An SUV with a conscience

Here’s Kia’s new Sportage, an SUV crossover that confirms the massive changes that SUVs have undergone over the last five years. An ugly, boxy, polluting gas guzzler this ain’t. In fact it’s not even a 4x4 (though there is an All-Wheel-Drive version). This one is 2WD and has Kia’s all new 1.7 CRDi 114bhp diesel engine. It also has Kia’s Intelligent Stop and Go (ISG) system, which shuts down the engine when the car is stationary to further save fuel and reduce emissions. The car restarts instantly when I’m ready to move and I soon forget about it entirely. Together this version can do as much as 54.3mpg (Combined) and all with CO2 emissions of just 135g/Km. Which means you can have the high seating position, the look and and the practical functionality of an SUV without the expense of owning one. Impressive stuff.

It’s also unusually handsome, thanks to its sporty stance and muscular styling. It’s wide and low – which is always good from a handling perspective – and the use of chrome on the outside – in the grille and door handles, in particular – give the car a more opulent look than we have come to expect from Kia in the past. And with its 18-inch alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights the Sportage looks as contemporary as any of its rivals, if not more so than most of them.

Aimed at families, we find the Sportage to be more than adequate space-wise and inside it is certainly comfortable. This is the top spec “3 Sat-nav” trim level – with leather seats (which are heated), dual-zone climate control and 18in wheels plus a navigation kit with a seven-inch screen in the dashboard. Inside it’s not fantastically dramatic – there is some piano black and some chrome-like details and the instruments are clear. It’s a perfectly decent car interior. But the boot too is very spacious, with an unusually large 564-litre capacity. The panoramic sunroof is amazing. Two sliding blinds close the roof from the sky but on a bright day the sunroof is a trip. An anti-trap system means kids can’t get their fingers trapped in it either, though God knows how they would manage that unless you let them play in it on the drive at the weekends. Around town I find myself driving the Sportage conservatively. The cockpit is a nice place and I find the engine responds well to just pootling about. With a 0-60mph time of 11.9 seconds progress is unhurried. Not that the Sportage is particularly slow, it’s just kind off easy going, or at least it seems to encourage me to be. It’s also fantastically easy to park thanks to good visibility and a rear camera system that displays what’s going on behind you when reverse gear is selected.

Overall I find the Sportage a remarkably easy car to drive. Add this to Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty and very reasonable price and it’s clear the Sportage is a stress-free winner.

THE FACTS:
KIA SPORTAGE

price: £23,065
0-60mph: 11.9secs
Top speed: 107mph
CO2 g/km: 135g/km
MPG Combined: 54.3mpg

THE VERDICT:
DESIGN
PERFORMANCE
PRACTICALITY
VALUE FOR MONEY