best-selling Kia heads to the top end of the SUV grid
- Cheap to buy compared with rivals
- Long warranty is still compelling
- Low leasing rates add attractiveness
- Some rivals more practical
- Competitors better on fuel and tax
- Avoid the petrol auto version
The Kia Sportage is a household name. The Korean firm sold a massive 90,000 units of the popular third-generation car since its introduction in 2010, but it’s fair to say it was beginning to feel its age.
So the fourth version of the family-focused SUV continues this trend. It has ushered in vast improvements in a number of areas to keep it competitive with accomplished rivals in the shape of the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.
Vastly improved driving experience
We were particularly impressed with the blend of ride comfort and handling (major chassis revisions and a new steering system help here) while the engine choices offer improved efficiency for those all-important lower running costs.
There are four motors on offer – a pair each of petrols and diesels – along with six-speed manual, six-speed automatic and seven-speed twin-clutch DCT automatic gearboxes.
Kia Sportage is well equipped as standard
It carries Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose’ styling language, which seems to suit this size of car very well. The equipment levels are a simple 1, 2, 3 and 4 format, with a special GT-Line trim slotting into the middle and a First Edition special model available for a limited time at launch.
As ever with Kia, there’s a huge amount of equipment built into most trims. If we’re being brutal we’d say that 1 specification is a little parsimonious, but moving up to 2 nets you a huge amount of useful kit including a touchscreen sat-nav and reversing camera.
You also get cruise control, parking sensors, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic lights and wipers. It’s this specification, plus the low-emission 1.7 diesel, that makes the Sportage work well as a company car.
Right at the top of the range was a model built to celebrate the launch of the fourth generation. Dubbed First Edition, it had almost everything Kia can throw at a car – and is well worth seeking out as a used buy.
Highlights of that car include automatic parking, a powered tailgate, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and wireless smartphone charging – but only if your device supports it.
Long Kia warranty, great build quality
Of course, every Kia also gets the company's seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty. Not only is this transferable to a second owner if you choose to sell the car, but if you buy a car from an offical used Kia dealership that is less than 18 months old, the seven-year warranty period is reset.
But that isn’t an indication of unreliability – far from it – because Kia has built a fantastic reputation for build quality over recent years and the new Sportage feels better in this respect than any previous car from the company.
Thanks to the warranty and build quality, Kia has managed to secure impressive predicted residual values for this car. That translates directly into low PCP payments, and at launch Kia was advertising monthly payments starting at a barely believable £139 per month with a £3,700 deposit.
One of our only major issues with the new Sportage is the boot, which is large but less flexible than some rivals, so make sure it fits your requirements before taking the plunge.
The Parkers Verdict
There are plenty of reasons to buy – or indeed lease – a new Sportage. Low CO2 emissions mean it won’t cost the earth to tax, there’s a long warranty, you get well-equipped versions, and it's practical, too.
What you might not expect is how well it drives. When Kia was developing the Sportage, it used the Range Rover Evoque as a dynamic benchmark, and we can see why – it feel planted on the motorway, and light and manoeuvrable around town. And as an added bonus, it's also a nicely-made thing, with a solid-feeling interior, with a very comfortable driving position.
In summary, a solid and capable choice.