Kia Sportage long-term test: report 2

The Sportage is one of our favourite family SUVs, and the mild hybrid version promises low running costs, but what's it like to actually live with? We're finding out...

Kia Sportage LT front cornering 2

The car Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi 48V ISG 3 Run by Allan Muir, managing editor

Why we’re running it To find out whether a petrol family SUV still makes sense in the face of growing electric competition, and whether the Sportage is among the best of them

Needs to Be comfortable, good to drive and practical in daily use, and be frugal enough to keep running costs down

Mileage 839 List price £33,700 Target Price £32,473 Price as tested £34,350 Test economy 34.6mpg Official economy 44.1mpg

29 November 2022 – Compare and contrast

Apologies in advance for making continual comparisons between my new Kia Sportage and the Kia EV6 I ran previously. I know they aren’t direct rivals – the Sportage being smaller and more of a conventional SUV than its electric stablemate – but the EV6, being our reigning Car of the Year, is my current benchmark for cars generally. So it’s gratifying to discover that the Sportage is actually superior in some ways.

Kia Sportage LT driving position

For one thing, the driving position is better. You sit higher in the Sportage, so you have a clearer view ahead and to the sides at junctions, while the driver’s seat is broader and more comfortable for me, although it perhaps isn’t quite as supportive through corners. I prefer the Sportage’s three-spoke steering wheel over the unusual two-spoke one in the EV6, too. 

Then there are the external door handles. The Sportage’s are conventional pull-out handles with a little button that you thumb to lock or unlock the doors keylessly. This might sound like no big deal, but they’re far more natural to use than the EV6’s flush-fitting ones, which had to be levered outwards awkwardly before they could be pulled on to open the door.

Kia Sportage LT door handle

Inevitably, though, there are one or two areas in which the Sportage doesn’t compare quite so favourably. The most dramatic difference for me, coming from a seamlessly smooth electric car, is how hesitant and jerky the Sportage’s dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be at low speeds. Sometimes, pulling out of a junction can be an untidy affair, especially if I’m going for a gap in traffic. And I’ve elected to stop using the ‘auto hold’ function (which automatically applies the parking brake when you come to a halt so you don’t have to keep your foot on the brake pedal), because this tends to create enough of a lurch when pulling away that the front wheels can break traction briefly.

Kia Sportage LT panning 2

Fortunately, the Sportage’s gearbox is a lot smoother when the car is going a bit quicker. The same can be said for the ride, which is decidedly unsettled around town but gets a lot better as speeds rise beyond 30mph. At a 70mph cruise, the Sportage is actually very comfortable and composed. I can see it being an excellent long-distance companion.

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