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.
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.