The Kia Sportage enjoys success on the Belgian market since 2004. The second generation carried on the same wave, being quite instantly a strong contender in the relatively affordable compact SUV class. The high driving position, easily- accessed interior, complete equipment and relatively sober engines quickly seduced knowledgable punters.
Over the years, things moved on and Korean cars prices have largely caught up with those of comparable European models. However, as quality and the standard equipment list are always better than its rivals’, Kia continues to grow its market share. Now, the brand can even boasts a nice and contemporary design. Far more attractive than some of its European competitors that are much blander. In any case, we appreciate the V-shaped front and rear lights, the rising line of the body side panels and the floating effect black roof. Unfortunately, the latter was toned down by our test car black color. The interior of the top-of-the-range model we tested is quite classy and even won the heart of an employee of a prestigious Italian brand.
I like it
Indeed, the Kia Sportage feels good. The driving position is perfect and it’s clear Kia wants to compete with premium brands. The materials are good quality ones and fit and finish qre up there with the best. The quilted leather seats are nicely designed and inviting. Finally, the dashboard is rather well laid out and its design very pleasing as well. Of course, the unavoidable screens and digital dials are there but the Kia Sportage still has multi-function switches to control the air con and audio system. This is a bit confusing at first, but eventually you end up managing these more easily than the touch screen ones.
Even though we’re not SUV fans, the Kia Sportage is one of last year’s pleasant surprises. Of course, this plug-in hybrid version is the most powerful (265 HP) and expensive one in the range but beyond its real world performance- which is less impressive than the quoted figures- it is the daily driving experience that is rather pleasing and enjoyable. As we said, the interior is a pleasant cocoon and comfort is excellent. Whether it’s the soundproofing or the suspension set up that’s never being too firm, the passengers are really pampered. The car was developped in Europe and that surely explains why it’s so good on our roads.
I don’t like it
Money matters and hurts : our test car costs €47,690. OK, it’s the top of the range one and for that money you get the most luxurious and kitted out version. Its substantial mass (1,905 kg) won’t please dynamic driving enthusiasts in the least, even thoug the Sportage is far from being the worst in class.
Why I buy it
The Kia Sportage is a real success, it has just been awarded the best family SUV class win by the readers of the prestigious What Car ? British magazine. It’s comfortable and nicely finished while its pleasing design will seduce many families. This heavy and expensive PHEV Sportage is a bit at odds with the rest of the range. There is a 115 bhp diesel with a manual 6 speed gearbox entry version retailing at € 34.490 while a 136 bhp version fitted with an auto 7 speed gearbox is yours for 39.690€. In our opinion, this is the best option for a private buyer averaging more than 12,500 km a year. There is also a Pure trim 1.6 T-GDi 150 bhp petrol engined car offered at €32,690. Let’s not forget the 7 year warranty, one of Kia’s strongest assets.
Why I don’t buy it
As mentioned above, this PHEV version is expensive and heavy… it will only appeal to company car drivers, until the fiscal laws are changed next Summer. Unfortunately, during our 477 km test drive, we didn’t have the opportunity to recharge it. Which means we drove it constantly using the internal combustion engine… fuel consumption averaged 8.2 l/100 km but the last 135 motorway km were covered sticking to spped limits and we managed 6.0 l/100. PHEVs should be recharged as often as possible in order to take full advantage of its technology and efficiency. Employers are becoming more and more demanding and watching out what their employees are doing with such cars. Could we say they are doing wrong in that respect ? (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)