and tech

The standard infotainment system is well-equipped, even on stock Sportage models. A 7” touchscreen display is the centrepiece of the unit, which is integrated into the dashboard subtly and smartly. The minimalist design removes the need for lots of buttons and focuses solely on slick, responsive touchscreen control.

It’s worth upgrading to the mid-range Sportage 2 – the next grade up from the entry-level trim – if you value a built-in satnav for your car. The TomTom unit comes with Kia Connected Services too, which has live reports on traffic, speed cameras and even the local weather.

All models feature a reversing camera system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration with voice control and DAB radio. Wireless charging is also an additional extra or standard on the GT-Line S, provided that your phone is enabled for it.

Premium audio in the form of an 8-speaker JBL sound system is available on the mid-range Platinum Edition Sportage. It includes a subwoofer, external amp and front centre speaker, which work together to deliver top-notch acoustics for your music and other media on the go.

Practicality

Boot space is one of the biggest selling points of the Kia Sportage. 503 litres of volume is enough to accommodate for five people’s luggage. There’s slightly less on four-wheel drive models (491 litres), but it’s still one of the biggest in its class.

An adjustable boot floor as standard means you can reduce the impact of the load lip when lifting heavier items into the boot. Another handy feature Kia thought of was making the parcel shelf so that it could be stowed underneath the boot floor. This way, you don’t have to faff about trying to find a place to store it at home.

One bugbear of the Sportage’s design is that the rear seats don’t create an entirely flat load bay when folded down. As a result, your items may slide about in the back while you’re on the move, but you can avoid this by keeping larger objects at the back. There’s also an absence of handy cubby spaces for smaller, loose items that aren’t drinks besides the glove box, but this won’t take long to fill up with travel sweets and other essentials.

On the road

The driving experience the Sportage offers hasn’t really differed from older models. Despite Kia claiming that the car has now lived up to its sport name, where the vehicle gains its merits from is in its simplicity and refined comfort that score points when you’re cruising.

Active safety features such as intelligent stop-and-go and cruise control lend themselves to the vehicle’s abilities at keeping a near-silent cabin on A-roads. It’s probably for the best that Kia didn’t pursue high performance here, as it may have led to an overpowered, clunky experience behind the wheel.

When comparing it to the Mazda CX5 – or even the Renault Kadjar – is when its true colours show. It lacks the punchy, agile feel associated with most sports cars, even ones of this size. For the asking price, Kia should have invested more into the suspension and handling of the car to give it that competitive edge on the road.

In better news, the Sportage comes with a great range of petrol and diesel engines. The most popular of these is the 1.7 diesel with two-wheel drive, which returns good economy (around 45mpg).

If you’re on a budget, then the 1.6 litre diesel ISG is the least expensive choice. It’s in the lowest insurance group of the bunch and has a combined fuel consumption of 42.2mpg.

For the best performance, the 182bhp 2.0 litre diesel option on the GT-Line is the standout here. This unit comes with all-wheel drive as standard and can reach 60mph from standstill in just 9.2 seconds.

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