2014 Kia Sportage review
* Face-lifted Kia Sportage driven in UK * Revised styling, more equipment, softer suspension * On sale now, priced from £17,495...
The Kia Sportage is the Korean firm's best-seller in the UK, so to make sure it stays that way, Kia has chosen to avoid any radical changes for its face-lifted Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti rival.
The most obvious changes are to the Sportage’s design, and include a new grille and alloy wheel designs. Inside, it also gets a higher-quality dashboard that looks and feels better than before, plus extra equipment. Underneath, Kia has worked to improve ride quality by softening the suspension.
Buyers get even more choice, too, because while the line-up remains the same, there’s now the option of the low-powered 2.0-litre diesel in entry-level 1 trim, and the 1.7 diesel as a range-topping 4 model.
What’s the 2014 Kia Sportage like to drive?
We tried the best-selling two-wheel drive 114bhp 1.7-litre diesel model. This engine pulls strongly from around 1200rpm, and feels brisk in town, but ask it to catch up with motorway traffic and it starts to feel breathless and gruff; it's certainly not as flexible as the 1.6-litre diesel in the Nissan Qashqai.
However, the Sportage's engine is reasonably refined, sending only slight vibrations through the steering wheel and pedals and only becoming loud and intrusive when pushed high into its rev range.
The Kia's handling can't match rivals such as the Skoda Yeti, either. There's considerable body roll in tight corners and despite being able to choose between three different settings for the steering, none of them provide the same level of precision as the more agile Skoda.
Kickback through the wheels over mid-corner bumps is another problem, the direct result of the Sportage's softer ride. Our test car, on the largest 18-inch alloy wheels, thudded over potholes, and there's a constant fidget on faster, uneven roads too.
On the plus side, a new thicker windscreen has been developed for this face-lifted model, and from the cabin there's very little wind noise to be heard. Road noise is a constant companion, though.
What’s the 2014 Kia Sportage like inside?
A wide range of reach and rake wheel adjustment and manual seat adjustment means the majority of drivers will find a comfortable driving position, and taller front passengers won't struggle for room. That said, they might find the front seats feel rather flat, with little support on longer journeys.
Kia has upgraded the Sportage's dashboard materials as part of the face-lift, and it's a genuine improvement: there's plenty dense, soft-touch plastics that look and feel good quality. Our car was also fitted with a new optional seven-inch touch-screen navigation system.
It's easy to get to grips with thanks to large shortcut buttons and logical, clear menus, so you can find what you want quickly and it's not too distracting to use while driving.
Rear legroom is some way behind a Nissan Qashqai's, so children will be fine but adults will find their knees resting against the front seats. Headroom is also tight, especially if you opt for a Sportage with a panoramic glass roof, which eats into the available space.
The 564-litre boot capacity figure suggests that the boot is huge, but in reality it’s no bigger than a small family hatchback’s. Fold the rear seats to extend it, and they lie at a steep angle, rather than perfectly flat.
KX2 models remain the best value, and come with Bluetooth, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, auto wipers, climate control, rear parking sensors and a panoramic glass roof. Spend a bit more and you can have luxuries like a reversing camera, and brighter xenon headlights.
Should I buy one?
The revised Sportage offers a quality interior and the tough looks that small SUV buyers are looking for, but in truth, it remains average when compared with the best in this competitive class.
The Yeti and Qashqai are both more spacious and practical, better to drive, more comfortable and more refined. Running a Sportage is likely to cost you more, too, because its engines have higher CO2 emissions and are less frugal.
These rivals are also cheaper, as a 1.7 diesel '2' Sportage costs £21,195, which is £1590 more than the equivalent 2.0 diesel Yeti in SE trim and £350 more than a 1.5 diesel Acenta Qashqai.
What Car? says…
Kia Sportage 1.6 GDi Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
Price from £17,495Power 133bhp
Torque 122lb ft
Top speed 111mph
Fuel economy 44.1mpg
Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi
Engine size 1.7-litre diesel
Price from £19,095
Torque 192lb ft
Top speed 107mph
Fuel economy 54.3mpg
Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £21,495
Torque 236lb ft
Top speed 112mph
Fuel economy 49.6mpg
Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £28,195
Torque 282lb ft
Top speed 120mph
Fuel economy 46.3mpg