Best non-electric car

Don’t want a car that needs plugging in? Well, worry not: there are lots of really talented models to choose from. And here we count down the 50 best...

Kia Sportage front static

Here we are – the number one car that you don't need to plug in. We've seen some marvellous models in our top 50 rundown so far, but our winner offers a truly special package of talents.

1. Kia Sportage

Our reigning Family SUV of the Year is also our top pick for those who aren’t ready to switch to plug-in power

Our pick 1.6 T-GDi 3 List price £32,560 Target Price £30,846 Target PCP £366 Engine 4cyl, 1598cc, turbo, petrol Gearbox 6-spd manual 0-62mph 8.5sec Top speed 113mph MPG 41.5 CO2 154g/km

Sometimes it’s the cars that stick to a tried and tested formula, rather than trying to break a mould or change the world, that make the most sense. The Kia Sportage is a classic case in point.

This is a conventional front-wheel-drive family SUV, much the same in concept as the class-defining original Nissan Qashqai that was launched more than 15 years ago. The version we’re recommending here doesn’t even have any electrical assistance for its petrol engine, and you have to change gear yourself. But here’s the thing: if you’re not yet ready to buy an electric car, you’re often best off keeping things simple.

Kia Sportage rear cornering

Why? Well, for one thing, the regular 1.6-litre petrol version of the Sportage is £1700 cheaper than the mild hybrid equivalent, £3750 cheaper than the full hybrid and undercuts the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version by a whopping £8900. Unless you’re a company car driver and can take advantage of benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax breaks, you’ll need to do a ridiculous number of miles before any of the hybrid versions would break even.

That’s partly because the cheapest Sportage is surprisingly thrifty on fuel, averaging 40.2mpg in our real-world True MPG tests. That economy doesn’t even come at the expense of performance; its 148bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre engine can haul the Sportage from a standstill to 60mph in 8.5sec (when you need it to).

The Sportage impresses in other ways, thanks to its peaceful cruising manners and largely comfortable ride. It’s no hot hatch through corners, but it’s more agile than you’d probably expect; there’s some body lean, of course (it’s a fairly tall SUV), but it has plenty of grip and its steering gives you the confidence to tackle fast country roads just as easily as narrow urban back streets.

Kia Sportage dashboard

But why is the Sportage a better buy than similar-priced family SUVs from other brands? Cars like the Hyundai Tucson or Skoda Karoq? Well, both of those alternatives are in our top 50 and have many virtues, but the Sportage is just that bit more rounded. It has roomier rear seats than the Karoq and a more practical boot, while it’s better to drive than the Tucson (a car with which it shares its basic underpinnings).

If you can live without adaptive cruise control and heated seats, and can put up with an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen instead of a 12.3in one, it’s worth looking at the cheapest 2 trim. However, for most buyers, 3 trim is worth the extra and adds a layer of luxury to the Sportage’s many talents, with creature comforts ranging from keyless entry to heated seats (front and rear) and adaptive cruise control.

Read our full Kia Sportage review or see the latest Kia Sportage deals

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