Competitive package that poses a serious threat to established rivals. New Kia era brings promise

What is it?

It’s the start of Kia’s new era. Er, again. After what seems like years of telling us how Audi TT designer Peter Schreyer was transforming its range, including models like the sharp three-door Cee’d, the Korean manufacturer is declaring this car, the new Sportage, to be the first wholly Schreyer Kia.

This particular Sportage – called First Edition – is like an advance party for the full line-up.

It’s available in five colours and with only one mechanical set-up: a 2.0-litre, common-rail diesel motor, producing 134bhp and 236lb ft, mated to a four-wheel drive system that spends the vast majority of its time driving only the front wheels, but offers a 50/50 lock for off-roading.

See the test pics of the Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi First Edition

You can choose the gearbox, mind; the six-speed manual driven here is standard, but there’s also a six-speed auto.

Future variants, due from November, will include a 1.6-litre, direct-injection petrol model, and a 1.7-litre turbodiesel, both with stop-start as standard and both available with front-wheel drive.

First Editions sit the wrong side of 20 grand, but they come pretty loaded; full leather, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a reversing camera built into the rear-view mirror, LED daytime running lights and 18in alloys are all standard.

What’s it like?

Rather good. Schreyer’s styling hasn’t really hurt interior space, because there’s easily room for four six-footers, plus luggage.

Some of the plastics are perhaps the shiny side of harsh – there are plenty of hard finishes up front – but the packaging is neat and everything looks hard-wearing. A family with three children could live with this car quite easily.

And they’d travel in comfort, because the Sportage’s chassis – tuned with assistance from Lotus in the UK – strikes an excellent balance between body control and comfort.

Think one notch off a Kuga’s agility, but one notch more compliant, and you’d have a good idea of the set-up.

Around pothole-strewn urban roads – where many Sportages will spend a lot of their time – the car refuses to let bumps and bangs through to the cabin.

That refinement continues on the motorway, where the Sportage’s motor offers decent torque at lazy revs – barely 1000rpm and up, in fact – but fades into the background once you’re cruising.

If anything, this car seems more refined at speed than its cousin, Hyundai’s iX35. Only a bit of tyre rumble intrudes – but that could be negated on smaller-wheeled variants.

The gearshift is slick and precise, throttle response is fine and the steering is generally pretty well weighted, albeit a little short of feel around the straight ahead. This is a minor glitch, though, in what feels a very well judged product.

Should I buy one?

We can see why you would; with a seven-year warranty thrown in, this is a very competitive package in the family SUV market that gives precious little away to established rivals on the driving front, and poses a serious threat on value and running costs. Kia’s new era brings fresh promise, then.

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John McIlroy

Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi First Edition

Price: £20,777; Top speed: 112mph; 0-60mph 10.9sec; Economy 47.1mpg; CO2 156g/km; Kerbweight 1754kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1995cc, turbodiesel; Power: 134bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 236lb ft at 1800-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

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jelly7961 26 July 2010

Re: Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi First Edition

Lee23404 wrote:

However, I do hope they've strengthened the roof...(see if you don't know what I'm talking about...).

Yes, I'd forgotten about that test. Hopefully Kia has moved on with safety (all round safety, not just NCAP) because that's very worrying.

The difference in strength between the VW and Kia is massive with the Tiguan able to easily withstand 4 times it's own weight on the corner of the roof. Very impressive.

I remember many years ago - more than 30 at a motor show somewhere a Mercedes 280E being suspended just by the door catch. That was impressive!
Dan McNeil v2 25 July 2010

Re: Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi First Edition

Sapphire and Steel wrote:
Dan, may I ask what the v2 in your name is for?
Yes, you may.

Uncle Mellow 25 July 2010

Re: Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi First Edition

I know it's unwise to criticise the styling before I have seen one in the metal , but that 'C' pillar is just terrible. The last Sportage looked OK for an SUV.