Kia Sportage First Edition Road Test (2016)

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Since Kia introduced their new Sportage back at the beginning of the year, they now find themselves in an enviable position. Projecting a yearly sales figure of around 16,000, just over halfway into the twelve month period 28,000 are now on the road. And whilst the Sportage has always been Kia’s best selling vehicle in the UK, sales figures have now eclipsed even their expectations. An additional and unexplained fact is that the new Sportage has also become the number one selling SUV in Essex, the county’s delightful young ladies unable to get enough of them or so it seems.


Now in its fourth generation, each successive model has moved the Sportage forwards in a positive manner, the up to date European styling combined with an ever improving build quality now giving Kia and the Sportage in particular a quality of built now in excess of buyers expectations. Equally, the new Sportage brings with it eighteen variations based around AWD or 2WD, four engine choices, three transmissions and six trim levels. The one determining factor is that the AWD variants are only come with the 2-litre diesel engine.


Externally, Kia’s new Sportage has more or less retained the profile of the model it replaces. The most notable changes are the chromed outer diamond mesh Tiger-Nose grille, more elongated and stylized headlight clusters that compliment the narrower more distinctive rear light and reflector treatment. Apart from that the new model retains the familiar four-door, full depth power tailgate outline, high shoulder line and rounded countenance that ensures it remains one of the visually least aggressive SUV’s on the road.



As tested the ‘First Edition’ Sportage follows Kia’s recognizable path of bringing in a mildly unique initial run version that features an upgraded trim level and external detailing although in most other respects it’s a subtle combination of the KX-4 and GT-Line models. Likewise and as the name would suggest, there’s a finite number of these particular models so availability can be limited.


Whilst the 2WD versions can be had on smaller rims, the AWD models sit on 19” multi-spoke alloys shod with 245/45 road orientated tyres, the whole sat on MacPherson Strut, coil and standard shock absorber suspension at the front, multi-link to the rear. And whilst most owners of AWD models won’t venture off-road on a regular basis, the improved ride height, supple suspension and larger wheels means the more adventurous Sportage is ready prepared should more demanding needs arise.


Kia’s now obvious attention to detail and quality makes its presence far more obvious inside the cabin. Padded, soft touch textured surfaces and leather detailing now cover the dash and doors whilst perforated leather trims the seating. Similarly, a fully adjustable leather clad sports multi-function steering wheel sits in front of the clear instrumentation binnacle complete with the vehicle’s detailed onboard readouts.


Logically laid out with switchgear centrally grouped below the 8” infotainment and satnav screen, all controls fall easily to hand, operation of which requiring no more than gentle pressure from the driver or front passenger’s fingers. The new model offers an upgraded eight speaker JBL sound system that draws from a USB stick or similar whilst the overall feel of the interior has been improved with increased head, shoulder and leg room. The improved use of space also includes a rear seat’s up luggage space of 503 litres, 1,492 litres with the rear seats folded complimented by a maximum towing capacity of 1,400kg.  


All 4-cylinder, transversely mounted, under the newly contoured bonnet customers can select from three varying output 1.6-litre petrol engines all with manual transmissions, a single manual gearbox 1.7-litre diesel and four 2.0-litre diesels with both manual and automatic options. Common sense dictates that the petrol versions are best suited to those who cover smaller mileage yet require SUV practicality whilst the sole 2WD 1.7 diesel fitted with the smaller 17” diameter wheels is without question the most economical. In respect of the 2.0-litre diesels the options are the 134hp versions with both type of transmissions or the 182hp once again with both shift choices.


As tested the 182hp diesel mated to the 6-speed auto with sequential setting and automated AWD returned an average, moderately acceptable consumption of 38.1mpg over 427 varied miles with a motorway best of 41.2mpg. On these varied figures it’s therefore safe to assume a range of 450 miles per 62 litre tank of fuel, a slightly better than average range for this type of vehicle.


Kia’s revision of the Sportage has resulted in an SUV that’s even easier and more relaxing to drive than before. The all round view from behind the wheel is unobstructed, whilst in normal setting the power steering is well weighted, the three turns lock to lock and 5.3 meter turning circle easy to apply and attain, front and rear sensors and reversing camera complimenting the Kia’s maneuverability. Complete with heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel and an efficient air conditioning system, Kia’s new Sportage is a pleasant environment in which to spend time over both short and extended periods.


When needed application of the ‘Sport’ mode noticeably sharpens engine and throttle response whilst the AWD lock sets the 4x4 system into the permanent off-road setting. On the road the Sportage is neutral and undemanding only overly enthusiastic cornering hinting at understeer, the new suspension significantly reducing body roll. Off-road with the correct setting applied, with forward planning and a realization that the Sportage isn’t a hardcore 4x4, the Kia is still remarkably capable and able to haul itself and occupants to far more remote locations than would be at first assumed. And as with all vehicles of this type, more aggressive tyres would as always significantly improve the Sportage’s off-road abilities.


As with all Kia’s all new Sportage come complete with Kia’s 7-year warranty along with a competitive pricing and leasing plans. The entry level 1.6 GDi ‘1’ manual petrol will set you back £18,000 rising to £30,715 for the 182hp AWD 2.0-litre ‘KX-4’ and £31,645 for the ‘First Edition’ seen here. And as usual with all Kia vehicles, unless you simply must own or drive one of ‘the badges’, Kia’s new Sportage is at least the equal of its supposedly more illustrious competition and in most cases far more capable and far better value for money.                 


By; Mark Stone




Kia Sportage 1st Edition Road Test