Kia Sportage SUV
Price: £17,495 - £29,495
- Great value for money
- Spacious interior
- Seven-year warranty
- Some cheap-feeling trim
- Lifeless steering
- Bouncy ride
"The Kia Sportage is a good value, practical and smart competitor in the crossover market."
The Kia Sportage is a crossover SUV like the Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX, Skoda Yeti, and Hyundai ix35 and it's an extremely good one, too. It was the first car to win the CarBuyer Car of the Year award, back in 2011. And we named it Best 4x4 in 2012. It looks fantastic – far more stylish than you’d expect from a budget brand and a lot slicker than rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti. But a pretty face is not is the extent of the Sportage's talents, its equipment levels are outstanding. Even entry-level models get alloy wheels, tinted glass, LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing front windscreen wipers, Bluetooth, USB and aux-in connection as standard, which is remarkable given its price. The interior is great, too, it looks stylish and is well laid out. The engine range is excellent and it comes with a seven-year warranty. It's not all good news tough, as the Sportage does have its problems; some of the materials in the interior feel a bit cheap, and it isn’t the best car to drive – the steering feels a bit lifeless and it bounces around a bit. Despite these gripes, the Sportage is still a superbly accomplished car.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economy and emissions aren’t a match for rivals, but servicing costs will be low
For a big SUV, the Kia Sportage is reasonably efficient, but some of its rivals have managed to cut emissions a lot further. The most economical model is the 1.7-litre CRDi EcoDynamics diesel model fitted with stop-start, which will do 54.3mpg and emit 135g/km CO2. That's some way behind the Skoda Yeti Greenline, which boasts figure of 61.4mpg and 119g/km CO2, and even further behind the Nissan Qashqai which is capable of 98g/km CO2 and 74.3mpg.The top-of-the-range 181bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel Sportage will only do 46.3mpg and emit 158g/km CO2. Opting for an automatic gearbox or a four-wheel drive system will drive up emission figures and reduce economy still further. On the other hand, Kia's seven-year warranty means you’re guaranteed not to face a major repair bill for the best part of a decade and the Sportage's servicing costs are less than most rivals, too.
Interior & comfort
Soft suspension is comfortable but leads to a bouncy ride
The Sportage has definitely been set-up to prioritise comfort over sporty handling, so the suspension is very soft. As a result it soaks up bumps and potholes in the road, but it also bounces around quite a bit, which could be an issue if you or a family member suffer from car sickness – you’ll need to test drive it to be sure. The seats are supportive, firm and comfortable, though – and help to reduce the effect of the bumpy ride. There is plenty of adjustability in the driving position, plus leg and headroom to spare for front and back passengers, so nobody in the car will feel cramped. The engines can get a little noisy at motorway speeds, but road and wind noise are well insulated from the cabin, so the Sportage is fairly relaxing over long drives. Interior quality is pretty good, given the Sportage's price, and the cabin is certainly attractively styled, but there are some cheap materials used.
Practicality & boot space
Boot size is excellent and the interior is spacious
The Kia Sportage is very much a family car, so it features a sizeable interior and spacious boot. There is plenty of head and legroom in the rear seats, so even tall adults can sit comfortably, and the door bins and glovebox are all big and very useable, plus there's a whole range of useful cubbyholes. The boot has 564 litres of storage capacity, which is more than both the Yeti and the Qashqai.
All Sportage models come fitted with 60/40 split-folding rear seats as standard, and load space increases to 1,353 litres when you fold them flat. The boot opening is wide and easy to load – although it is a little high up to the height of the car – and there's a removable boot floor to store valuables out of sight. Four-wheel drive KX models are very capable off-road, too, and can handle the worst weather conditions the UK can throw at you.
Reliability & safety
Excellent warranty guarantees the Sportage’s reliability for seven years
Kia clearly has a lot of faith in its products since it offers them with a market-leading seven-year warranty. This basically guarantees that you’ll be free from big repair bills for almost a decade – not too bad at all!
Kia, as a brand is proving to be very popular with customers, too. It had a phenomenal result in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, moving up five places and cracking into the top 10 most highly rated manufacturers for the first time ever by finishing seventh out of 32. That puts it above companies like Volvo, Audi, BMW and Ford – a seriously impressive result. And the Sportage got the thumbs up from customers, too, just sneaking into the top half of the Top 100 cars with a 49th place finish.
The Sportage's safety levels are impeccable and it received a five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP. All models are fitted with an incredible list of safety equipment including: front, side and curtain airbags, ISOFIX points for anchoring child seats, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, hill-hold assist, a roll-over sensor and anti-whiplash headrests that protect occupants’ necks.
Engines, drive & performance
On-road ability marks a big improvement over Kias of old, but trails rivals
The Sportage drives pretty well for a big SUV – it's got plenty of grip and handles well too. It's not as agile or as sharp as the Skoda Yeti, though. And it does have a bit of a bouncy ride and you’ll find it leans a bit if you corner at speed. But it's a good motorway cruiser and comfortable around town. The engine range is decent, too. Best of the bunch as far as we’re concerned is the 2.0-litre diesel engine. Why? Because you don’t have to rev it hard to get any power out of it – it’ll move the car briskly from the moment you put your foot down. The entry-level engines are a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.7-litre diesel – both are fine for everyday use but you may find them a bit underpowered on the motorway. There's also a 2.0-litre petrol engine, which is as good to drive as the 2.0-litre diesel but isn’t as efficient. Both the larger petrol and diesel engine models come with an electronically controlled four-wheel drive system, which gives them more traction than the smaller-engined versions. The Sportage's high driving position gives a great view out of the front, but the view out the back is restricted by a small window, which makes rear parking difficult.
Price, value for money & options
A low list price and a long spec list make the Sportage excellent value for money
The Sportage has a very reasonable price when you consider the truly impressive list of kit that comes as standard. Even base spec models get air-con, alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, tinted glass, Bluetooth, USB, aux-in connection and remote central locking. And higher up the range you’ll find heated leather seats and a rear-view parking camera. Kia also offer a great value-for-money servicing pack that fixes the cost of maintaining the car for the first three years, and of course there is the superb seven-year warranty. With all that, it's no surprise that the Sportage has excellent resale value – so you won’t take a huge financial hit when it comes time sell it on.
What the others say
"The amount of equipment fitted as standard in First Edition trim is astounding, with the Kia boasting heated leather seats all round, a rear view camera, cruise control and iPod connectivity. There's also decent legroom for passengers, comfortable seats and a flat transmission tunnel. This all helps the rear feel more spacious than the Qashqai's, despite its narrow window."
"The Sportage isn't as classy as a Nissan Qashqai inside, but it's not too far off. The cabin is attractive and uses some appealing materials, while the controls have a precise, sturdy feel, and the build quality is good. It's too early to predict long-term reliability, but there's the reassurance of Kia's seven-year, unlimited mileage warranty."
"Kia's rivals now have something to truly worry about: the latest Sportage, looks the part and with generous kit levels, acres of space and a decent choice of engines it is raising the bar even higher in the crossover sector."
Last updated: 10 Feb 2014