The Kia Sportage

By Philip Hedderman
SOME say that Kia couldn’t have picked a worse time to launch a new SUV – they say it be couldn’t be a better time.
With growing instability in Libya, oil prices are going up on a daily basis and we are now forced to watch every single cent.
Although the price of a barrel of crude hasn’t hit the record levels of a couple of years ago, pump prices have exceeded it (but that’s a story for another day).
Bearing this in mind, an SUV can’t fare too well when counting the pennies?
Not the case with the all-new Sportage.
You see, the Korean car giant has taken the SUV rulebook and ripped it to shreds.
The days of the gas guzzler are well and truly over.
High tax and even higher fuel consumption are a thing of the past.
Yes, the third generation of the model is so cost-conscious and green that it resides in VRT band B – which means that it costs just €156 a year to tax.
It’s also a lot less thirsty so the 1.7 litre 115bhp diesel makes fewer pit stops than its peers and is as economical as a family hatchback.
That’s all thanks to technology like ISG (Intelligent Stop and Go) which shuts the engine off when stuck in heavy traffic.
But whatever about it’s glittering CO2 CV, its sheer beauty will have the masses swooning – especially women.
To be fair she has pretty good genes and any fashionista worth her salt could tell that this is fresh of the hot to trot rail.
It’s so hot in fact that it carries all the hallmarks of Kia’s star designer Peter Schreyer, who was the genius behind such motoring legends as the Audi TT and the VW Beetle.
The design is worlds apart from it’s ugly younger sister which, to be frank, had bumps in all the wrong places.

Who can forget those over- sized wheel arches and googly-eyed headlamps?


No more though – it’s gone from Korean geek to German chic with a couple of strokes of Schreyer’s trusty black marker.

It has real presence now and the sleeker, more muscular look gives it a much-needed aggressive, in-your-face attitude that was seriously lacking before.

Inside the styling continues in the same vein with a really high quality cabin built to a much higher standard than nearly all of its rivals.

Depending on spec you can indulge yourself with wall-to-wall leather (option) and full panoramic glass roof (standard on EX and GSE models) which give this rugged bus a real premium feel.

It’s also bursting at the seams with the state-of-the-art driver technology including ABS, ESC (Electric Stability Control) Hill Start Assist and Down Hill Brake Control.

Real 4X4 fans will be well impressed by the 2.0 litre model which will automatically switch from 2WD tro 4WD on poor roads or adverse weather conditions.

There’s also acres of space both in the cabin, rear and boot – thanks to fold flat rear seats giving a massive1,353 litres of luggage area.

Oh and don’t forget the seven-year warranty from bumper to bumper which comes with the car not the owner – making it an irresistible second hand buy in the future.

So it’s pretty much perfection then.

Er, well no.

There is one chink in the armour – the drive.

Now I take the point that this is not family saloon, therefore will not handle, corner, or drive like one.

But it could be a whole lot better.

The steering is where the whole party begins to unravel and at times it feels like driving a bouncy castle.

It’s woolly, impersonal and never really connects the driver with what the rest of the chassis is doing.

That said, the majority of these wagons will only see winding country road once a year and their main stomping ground – the school run and shopping centres – is where they will be king.

Let’s face it, it’s yummy mummies not country bumpkins who will be queueing up to shell out the €25,600 for the pleasure.

The high driving position, feeling of added safety and powerful road presence has proven a real winner here.

Its striking good looks coupled with the fact that the Nissan Qashqai is looking a little tired gives the new Sportage a real edge.

LX 1.7D €25,600

16” Alloys
All round electric windows
Blue Tooth
Cruise Control
Remote Audio Controls
Intelligent Stop & Go Technolgy

EX 1.7D – €27,800

• 17” Alloys
• Half leather
• Privacy Glass
• Electric mirrors
• Front & rear electric windows
• Voice command Bluetooth
• Cruise control
• Air conditioning
• Fog lamps
• 115 bhp engine
• Tax BAND B

GSE 1.7 D adds – € 29,995

• Xenon HID lights with
lamp washer
• Full leather
• Dual Climate control
• Heated seats (front & rear)

Full Video coming very soon