Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage review

Driving
Manufacturer price from:£20,305
What Car? Target Price:£19,157
Search new deals
Review continues below...

In this review

Driving

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Kia Sportage 4x4 performance

We used to recommended going for the 114bhp 1.7-litre diesel engine with front-wheel drive, because it was gutsy enough while being affordable to buy and run. However, this has been replaced with a new 1.6-litre diesel unit, also with 114bhp, that we have yet to try.

While the 114bhp engine is only available with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, there’s a 134bhp version of the same engine you can choose with four-wheel drive and an automatic 'box. Once we’ve sampled both of these new 1.6 units, we’ll let you know what they are like.

If 134bhp is still a bit weak for your liking, there’s also a 2.0-litre diesel with 184bhp that comes as standard with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. Not only does it have the highest towing capacity (1900kg) of the Sportage range, but it also benefits from mild hybrid technology.

This improves fuel economy and emissions while helping to make the engine more flexible low in its rev range. And while the engine doesn’t feel as punchy as the 190 TDI of the Seat Ateca or Volkswagen Tiguan, it still pulls keenly from low engine speeds and is certainly fast enough for most people. We just wish it was a bit more responsive off the line; there’s a noticeable pause between putting your foot down and anything actually happening.

If you want petrol power, there’s a choice of two 1.6-litre engines. The cheapest comes exclusively with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, but it doesn't have a turbocharger. If that doesn't sound like an issue, we're afraid that it jolly well is; this engine has no guts, you see, and needs revving vigorously to get it to move with any urgency. And, even then, you wouldn’t want to carry out an overtake with a full load on board.

The more powerful turbocharged 1.6 T-GDi petrol is gutsier, especially at low revs, but it still needs revving harder than the diesels. You can have this engine with the standard six-speed manual or an optional seven-speed automatic gearbox. If you go for this engine, though, you’ll get four-wheel drive as standard. Performance is decent enough, but you have to work it harder than similarly powerful 2.0-litre petrols in rivals and it still isn’t as brisk.

Kia Sportage 4x4 ride

The Sportage has quite a sporty set-up compared to most of its rivals, and this does little for ride comfort. The car feels altogether firmer and choppier than others in the class, such as the Skoda Karoq and Nissan Qashqai. And although the ride is fairly planted on the motorway, it still fidgets at lower speeds.

The ride never becomes too jarring, but the Sportage is certainly less settled than you'd ideally want a family SUV to be, even on relatively small 17in wheels. We'd recommend avoiding the 19in wheels fitted to higher trims as these make the ride even more jiggly, especially around town.

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage 4x4 handling

There’s little need for a family SUV to be especially sharp to drive, but it’s no bad thing that the Sportage keeps its body lean neatly controlled through bends. It certainly stays more upright than the Qashqai or Renault Kadjar, and it grips well, too. However, the Karoq and Ateca are even more agile.

Sadly, the Sportage isn't much fun to drive quickly. The blame lies squarely with the steering, which doesn't tell you enough about what the front wheels are doing and feels decidedly leaden. To make matters worse, you’ll find yourself making loads of little corrections to keep it in a straight line on the motorway, too.

Kia Sportage 4x4 refinement

So far, the only diesel we can comment on is the 2.0-litre unit. Although it isn’t quite as refined as the equivalent engines in the Karoq and Ateca, it’s still smooth. At a cruise, it’s barely audible and only ever gets coarse above 3000rpm. The eight-speed automatic gearbox changes gear with little interruption and is responsive on the move.

The petrols are undoubtedly smoother than the diesels. However, they sound quite strained when you rev them, and that's something you'll need to do quite often, because even the turbocharged version feels a bit flat at low revs. At least you're relatively well isolated from road and wind noise, even if the Ateca is an even quieter cruiser. The manual gearbox is fine, but it has a longer throw and is less precise than those of the Ateca and Karoq.

open the gallery12 Images
Engines
There are 5 engines available for the Sportage 4x4. Click to see details.See all versions
1.6 GDi 130
The entry-level petrol engine needs working hard and isn’t very efficient. There are be...View engine
Fuel Petrol
GearboxManual
0-62 MPH11.1 secs
MPG39.8-39.8
What Car? Target Price from
£19,157
Average Saving £1,148
View Engine
1.6 CRDi 114
This replaces our favourite 1.7-litre diesel and is the most efficient motor in the ran...View engine
Fuel Diesel
GearboxManual
0-62 MPH11.4 secs
MPG57.6-57.6
What Car? Target Price from
£20,351
Average Saving £1,244
View Engine
1.6 CRDi 134
Essentially this is the 1.6-litre diesel with the wick turned up a little. It’s a littl...View engine
Fuel Diesel
GearboxManual, Auto
0-62 MPH10.8 secs
MPG54.3-58.9
What Car? Target Price from
£22,607
Average Saving £1,388
View Engine
1.6 T-GDi 174
Adding a turbo to the 1.6-litre petrol gives you a lot more punch, the option of four-w...View engine
Fuel Petrol
GearboxAuto, Manual
0-62 MPH8.8 secs
MPG36.2-37.7
What Car? Target Price from
£23,020
Average Saving £1,375
View Engine
2.0 CRDi 48v 182
The most expensive engine in the range uses mild hybrid technology to make it feel more...View engine
Fuel Diesel
GearboxManual, Auto
0-62 MPH9.2 secs
MPG48.7-48.7
What Car? Target Price from
£29,995
View Engine