The third generation Kia Sportage has arrived and it competes in the expanding crossover market with Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Ford Kuga, Skoda Yeti VW Tiguan and Hyundai iX35. Powered by a 1.7 litre turbo diesel motor the Sportage is availble in three different trim levels and is listed as a 2WD only.
Longer, lower and wider than the model it replaces, it also weighs some 90 kgs less. The outgoing Sportage model was very significant seller since its arrival seven years ago, and it was a major player in establishing the Kia brand in Ireland. The new Sportage with it’s sleek design and improved CO2 and fuel economy will appeal to both existing SUV owners but also to customers looking for a crossover alternative.
The Sportage is now wrapped in edgy, look-at-me styling that Kia hopes will succeed in attracting many buyers. The styling asserts its intentions loud and clear. The new model’s proportions are as dramatic as the outgoing model’s weren’t, and few curves are found on its sheetmetal. The body elements—including its angular headlamps, intricate taillamps, “tabbed” upper grille, flared lower grille, and chopped window shapes—all contribute to a beefy, high-tech appearance. Springing for the top-dog EX model yields a thin, Audi A5–esque strip of LED daytime running lights in the headlamps, a first for nonluxury crossover and indicative of the Sportage’s modernization.
The interior is a big improvement compared with its predecessor. Although most surfaces are rendered in the hard plastics that are unavoidable in anything at this price point, the low-gloss finishes and beveled, masculine shapes help give the materials an upscale look. The deeply tunneled gauges are easy to read, and aesthetic to behold.
ON THE ROAD
The 1.7litre engine develops 114 BHP and 188 lb/ft of torque. Acceleration to 100km takes 11.9 seconds and the top speed is 174 km/h (109 mph). This performance is quite adequate for modern driving, with speed limits and cameras around every corner. Fuel consumption is 5.19L/100km (54.3mpg) combined and the emissions are 135gm/km which means band B and E156 road tax.
The car has fully independent suspension front and rear with the. Steering is via an electric system which adjusts the level of assistance according to speed. The result is a car that gives loads of driving pleasure on Irish roads.
FOR THE VET
Prices for the Sportage start at E25,600 for the LX, E27,800 for the EX and E29,900 for the GSE. My test car was the EX and it has a long list of standard equipment such as cruise control, air con, full sized spare, panoramic sun roof, and 17” alloy wheels. The LX comes with 16” wheels which should give a more composed ride on the worst of Irish tarmac conditions.
It has 2 wheel drive (front) and will not have the mud-plugging ability of a four wheel drive car. However , the 2WD versionwill get through most gaps and wet fields thanks to the grip from the front wheel drive and the ample ground clearance. If one is towing a horse box, the 4X4 is a better proposition for towing stability and better traction when towing from a muddy paddock. There is a roomy boot which should accommodate most if not all of the veterinary paraphernalia. While the old Sportage was a popular choice in commercial format, it is unlikely at this time if a commercial version of the new model will be available.
Hyundai-Kia is currently the world’s fourth biggest carmaker after
Toyota, VW and GM. The Sportage is built alongside the Hyundai iX35 in Kia’s ultra modern Zilina plant in Slovakia. While the vehicles share numerous components, the Sportage comes with Kia’s superior standard seven-year warranty. Stylish and well equipped the Sportage is a genuine performer and deserves to be shortlisted by any buyer in this market, or those forced to downsize from a big 4X4 because of the increasing cost of diesel.