The old Kia Sportage looked budget-bland and fairly impotent but in late 2010 came the current form. A family and leisure-oriented five-door sport utility vehicle (SUV) with presence, good looks, space and style.
Suddenly the South Korean automaker received lots of attention and even BMW X5 drivers started commenting on the Sportage's appeal.
The used 2010 onwards Sportage line-up includes four engines, including highly efficient 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol and 1.7-litre turbo diesel units with manual and automatic transmissions. It also comes with front-wheel drive or active all-wheel-drive.
The flagship model, the KX-4, features a more-powerful-than-usual turbo diesel engine. It is joined to either a six-speed manual, or six-speed automatic transmission.
It is not sluggish either and, when fitted with the six-speed manual transmission, top speed is 120mph. The CO2 emissions are 158g/km and an average of 46mpg can be teased from the tank.
Ride and handling
For a relatively big car the Kia Sportage is surprisingly easy to drive and park. This is down to a power-assisted steering system that ensures light, easy manoeuvrability at low speeds but with enough weightiness and feedback to make the car agile and stable at motorway speeds.
The Kia also delivers an absorbent and comfortable ride on pretty much any road surface.
Inside, the spacious five-seat cabin is as dynamic as the handsome exterior. It’s dominated by a multi-tier dashboard that narrows as it sweeps in from the sides towards the middle, leading into an eye-catching centre console.
When it comes to loading up, boot space is good enough for, say, shoving in an old washing machine to take to the tip.
What to know before you buy
The 2010 onwards Sportage is still so contemporary that no real issues have surfaced over the last five years. Because it has a seven year transferable warranty, you have the luxury of still being covered by part of it.
Also, it is only unlimited in mileage for the first three years, then restricted to 100,000 miles until the end of the seventh year.
Also, the battery and air conditioning are only covered for two years, and the audio system is covered for three. Furthermore, with all Sportages being excellently kitted out, there’s little point going for anything any pricier than the basic XE trim.
XS boasts climate control rather than air-con, leather upholstery and a sunroof, but it’s not worth the extra money.
The Nissan Qashqai is a major rival to the Kia Sportage. It is generally more comfortable and sophisticated. It also has lower emissions and even better fuel economy.
Another competitor is the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross. It has a relatively appealing driving experience, loads of equipment and a low price-tag. Nevertheless, the S-Cross is not quite as roomy inside as the Kia and it looks a little unexciting.
The Mazda CX-5 is also worth a look. It offers some of the keenest fuel economy and CO2 figures of any SUV, while being roomy, well stacked with kit and used examples are priced to sell.
The Kia Sportage is an impressive all-rounder. On one hand it is a perfect secondhand buy for young families who want a fashionable, smart, fairly fuel-efficient motor.
On the other hand, it makes a good workhorse for business users, especially those in rural settings who need all-wheel-drive grip.
What's more, the Sportage comes with that unique selling point – Kia’s wonderfully reassuring and transferable warranty.