Kia Sportage GT-Line review

The Kia Sportage is a popular SUV, but is GT-Line the best trim level to pick?

The Kia Sportage is a distinctive compact SUV in a class bursting with rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008 and SEAT Ateca. Its quirky looks have paid off, because the Sportage has proved to be a strong seller, and Kia has recently launched a facelifted version to ensure it stays competitive.

This includes a subtle makeover, revamped engine line-up and improved equipment. Engines include a normally aspirated or turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol, a diesel of the same size or a larger 2.0-litre version. Much of the Sportage range is front-wheel drive, saving weight and boosting fuel-efficiency but four-wheel drive is also available in the diesels and top petrol. For the majority of drivers, the 1.6-litre diesel is likely to be the best all-round choice thanks to its 57.6mpg fuel-efficiency and reasonable performance.

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Perhaps most interestingly, the range-topping 2.0-litre diesel also gets mild-hybrid technology for the first time. This comprises a small battery and starter-generator unit that can give the engine a boost under acceleration and charge up as the car is coasting, reducing CO2 emissions by around 4%. It can manage 48.7mpg, 154g/km of CO2 and 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds.

Sitting towards the top of the range, the Sportage GT-Line trim has proved especially desirable with UK buyers thanks to its blend of sporty looks, upmarket interior and technology. It costs around £5,000 more than the entry-level Sportage '1' trim but comes kitted out with trendy 19-inch alloy wheels, LED adaptive headlights and striking 'Ice-Cube' front fog lights.

It would be easy to mistake parts of its interior for a luxury SUV too, with black leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, reversing camera and a black headliner all making an appearance. Kia's infotainment system is slick and easy to use, with a seven-inch screen preloaded with European mapping to ensure you won't get lost. These features and updates to the steering wheel, driver's display and air con controls means the Sportage feels more impressive than the Nissan Qashqai, while it still lacks the ultra-modern feel of the Peugeot 3008.

On the road, the Kia Sportage GT-Line has a smooth power delivery when fitted with the 2.0-litre diesel, while its chassis also feels very grown up. It's neat to drive and very stable, if not serving up quite as much fun as the SEAT Ateca.

Verdict: 4/5

The Kia Sportage is well equipped even in entry-level '1' trim, but SUV customers tend to want style as well as gadgets and the GT-Line trim delivers on this front. Its chunky alloy wheels and piercing 'Ice-Cube' fog lights ensure the Sportage GT-Line stands out in a crowded class. A great ownership experience is also practically ensured by a strong finish in our 2018 Driver Power ownership survey and Kia’s excellent warranty.

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