A fact before we start: Kia now commands three per cent of the UK’s 4x4 market. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but Jeep has only a two per cent slice. It’s evidence that the Korean brand is shaking off its old budget-car stigma at an impressively rapid rate – especially where off-roaders are concerned, with its successful Sorento.
Market share, though, is hardly a rationale for allying yourself to a product or brand – so Kia is hoping the new Sportage will tickle the taste buds of small SUV enthusiasts.
With a price tag starting at about £14,500 and plentiful standard kit, the Sportage is certainly in the sweet spot to provide a better-value alternative to the Land Rover Freelander, Toyota RAV4 and even sister company Hyundai’s new Tucson, with which it shares a monocoque platform and some behind-the-scenes mechanicals.
Visually, the Sportage has no links to the Tucson, though like that car it can’t teach rivals anything about eye-catching looks. Still it’s a tidy piece of work in the metal, with some nicely restrained off-roader cues, especially when viewed from the rear three- quarters. And we’ll be charitable enough to say the similarity of the rear to the Volvo XC90’s is just coincidence.