I have reviewed a Sportage once before, but that was the 1.7-litre, 2WD version. There is a new model due out at the end of this year, so I fancied one more go in this model. And what better way to mark the end of this model than to grab a range-topping KX4, which boasts a 2.0-litre diesel and 4WD. One thing’s for sure; this car was getting a good test. It was our first rally and the Sportage would be stepping up as service vehicle. Its first job was to get us, the car and all our equipment to Wallasey, forming the basis of the first ever tow car review on Simply Motor. Enjoy…
Looks – 8/10
The Sportage has been around for some time now. It may surprise you that the model as you see it here has been around since 2010. That’s a credit to Kia’s design team, because despite 5 years of time it still looks fresh. There’s a bold grille up front, some LED daytime running lights and a smooth bonnet. You get a little ‘AWD’ badge on each wing to let you know this is a capable Sportage, and although the two-tone wheels are 18-inch in diameter, they still have plenty of rubber around them. I still think the plastic outline around the bottom of the car gives a nice rugged appearance, whilst the rest of the car manages to be rather sleek. There’s even a small spoiler at the back, and a nice shark fin aerial.
The interior of the Sportage is a nice place to be. There are some lovely leather seats with contrasting stitching. The dashboard is a lovely titanium-coloured plastic and this offers a break from what is otherwise a dark interior. This is most noticeable in the back, and I hope on the new car they find a way to break this up by changing the door cards. The only saving grace is that the twin sunroof helps let a little light in. The steering wheel isn’t the nicest either, with random buttons strewn at the bottom. Having seen the interior on the newer pro_cee’d and Optima models, as well as the first images of the new Sportage, I know this won’t feature on the new car. The 7-inch touch screen creates a focal point, and the driver instruments are crisp and clear.
Handling/Performance – 8/10
So now onto the engine. Having only driven the 1.7-litre car before, which boasts 114PS, I was longing for a bit more grunt. Thankfully the KX4 comes with an exclusive engine; a 2.0-litre diesel putting out 181PS and 392Nm of torque when attached to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Drive is sent to all four wheels, making this a completely different animal to the car I’d previously driven. It’s hardly rapid; with 0-62mph dealt with in 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 121mph. What I especially liked is how the gearbox worked. It has a tendency to hold gears and use all that torque, yet it would kick down easily if you wanted it to.
The Sportage comes with adjustable electric power steering. There are three modes being ‘Normal’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’. Whilst this is never going to be the best car to drive, I do like how the steering works. I never used normal mode; opting for sport when driving 90% of the time. This offered a weightier feel. On longer motorway drives, I selected comfort mode because this just took all the effort out of those little adjustments needed to stay in your lane. It works very well indeed. The ride is good too, and I was more than happy to get in it after a day spent rallying. The Sportage also coped well with a full load and a trailer. It was stable and smooth, something which we were grateful for.
Economy – 7/10
The Sportage is a rather economical beast when you opt for the 1.7-litre diesel. So how would the bigger 2.0-litre model fare with its AWD system and automatic gearbox? Well combined fuel consumption is quoted as 39.2mpg and CO2 emissions are 189g/km. I was pleased with the consumption figure, and even when towing our rally car with a boot full of equipment the Sportage managed a very respectable 33mpg. The CO2 emissions do cause some issue though, because they put the Sportage in VED band J. That means annual tax is currently £265 a year. What’s more, in the first year this is currently £490. That’s quite a significant outlay and was a little disheartening. I’ll see how the new model compares…
Practicality – 10/10
If there was ever a test designed solely to test the practicality of a car, then surely loading it from floor to roof with kit, hitching up a trailer and setting off on a 90-mile drive would be it. And what I can tell you is the Sportage was an absolute delight. The 2.0-litre diesel is good to tow 2,000kg braked with a manual gearbox. Bizarrely, the automatic- with more torque- is rated at 1,600kg for a braked trailer. Thankfully our trailer is 1,300kg gross, so this didn’t cause any issue. Thanks to the 1,353-litres of boot space with the rear seats folded down our equipment- and there was a heck of a lot of it- was soon swallowed up. The KX4 gets satellite navigation, Bluetooth hands-free telephone, iPod connectivity, dual-zone climate control and heated seats. All of these make day-to-day life better, and made the Kia an excellent service vehicle for the rally.
Fun – 7/10
I think the Sportage is good fun for an SUV. I like the styling, although this model is nicer on the outside than on the inside. I will be welcoming the new model with open arms, and I think it’s the interior that will be the most noticeable difference. From spending a lot of time behind the wheel I grew to dislike the current steering wheel. It’s hardly a significant complaint, I know, but I just don’t like it. That being said the dials and multimedia system are great. The latter is very easy to use, and in no time I had my favourite tunes blasting out from my iPod. With keyless entry and go, and a reversing camera, there’s plenty of goodies to show off to your friends, and given that the Sportage seems well liked amongst consumers, it’s likely your friends will be impressed.
So that’s my week with the Kia Sportage. And what a busy week it was. I often see these versatile SUVs in front of big white elephants. Sorry, caravans. And that’s understandable, because they make a great tow car; especially with Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) as standard across the range. With the new car on its way, I would imagine there would be some deals to be had on this model. So now might actually be the best time to go and get one. List price for the Sportage KX4 auto is £29,510. Knock £1,300 off if you want a manual. That’s good value for a car which is certainly fully loaded, and don’t forget there’s a 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty with that as well. For more information log on to the Kia website, or pop in to see your local dealer. The Sportage KX4; it took me to my first ever rally in comfort. And for that I will always love it.
Total Score - 40/50