Kia Sportage long-term test: report 5

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 crossing ford

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 1850 List price £33,700 Target Price £32,309 Price as tested £34,350 Test economy 32.6mpg Official economy 44.1mpg

7 February 2023 – Early warning sign

For years, we’ve been hearing about exhaust particulate filters in diesel cars getting clogged up if they spend too much time running around at low speeds, potentially causing engine damage if warnings are ignored.

These filters have become commonplace in petrol cars too, due to the stringent emissions regulations that are now in force, but I’ve never actually run a car in which I’ve had an issue with one. Until now.

After several chilly weeks in which my Kia Sportage hadn’t ventured outside the M25 much, a warning message popped up in the instrument panel saying “Keep driving to regenerate exhaust filter”. Given that I’ve had my car for only a few months, this came as a bit of a shock. I had no idea how far I’d have to drive for the regeneration process to be completed, but a quick 20-mile run, half of which was at motorway speeds, failed to do the job. 

Kia Sportage LT exhaust filter warning

With more time available a couple of days later, I headed out for a longer blast down the M3 and into the Hampshire countryside. The best part of an hour and 50 miles later, I was starting to think a visit to a Kia dealership might be necessary when the instrument panel suddenly reverted back to normal, the higher-speed driving having done the trick. I have to say I felt inordinately relieved.

Part of that jaunt took in some of my favourite A and B-roads in Hampshire. While the Sportage probably isn’t the ideal car for a Sunday morning blast, it’s still very capable and good to drive, with agile handling and reasonable body control along uneven country roads.

Kia Sportage LT scenic

The 48-volt mild hybrid engine in my car is much stronger than its 148bhp power output might suggest, too, with enough low-down punch that I rarely need to rev the engine hard to make brisk progress. The accelerator pedal has a detente towards the bottom of its travel to discourage you from being too lead-footed, but it’s quite easy to forget it’s there, because the car feels plenty quick enough without pressing that hard. 

This ought to aid fuel economy, but my Sportage isn’t doing as well as expected on that front, ranging between 32mpg and 35mpg, the latter figure being achieved only when I go on longer trips. Clearly – as the exhaust filter warning confirmed – I need to get out (of town) more.

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