In association with MotorEasy
Car of the Year Awards 2023: Family SUV of the Year
Cars in this class must obviously provide sufficient space for families. However, the best also offer a comfortable ride and tidy handling, and blend gutsy performance with wallet-friendly costs...
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi 3
Like Max Verstappen on his way to the 2022 Formula 1 drivers’ title, the Kia Sportage has been unstoppable in the past 12 months – and obviously we’re not talking about its braking performance here.
As you’d expect, we’ve tested it extensively in various guises – the hybrid version going up against the rival Ford Kuga and Hyundai Tucson, and the regular petrol version taking on first the Mazda CX-5, then the Skoda Karoq and Vauxhall Grandland. And the Sportage has emerged victorious every time, confirming that it’s now the best family SUV you can buy.
While you also can get the Sportage in mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid guises, we favour the non-electrified entry-level petrol version, because that’s where the best value lies. The 1.6-litre engine has the same power output as the pricier mild hybrid and, despite its lack of electrical assistance, is only fractionally behind it in terms of acceleration and fuel economy.
The Kuga and Seat Ateca may be a little more fun to drive, but the Sportage strikes a near-ideal balance between agility and comfort. It rounds off potholes and ridges better than the Tucson and is a very comfortable and composed companion when cruising along at higher speeds.
The Sportage also has one of the best interiors in the class, blending practicality with style in a persuasive way. It looks and feels smarter inside than the Ateca and Skoda Karoq, with plenty of soft-touch materials. Head and leg room are generous, and rear passengers get reclining seatbacks, while the boot behind them is even bigger than that of the highly practical Karoq.
Even entry-level 2 trim comes well equipped, but you don’t have to spend a lot more to step up to our preferred 3 trim. That adds heated seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and a large, curved display for the instruments and infotainment that gives the dashboard a real wow factor.
When you consider all you get (including a generous seven-year warranty) and how complete the Sportage is as a family SUV, the asking price of our favourite version seems like fine value – especially next to our former class champion, the Volvo XC40, which is now too pricey (especially on PCP finance) for us to wholeheartedly recommend. For the money, nothing else – including its Tucson stablemate – is quite so polished.
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