The 1.6 T-GDi petrol engine comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. The combination gives respectably brisk performance, with 0-60mph taking a claimed 9.2sec and a top speed of 126mph achievable with a long enough stretch of road.
You can opt for a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox for a £1300 premium but one thing you can’t have is front-wheel drive, because this engine only comes with all of its wheels driven. Up to 40% of the engine’s torque can be shuffled to the back axle, although there’s a 4WD lock mode that splits torque 50/50.
Performance may seem decent enough on paper but in the real world the 1.6 T-GDi feels more pedestrian. Those figures are believable but require you to explore the upper reaches of the rev range.
The manual gearbox is precise but long of throw and the Sportage's handling doesn’t really encourage enthusiastic cornering. There’s plenty of grip from the sizable tyres fitted to standard 19in wheels but there’s also a fair bit of body roll, while the steering is accurate but doesn’t exactly bristle with feedback.
Overall then, it’s safe, secure and grippy. Exactly what you’d want from a family-friendly SUV, then, but certainly not a cut-price Porsche Macan in the handling department.
Step inside and you’re treated to an interior that is both easy on the eye and built with plenty of pleasing plastics. The top of the dash and doors are both hewn from squishy materials and all controls work in a precise manner.
Look below the level of the steering wheel and there are harder plastics that are less well finished. However, considering the Sportage is considerably cheaper than rivals from Toyota and Honda, it's a cost-cutting exercise that's easy to forgive.
All bar entry-level ‘1’-spec models get sat-nav, while our GT-Line model receives 7.0in display as part of the touchscreen infotainment system. It may not be the most visually stunning screen on the market, but it’s clear, easy to navigate and free from lag.
Rear seat passengers are also unlikely to have any complaints. Even with a six-foot-tall driver, there’s a generous amount of leg room and head room. Furthermore, the boot is a multiple-suitcase swallowing 491 litres with the rear seats in place.