Kia Sportage


          Here’s a question for you: Which car brand do you think, this year to date, is the UK’s best-selling? Ford perhaps? What about Vauxhall? Hang on! Surely, it’s Volkswagen. Or is it Toyota?

 The answer is Kia.

    Without going too “Financial Times” on you. The first quarter of 2022 began with Kia’s rather successful January, in which they sold 10,504 cars; sales of another 3,795 followed in February. The new 22-plate change at the start of the March, and the launch of their all-new Sportage, continued Kia’s success. Kia’s sales in March grew by 58 per cent year-on-year, in a car market that declined by 14 per cent.

   Those sales across that first quarter were helped in no small measure by Sportage.  It was the best-selling Compact SUV, as well as being the third best-selling car of any make for both March and YTD, racking-up 4,563 and 8,697 sales respectively. Also, the out-going Sportage was Kia’s best-selling car worldwide and, the UK’s ninth most popular new car in 2021. Impressive! Kia, eh? That one-time Korean budget brand. Would have thought…

    Based on such things, not to mention the now fifth-generation Sportage’s altogether more striking new look – sharper creases that echo those of their all-electric EV6, funky boomerang LED daytime running lamps, and a distinctly more European and premium appearance overall - I thought it was high-time the Sportage and I got reacquainted.

     You do have to wonder if the reason the Sportage has sold so well is because Kia offer its prospective buyers so much choice. Petrol, Diesel, mild-hybrid, full-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive; from a frugal(ish) 113 bhp to a swifter 226bhp, Kia offer them all, plus manual, automatic, and DCT gearboxes too. Then, of course, there are the different trim levels; the range starts at the entry-level ‘2’ and includes ‘GT-Line’, ‘3’, ‘and 4’ before topping-out with the fully-loaded ‘GT-Line S’. Prices start at £20,085 and rise to £34,765 - before you start adding options that is. Nevertheless, all Sportages get a rear-view camera plus front and rear parking sensors as standard, as well as automatic LED headlamps, auto wipers, and the now all-important Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

   “My” Sportage came in mid-range ‘3’ spec, and thus benefited from a larger 12.3in digital instrument cluster (‘2’ spec Sportages don’t get digital dials). Together with the faux-leather seats – heated both front and rear no less – the heated steering wheel, and the oodles of space, the brilliantly clear and logically laid out display certainly adds a very welcome new sense of sophistication. When the touch-sensitive panel beneath the screen isn’t performing air-con controlling duties, it also provides shortcuts, thus enabling you switch between sat-nav, radio and other functions. It really does all feel rather clever – even if some of the plastics lower down in the cabin don’t. Other nice cabin additions are 40/20/40 split folding and reclining rear seats, USB ports mounted in the rear of the electrically adjustable front seats, and proper metal (as opposed to metallised-looking plastic) door handles. Sometimes it’s the little things… Which also brings me to the question: Why Kia did you put the parking brake where I’d have put the Start button?

     Despite what its name and sharper styling suggest, the Sportage is set-up for comfort first, rather than anything… err… well… sporty. The steering is definitely on the light side and offers little of anything that could be considered as actual feel, and the ride has been set-up for long motorway cruises rather than B-road blasts. That said, the odd thump from rough road surfaces aside, refinement is excellent. Just don’t expect to be entertained.

    Perhaps part of that is down to the 1.6 litre turbo-charged petrol engine’s somewhat modest performance; 0-62 mph takes 9.9 seconds. Presumably the higher specced hybrids are more fleet of foot. The six-speed manual gearbox (you’ll need at least a ‘4’ spec Sportage to get an auto) has a pleasant shift action tough, and you should see the best part of 40mpg on a good run.

     So, the Sportage isn’t sporty. No real surprises there. What it is, is an even more well-judged and refined version of an already best-seller from a brand that continues to push itself ever more towards being – or at least feeling – premium. Quite whether the Kia badge will have the necessary kudos come trade-in time remains to be seen. Nevertheless, spec your Sportage wisely and you’ll find yourself in a very accomplished car.




Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi “3” MT F


Engine: 1,598cc 4Cyl, 16V turbo-charged, petrol.

Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive.

Power:  148bhp @ 5,500pm

Torque: 185lb-ft. @1,500 – 4,000 rpm

0-62 MPH: 9.9 Sec

Max Speed: 113 mph

CO2: 154 g/km

MPG: 41.5 (WLTP combined)

Price: from £30,975 (on the road)


Many thanks to Chloe and Niamh, at KIA’s UK press office for the loan of the Sportage



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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