Kia Sportage certainly stands out from the crowd

Kia’s Sportage is one of the most striking cars to be launched in recent times, regardless of price. Now the range is complete, wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER tests its eco offering.

The Kia Sportage is a real style statement.

IF you want to turn heads without spending supercar sums of money, then buy a Kia Sportage.
This has to be one of the most striking family cars to be launched in recent years – and I love it. Dramatic, impressive, eye-catching, attractive – I could go on hurling complements at this new model, which, unsurprisingly, has proved a massive hit with buyers.
If its looks alone don’t push your buttons, and I’d be really surprised if they don’t, then the industry leading seven year, 100,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty surely will. This is one car you can buy with confidence – just think about it, how many other manufacturers have the confidence in the quality of their products to back them for more than 3 years with a manufacturer supported warranty? Not very many. Hyundai goes to five years, and some now offer up to 100,000 miles, but only in the first three years. It’s transferable, too – so second, third or even fourth owners will be able to buy the car with a manufacturer’s warranty, which has to be good for dealers and customers alike.

The dashboard area is well designed.

The Sportage was designed by eminent car designer Peter Schreyer, and what a tremendous job he has done with this one. It makes its Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and VW Tiguan competitors look like very plain Jane’s in comparison.
Kia launched the car late last year with a limited range due to production limitations. Called First Edition models, they did the job required of them and created a strong demand with Kia’s loyal customers – and managed to attract new customers to the brand.
The range is now complete, and I have been driving one of the latest models to join the line-up, powered by a 1.7-litre economy-biased diesel engine which can return average mpg figures of between 45-50mpg in everyday use, although up to 56.5mpg is claimed on the combined cycle, and reasonably low C02 emissions of 135g/km.
Helping it achieve these figures is a six-speed gearbox with well chosen ratios and Kia’s ISG stop and go technology. To distinguish it from other models in the range, it sits under Kia’s EcoDynamics badging, and comes with two-wheel-drive as standard.
For those wanting the added versatility of four-wheel-drive, you would need to move up to the 2.0-litre engine and the Dymax intelligent all-wheel-drive system. These models also come with all the off-road aids you could ever need, like Downhill Brake Control, Hill Start Assist and even a roll-over sensor which will deploy airbags and tighten seat belts, but I guess it’s best not to test that one!
The engine pulls well, and once warm is reasonably quiet, although I did notice quite a bit of road noise, particularly on concrete surfaces.
The car drives very well and as I discovered on a trip to Heathrow Airport, in London, is a comfortable travelling companion, and watching the gear change indicator helps you optimise your fuel consumption. With petrol prices heading ever skywards, economy driving is something which I’m finding increasingly intriguing, and with gear change indicators and instant fuel read-outs, as well as the usual average consumption figures, driving on a budget is something that is becoming increasingly important to many drivers.

ecoDynamics badging means there are plenty of smiles to the gallon.

The Sportage can comfortably accommodate five adults, and there is plenty of room in the back for their luggage. It can be concealed by a roller blind-style cover which is certainly easier than some I have come across to locate in its fixing points.
The trim levels are good, with the entry-level 1 grade getting 16in alloys, air con, four electric windows, daytime running lights, body-coloured mirrors,  remote locking, leather trim for the steering wheel and gearlever knob, front fog and cornering lights, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, cruise control and even a cable to connect your iPod with. It’s an impressive inventory which would put some luxury cars costing twice the price to shame.
Further up the range, goodies like xenon headlights, larger alloys, sat nav, leather upholstery and front and rear heated seats are all available, so even the most expensive model in the range looks very good value.
I particularly liked the reversing camera which is cleverly concealed in the rear view mirror. When you select reverse gear, the left-hand side of the mirror becomes a camera, although in the mucky road conditions I experienced, the camera itself, located on the tailgate, became obscured by dirt which presented a fuzzy image on the screen, but a quick wipe with a damp sponge soon solved it.
The Sportage is a great-looking car, and after spending several hours driving one, I certainly have no complaints.
From where I’m sitting, the rise and rise of Kia looks set to continue apace.

The Sportage is a great looking car – from any angle!

Rating: ★★★★★

Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3 Eco Sat Nav 2WD.
KIA SPORTAGE RANGE: From 1 1.6 GDi 2WD 5dr (£17,015) to KX-3 2.0 CRDi AWD Auto 5dr (£25,745).
ENGINE: 1685cc, 114bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 135g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 107mph. 0-62mph in 11.9 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 44.8mpg.
Country: 56.5mpg.
Combined: 52.3mpg.
Fuel tank: 58 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 12.
WARRANTY: 7 years/100,000 miles.
PRICE: £22,070.

• All data correct at time of publication.