8.6.2016Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 2 Eco review
The Sportage is a hugely important model for the Kia, having previously played a big part in the transformation of the badge from offering bargain basement boxes to cars that compete on an equal footing with the traditional big manufacturers. This latest fourth-generation model then then has quite a lot to live up to, not least because the previous Sportage was a good all-round family car.
Review by Chris Lilly
Powered by a 1.7 litre CRDi four cylinder diesel engine, the Sportage offers the driver 114hp to play with, which doesn't sound much considering the Kia is a decent sized family car. However, combine that power with the 280 Nm (207 lb ft) of torque available and the engine does a pretty good job of shifting the Sportage around. Performance figures come in at 11.5 seconds for the 0-62mph time, with a top speed of 109mph; nothing too thrilling there, but perfectly respectable nonetheless. Leaving aside the pure statistics then, the Sportage - in this guise - feels as though it has more than enough performance for what is required from a family-sized crossover. If the car begins to struggle up a hill, all it takes is for the driver to drop a gear and the diesel's torque will pull the Kia up nicely. For most drivers, this engine will offer the best balance between power and cost, and the Sportage is happy to cruise lazily at motorway speeds or run around town with equal measure.
In a pleasantly surprising piece of news, the Sportage is good to drive. It's no statement on Kia or the Sportage badge to say that, but a tall family hatchback rarely offers such a well-balanced driving experience. With plenty of travel, the suspension is able to soak up lumps and bumps easily, and is set up well so that it doesn't feel too soft when on smoother surfaces. This is great news for most drivers since the poorly maintained urban and country roads are most likely to be the Sportage's most natural habitat. When on faster flowing routes, the Sportage also manages to offer a fairly engaging driving experience with good levels of feedback from the steering wheel and a precise turn-in. Don't expect driving dynamics to match the likes of a conventional hatchback, but the Sportage does a very good job for a crossover. There is a fair amount of body roll - to help with in-town manners - but it's not bad at all and the weight transfer never feels barge-like. The brakes don't offer as much feedback as the steering but are still good overall, and stopping power is excellent.
Beauty is in the eye etc. but I think the Sportage is a good looking car. From the front we can certainly call it distinctive and, though it is not to everyone's tastes, the bold 'tiger-nose' grille and swept back headlights offer a strong visual focal point. After the nose, the Sportage is a fine looking car in my opinion, and the rear in particular is very stylish. Style isn't a deal breaker for most buyers, but it can help sway decisions and in a market as competitive as the family crossover sector, it is important to have a well designed car. What is more important in this area though is practicality - and the Sportage competes well in this regard. Boot space is a little above average for its class, but is easily accessible with a flat sill and wide access hatch. Further forward and four adults will have more than enough space in which to sit - and five for occasional trips - or two and three children fit well too. Up front and the driving position is comfortable and fairly high, with occupants climbing in rather than up or down to the seats. There is good forward visibility because of this, though rear visibility could be better, hindered by the large C-pillar and sloping roof-line. It's not unlivable with though.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The Sportage's interior is very good and is one of the best around in terms of quality. Everything feels well made and reliable, with plenty of soft-touch plastics around the cabin. For the driver, the steering wheel is of a good size to hold, and not overly cluttered with buttons either. The gear change on the manual model tested offered a smooth gear change, and the instruments and controls are clear to read and easy to use - especially so for the driver as the console is tilted slightly towards them. Seating is comfortable all round, with good levels of leg and shoulder room, and surprisingly head room considering the stylish roof-line. Refinement is good too considering the large size of the car, with wind and tyre noise kept to a background volume. Engine refinement is good too, though a little rough when cold like all diesels.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Returning a quoted 61.4 MPG and emissions figure of 119 g/km CO2, the Sportage is one of the better models in its class. Only the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar - which share the same engine - manage to comfortably beat the Sportage's economy figures. If you are looking at a large crossover then, the Kia is a decent one to consider in terms of running costs. In real world driving, I managed to get 51.6 MPG with one eye on the fuel economy figure but not a compete dedication to hypermiling - while on a spirited driving run, the Sportage returned 42.5 MPG. In terms of tax, the Kia sits in Band C, costing nothing for the first year and Â£30 each year after that. Considering the Sportage is almost 4.5 meters long, 1.9 meters wide, and 1.65 meters tall - with more than 500 litres of seats-up load space - economy figures are fairly good for such a practical car.
The 1.7 CRDi diesel engine fitted is 16 g/km CO2 cleaner and more efficient to the tune of more than 7 MPG when compared to the outgoing model's unit. This is good news considering the third generation 1.7 CRDi model accounted for more than half of Sportage sales. Fitted with a manual gearbox and keeping the Sportage at two-wheel drive, despite its soft-roader styling, means that engine isn't worked as hard as it potentially can be, improving efficiency. Intelligent Stop and Go (ISG) cuts the engine while stationary helping save fuel and emissions. According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 39.
All models come well equipped with the entry level Sportage 1 fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, DAB, USB and Bluetooth audio system, cruise control and speed limited, front fog lights, leather trimmed steering wheel, and electric wing mirrors. Sportage 2 trim tested adds the likes of a touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, dual zone air conditioning, auto-dimming rear view mirror, 17-inch alloys, roof rails, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights and wipers, reversing camera, and heated door mirrors. Further up the range sees features including a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, powered tailgate, and leather upholstery.
Kia has managed a tough task and made a popular and capable family car even better. The Sportage competes at or towards the top of its class in most areas, and only in terms of efficiency does it not rival the best around. It's spacious inside, good to drive, fairly stylish, and well made. Buyers have to consider the industry leading seven year / 100,000 mile warranty too, which offers excellent piece of mind for many. The sportage doesn't excel in any particular area, but it does score highly in all of them. Should Kia offer a version with CO2 emissions closer to or below the 100 g/km mark, it would easily be rated as a four or four and a half star car. As such, it will have to make do with three and a half stars. For those looking at family crossovers, the Sportage has to be considered.
Model tested: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 2 Eco
Body-style: Large five-door crossover
Engine / CO2: 1.7 CRDi turbo diesel / 119 g/km
Trim grades: 1, KX-1, 2, KX-2, 3, KX-3, 4, KX-4, First Edition, and GT Line
On-road price: From £18,000. Price as tested £22,050
Warranty: Severn year / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars