Kia Sportage - 1.6ltr T-GDi 'GT-Line'

What is it?

The Sportage is the vehicle that helped bring the Kia brand to a wider audience in the UK, and for a good reason too, it offered style and great value, and of course Kia's industry leading 7-year warranty.  

It’s an important car for Kia as it accounts for nearly a third (29%) of all Kias sold in the UK.  Launched in 2010, the third generation Sportage sold over 96,000 in Europe during 2014, and nearly as many were sold in the UK over the six-year on-sale period.  This is a testament to its designer, ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer who, incidentally, also had a hand in styling the new model.

So as I said, it’s an important car, is the new 4th generation Sportage worthy successor?  Let’s see…

On road

As you can read here, early last year Kia invited me over to France for its official launch during which I ‘only’ got to drive it around the twisty mountain roads above Nice. However, it’s always better to borrow one for a week or so to get a better idea of what they’re like to live with - which is exactly what we did here. 

The ride, I thought, was nice and firm, yet comfortable, if that makes sense.  The new electric steering set-up is quick and offers you plenty of feedback, which is great when you’re having a bit of fun on twisty lanes.  The suspension and new chassis really do work well together, in fact, all combined, the Kia Sportage is a fun 4x4 to drive, that also feels safe, and in my opinion is up there with the best in its segment. 

I suppose it’s worth mentioning again that I was driving the AWD GT-Line fitted with the 1.6ltr petrol, 6-speed manual with 174bhp on tap, so it’s bound to feel sporty and agile.

Off road

I suppose using the heading 'Off-Road' can be a little misleading as all the photos here are on actual roads.  Anyway, technicalities aside, the Sportage was sure-footed no matter where I took it, and if you click here - A Trip To Goosnargh - you can read about the only time I had to use the 'Lock' button that engages a 50/50 split in drive.  Spoiler alert - Muddy Madam lost forward motion in a smelly pool of mud and water, but after a bit of to’ing and fro’ing with the 4x4 Lock button pressed, we reversed out without a single scratch.

Like the majority of modern 4x4’s these days, the system is controlled by electrics and the Sportage spends most of its time in front-wheel-drive, only sending 40% of it to the rear wheels when required.  I would have liked to have challenged the Sportage more at a 4x4 site just to see what it was capable of, but time wasn't on my side, besides, up to its sills in mud isn't the Sportage's natural habitat.

Interior

One thing I remembered from the launch in France was the quality of the interior, not just the feel, but the sound too.  I specifically remember how the doors felt weighty and closed with a reassuring clunk.

The seats are comfortable, the dash layout is nice to look at with soft-touch plastics, and everything’s where it should be with proper knobs and switches.  I especially appreciated that Kia had fitted the USB and other sockets in front of the gear stick in easy view and reach, too many manufactures are still hiding them in the back of the centre cubby box.  Take note Volvo!

Back seat passengers have it good also, with plenty of knee space for us big ‘uns and seat backs that recline - which is nice.  Further back, the boot space is average but the boot lip is low allowing for heavy and awkward items to be loaded and unloaded with relative ease.

If I’m going to be negative, my only problem with the interior was that the centre cubby box is too far forward, I had to bend my wrist awkwardly to use handbrake, if it was shorter or handbrake longer it would be better.  Perhaps it’s my fault for having gorilla arms!

Engines 'n' transmissions

You have a choice of four engines; two 1.6 petrols (natural and turbocharged), a 1.7 diesel and a 2.0 diesel with two power outputs (134 & 182bhp). Gearbox wise there's a choice of three: a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic and a seven-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, aka 7DCT.  

Petrol:
1.6 GDi, 6-speed manual: 130bhp, 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds, max speed of 113mph, combined 42.2mpg, CO2g/km 156
1.6 DGi, 6-speed manual with ISG: 130bhp, 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds, max speed of 113mph, combined 44.8mpg, CO2g/km 147
1.6 T-DGi, 6-speed manual: 174bhp, 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds, max speed of 126mph, combined 37.2mpg, CO2g/km 1771.6
1.6 T-DGi, 7DCT: 174bhp, 0-60mph in 8.8 seconds, max speed of 125mph, combined 37.7mpg, CO2g/km 175

Diesel:
1.7 CRDi, 6-speed manual with ISG: 114bhp, 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds, max speed of 109mph, combined 61.4mpg, CO2g/km 119
2.0 CRDi 6-speed manual with ISG: 134bhp, 0-60mph in 10.1 seconds, max speed of 114mph, combined 47.9mpg, CO2g/km 139
2.0 CRDi 6-speed auto: 134bhp, 0-60mph in 11.6 seconds, max speed of 114mph, combined 47.9mpg, CO2g/km 154
2.0 CRDi 6-speed manual: 182bhp, 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds, max speed of 125mph, combined 47.9mpg, CO2g/km 154
2.0 CRDi 6-speed auto: 182bhp, 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds, max speed of 125mph, combined 44.8mpg, CO2g/km 166

Conclusion

In this segment, I have to say that the 2016 Sportage is my second favourite 4x4, well, it comes joint first, it shares the pedestal with Mazda’s CX-5.  The problem is, the Mazda is more enjoyable when you want to have fun on twisty roads, but with its new platform and electric steering the Sportage is no slouch, and it does have the 7-year warranty, which is important.

Since it was introduced I’ve recommended the new, and old Sportage to family, friends and colleagues, most of whom have gone out and bought one - none have been disappointed.  Would I have one?  Possibly, though it would be a difficult decision between it and the CX-5, but in truth, I think the 7-year warranty might swing it.