This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Kia Sportage review.

Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

There are three engine choices in the Sportage range - two petrols and a diesel. However the 2.7-litre V6 is a rare choice and although it's powerful and smooth, it can get noisy at high revs and doesn't feel particularly quick. Average fuel economy of 28mpg is another reason to avoid it. The other petrol is a 2.0-litre with 140bhp. It's lively enough with a slick gearchange, but when fully loaded it can struggle on hills.

The diesel is the best choice in the line-up. Originally the CRDi engine delivered 112bhp and was a little sluggish and noisy when pushed. When the model was facelifted in 2008 it was upgraded to 138bhp while economy remained unchanged at 40mpg. This later version is far superior, quieter and offers much stronger low down pulling power. Original cars came with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard but an auto was optional on the V6 petrol and - from 2007 - on the diesel.

Later manual diesels got a six-speed gearbox which is more positive.

While the Sportage has a soft ride - and deals well with uneven roads - it's very poor in corners. The overly assisted steering is vague and there's excessive body roll, so much so that it can feel almost unnerving in tight bends. Thankfully facelifted models from 2007 got new suspension which greatly reduced body roll, while the brakes were also improved and the steering made more responsive.

This all had a marked improvement and the Sportage now feels far more composed and surefooted. It's available either with just front-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive system. The latter uses a sophisticated 'Active Torque Transfer' system that automatically directs power from front-only to all four wheels is slippage is detected. Permanent four-wheel drive can be selected manually and works up to 25mph.