It would be nice to report that when we returned the Sportage, it was in pristine condition. Sadly, we kerbed a couple of wheels and, a day or so before its return, it also collected a huge rock on its final motorway journey that meant Kia’s used car preparation people had to cope with a windscreen impact mark the size of a cricket ball. Still, at least the body was perfect, with no dents or scuffs. Some cars’ size and shape seem to protect them from blemishes, and in our experience the Sportage is one.
We encountered few real faults. A vulcanised seam of simulated stitches across the dashboard always grated, mostly because it was so at odds with the fine form and function of more important bits, especially switchgear. A Jaguar engineer told me last year how in Korea, product designers tended to create these small components in their own right, rather than car by car, which was why they were so good. The front seats were only okay, and the steering, once criticised for dullness at the straight ahead, now seemed a little oversensitive at speed. Not a long list.
We were always pleased with the KX-3 spec, which needed no extras. The white paint perfectly showed off the car’s lines. Our choice of the 134bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine turned out fine, too. At the last minute we discovered its peak torque was only 6% lower than that of the more expensive, less frugal 182bhp unit we nearly chose. The car was always flexible and as fast as we needed.
Bottom line? This was a useful, durable, thoroughly enjoyable SUV we were all very sorry to lose.
KIA SPORTAGE 2.0 CRDI 130 KX-3
Mileage at start 1065 Mileage at end 18,220
List price new £27,000 List price now £27,250 Price as tested £27,000 Dealer value now £22,000 Private value now £21,500 Trade value now £20,000
FUEL CONSUMPTION AND RANGE
Claimed economy 54.3mpg (combined) Fuel tank 62 litres Test average 42.2mpg Test best 46.0mpg Test worst 33.5mpg Real-world range 475 miles
0-62mph 10.1sec Top speed 114mph Engine 4 cyls, 1995cc, diesel Max power 134bhp at 2750-4000rpm Max torque 275lb ft at 1500-2500rpm Transmission 6-spd manual Boot 491-1480 litres Wheels 6.5Jx17in Tyres 225/60 R17 Kerb weight 1550kg