Korean maker Kia announced high expectations for its performance in the European market at Paris. It wants 400,000 sales across an expanded EU by 2008. One of the cars that should help it towards the target is the new Sportage SUV. A compact five-door machine in the style of the Land Rover Freelander, it should cost from just under £15,000 with a 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and around £18,500 for the range-topping 173bhp V6 version. The most popular model is likely to be the 110bhp 2.0-litre common-rail turbodiesel. The car can be ordered with either part-time four-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.
Although hardly lavish inside, the Sportage’s interior is neat enough and seems very solidly built. Kia says it expects a four-star NCAP crash-test rating. The firm also displayed a five-door ‘sport concept car’ (right) at Paris. Insiders say that it was actually a thinly disguised version of next year’s Rio replacement.