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Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Kia Sportage performance is quite good with a choice of petrol and diesel options available.

The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol option comes with 133bhp, but this feels underwhelming in the Sportage's bulky packag. It will take an average 10.7 seconds to reach 62mph but feels sluggish throughout and finally go on to a top speed of 111mph. For Kia Sportage performance, this engine then is best avoided and feels like the poor relation in the line-up. The 2.0-litre petrol which is powered with 161bhp with a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds with the five-speed manual gearbox and 10.8 seconds with the six-speed auto 'box.

Kia Sportage Diesel engines

The 2.0-litre diesel version is available with two power outputs, the lower has an official 0-60mph time of 10.9 seconds, which is fairly impressive but the 1,754kg kerb weight and high riding position makes the whole experience feel somewhat slow. Maximum torque of 320Nm is delivered between 1,800 and 2,500rpm and the peak power of 134bhp is delivered at 4,000rpm. It's not very flexible in terms of power delivery, which means the Sportage labours after reaching its peak torque. A flat-to-the-floor approach is required when overtaking on single carriageways and a swift passing maneouvre really needs a drop of two gears. Top speed is a fit-for-purpose 112mph.

The higher powered option offers 181bhp and a 0-62 mph time of 9.4 seconds. The engine also comes with an all-Wheel Drive system and a top speed of 120mph when accompanied by the six-speed manual gearbox or 121mph if you opt for the automatic. This engine choice is only available with the KX-4 top trim.

The 1.7 CRDi is slightly better choice, with the pulling power of the diesel engine much better suited in this car. it comes with 114bhp and the 0-62mph benchmark takes 11.9 seconds with a top speed of 107mph.

Parkers recommends

By far and the best choice of engine in the Kia Sportage is the 114bhp 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine for its economy and emissions, which are helped by it only being available with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox.

Kia Sportage handling doesn't impress that much: there's too much body roll in the bends and it's not particularly keen on turn-in. Steering is vague and if you enter a corner with too much gusto the Sportage struggles to stay on line. The brakes are excellent, however. There are better 4x4s to drive but if your journeys are restricted to urban environments or motorway driving then it's good enough for the job.

The Sportage's all-wheel drive system has an electronically controlled single high-ratio transmission that delivers 100% of engine torque to the front wheels when driving normally in good conditions but the torque can be redistributed up to a maximum of 60:40 front-to-rear to help cornering stability if it gets slippery. For off-road driving, owners can manually select lock mode, which gives a 50:50 torque split at speeds of up to 25mph, enhancing traction.

There's also a hill descent system that's useful in muddy, rough terrain. This ensures the car maintains a steady speed of 5mph when descending steep slopes so that the driver does not need to touch the brakes, which might result in a loss of traction. There's also hill start assist that prevents you from rolling when setting off uphill, eliminating the possibility of wheelspin.