Recently we reviewed the latest Kia Sorento and it was more than impressive with pricing and specification very favorable in the seven seat SUV category but what impressed most was the quality.
Kia has most certainly come a very long way in regards to their build quality overall and also the products used in the cabin so when chatting with the staff at Downey’s Cars Newtownard’s reference getting the all new Sportage for a weekend review for the blog, I was quite excited to see if it fulfilled the high standards set by the Sorento.
I have spent a little time in the outgoing Sportage and I will admit, it was a nice place to be, however over time, started to look a little dated and with styles and technology within the automotive industry moving so fast, this all new model has been timed perfectly.
On arrival at Downey’s I was greeted by this lovely metallic silver Sportage sitting in the forecourt and after a quick introduction to the car I set off for a busy enough weekend on the road.
First impressions of the new Sportage were positive, it is a fresh looking vehicle with three funky looking DRL LED’s in the middle of each front light cluster, quite a trademark thing for the Sportage and most certainly thinking outside the box from Kia.
The open mouth grill is something that a lot of manufacturers seem to be implementing in recent years and this Kia is no exception and the open mouth front end looks great.
Around the back there is a pretty large spoiler with black side blades on the rear glass which suits the car perfectly and gives it the sports look, whilst mentioning the glass, this Sportage comes from the factory with rear privacy glass. Overall this Kia looks a lot smaller in person and on the road than it actually is and its styling makes it deceptive in true size.
Opening the tailgate revealed a decent sized boot offering plenty of room and with a removable floor; expandable height is a very usable feature of the vehicle, combined with split fold rear seats offering enough room to swallow a trip to a well known Swedish home ware store more than possible.
Inside the Sportage was lovely and instantly noticeable were the heated, perforated leather seats front and rear with the outer most rear seats even being heated. White stitching and white piping around the upholstery was a nice touch and the seats, both front and rear were very comfortable. For me personally a little more bolster support would have been welcomed.
The dash layout was perfect and despite having what seemed like a lot of buttons, it was very quick and easy to see get used to all of the controls whereby they no longer confused me, nor looked like a mass of switches.
The rear of the Sportage offered plenty of leg and head room and would be ideal for family life with very young children right up to providing comfort and safety for teenagers and adult alike, even on a longer journey.
Infotainment is something that pretty much all cars come with in abundance as standard these days and this Sportage was set to keep that trend alive and kicking with DAB Radio, Aux input, USB input, Bluetooth etc as well as Sat Nav, all usable via the generous 8″ screen.
Within the speedometer cluster in the dash is another screen, this time a 4.2″ one which is full colour and will help guide you with sat nav instructions as well as giving plenty of car data and great integration with the infotainment system.
Sound quality was fantastic and was provided via a JBL premium audio system as standard on this spec level car which is a “Sportage 3 Sat Nav” while the quality is aided with a front centre speaker, amplifier and even a sub-woofer.
Engine wise there are enough options with the new Kia Sportage with two petrol’s on offer, a 1.6 GDi 130bhp engine which is available on the two entry level cars and comes only with a six speed manual gearbox whilst on the range topping GT-Line Sportage you can choose the 1.6 T-GDi petrol engine with either a six speed manual or seven speed DCT auto, both of which produce a healthy 174bhp and both are mated to an all wheel drive system.
Kia have a few more options for the diesel owner with the 1.7 CRDi available on the Sportage 1,2,3,4 models producing 114bhp with only a six speed manual gearbox. This is the engine that was on the model tested and over a hundred or so miles of mixed driving was returning a very sensible mid forties mpg. It pulled well and would certainly fulfill most owners’ requirements.
Personally for me though, as a driver who would do large miles on very mixed roads, I would opt for one of the two 2.0 diesel engines available, firstly there is a 134bhp model equipped with a six speed manual which is available in the Sportage 1,2,3 models with the latter two having a six speed auto option.
This engine is also available on the GT-Line Sportage with all wheel drive and in manual or automatic transmission format. The other diesel engine is an 182bhp variant and is available in manual or automatic on the Sportage 4 range with the Sportage First Edition getting this engine with an automatic gearbox only.
When driving, the Kia Sportage is very smooth indeed despite the larger than life nineteen inch alloy wheels and although the steering was a little too light for my personal taste it handled well with minimal roll and was pleasant to drive and felt more than safe no matter what roads I took it along.
With pricing for this test model coming in around the mid £20k mark it is certainly a great value for money SUV, capable of carrying 5 people with comfort as well as a couple of dogs in the boot, a pram or a weeks luggage for a family with enough room left to squeeze a dachshund on top of it all.
Personally I would own the new Sportage sooner than the likes of the new Hyundai Tucson (a review of which is coming soon) as I feel the Sportage is a better looking vehicle and a nicer place to be inside with a slightly better driving experience.
In saying that though, if Downey’s in Newtownards were going to be getting my hard earned (and after my experience with them thus far as a dealership, I’d be happy to do a deal with them), the new Kia Sorento is what I would opt for due to that extra space inside as well as the chunkier exterior.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry