Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) seem to be all the rage. Motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay says the Kia Sportage KX-4 stands out from the crowd.
From the likes of Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, Suzuki, Toyota and Honda, one make and model of SUV particularly stands out from the crowd – the Kia Sportage.
The old Sportage looked budget-bland and fairly impotent but in late 2010 came the current form: a family/leisure-oriented five-door motor with presence, good looks, space and style.
Suddenly Kia received lots of attention and even BMW X5 drivers (I know a few of these 'premium' SUV car driving folk) started commenting on the Sportage's appeal.
The charismatic Kia is relatively easy on the pocket to run and, above all else, comes with a magical seven year warranty.
And now that the South Korean car-maker is confident the UK public likes what it produces, it has unleashed a top-of-the-range KX-4 version of the Sportage.
Kia Sportage KX-4 2.0 CRDi AWD: Spec
The flagship model features a more powerful than usual turbo diesel engine alongside the most luxurious level of specification yet seen in the company's popular car.
The Sportage KX-4 uses a 181bhp version of Kia's 2.0-litre CRDi oil-burner, joined to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission - and an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system.
And the supreme Sportage wants for nothing in terms of equipment, with leather upholstery, a touch screen satellite navigation system and iPod connectivity.
It also sits five comfortably, and has practical 4x4 grip for outdoor leisure pursuits, or for when the tarmac converts to mud, ice or snow.
Indeed, it's a clever car. The Kia Sportage KX-4 constantly monitors driving conditions and predicts when AWD will be needed.
Thus guarantees it is always in the proper drive mode for the prevailing circumstances.
Parallel parking assist system
It also has an ingenious Parallel Parking Assist System (PPAS) complete with all-round parking sensors.
The KX-4 features a keyless smart entry system and an engine stop/start button to prevent you wasting precious juice when idling in traffic.
If that's not enough, standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and Xenon lights.
Automatic lights and wipers, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control and heated front and rear seats also come as standard.
Standard equipment also includes cruise control, colour reversing camera and a seven-speaker stereo - complete with external amplifier and subwoofer. Phew!
Cabin plastics lacking
Some of the cabin plastics are a bit second-rate, but all instruments are highly visible and the switchgear is logically placed – unlike in some far more expensive vehicles.
The boot is a good rectangular shape though, and spacious enough for shoving in an old washing machine to take to the tip.
It's not sluggish either: the KX-4 will zip from 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds.
And when fitted with the six-speed manual transmission, top speed is 120mph, CO2 emissions are 158g/km and an average of 46mpg can be teased from the tank.
The car always feels well planted to the road with minimum lean on corners, and long distance commuting is made easy with Kia's well-padded seats.
Kia Sportage KX-4 2.0 CRDi AWD: Cost
The Sportage KX-4 2.0 CRDi 181bhp manual is priced at £27,195 on the road.
What's more, it comes with Kia's unique selling point – that wonderfully reassuring, fully transferable, seven year warranty.
Kia Sportage KX-4 2.0 CRDi AWD: Pros & cons
- Looks √
- Comfort √
- Grip √
- Warranty √
- Cabin plastics X
Kia Sportage KX-4 2.0 CRDi AWD: Fast facts
- Max speed: 120 mph
- 0-60 mph: 9.4 secs
- Combined mpg: 46.3
- Engine: 1995 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder turbo diesel
- Max. power (bhp): 181 at 4000 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 282 at 1800-2500 rpm
- CO2: 158 g/km
- Price: £27,195 on the road