Living with: Kia Sportage

Living with: Kia Sportage
Living with: Kia Sportage

After 17,000 miles in just seven months, we’re losing a valuable friend

Spotting examples of Kia’s handsome mid-sized SUV is not exactly difficult. The Sportage is Kia’s best selling model, and the UK importer has been desperate for more stock to sell.

The large number of Sportage buyers in the UK has been greatly influenced by two factors: tempting finance offers, and the car’s effortless ability to do a job.

Pretty much any job. It does the commuting and city parking thing, the carrying families and all their gubbins thing, the going places quickly and cheaply thing, and the motorway cruise thing, all in an unpretentious, efficient style. Even brand snobs are seeing past their prejudices to join the queue of buyers.

 

We know that long-term tests throw up a lot of stuff that road tests don’t reveal, so we were keen to see how a Sportage could fit into the manically busy, multi-ownership challenge of a long-term test. We opted for a mid-stream 2.0 CRDi KX-3 model (they go up to KX-5). This has just about everything you need (electric windows, air-con, etc) without expensive extras like radar cruise control and panoramic sunroof.

In short, everyone loved it. And by everyone we mean at least 15 people who racked up 17,000 miles in seven months taking families to France, Wales and the West Country, helping with house moves, commuting from far and wide and serving duty as a photographer’s base, its spacious boot proving perfect for snapper acrobatics and storage.

Mainly though it packed in the miles because folk enjoyed driving it. Given that we have plenty of other often more exotic metal in the car park to choose from, that’s a big compliment to the Kia.

KIA SPORTAGE 2.0 CRDI 130 KX-3

Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder
Power: 134bhp
Torque: 275lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1550kg
0-62mph: 10.1sec
Top speed: 114mph

What did we like best about it? Well, being able to get in and out of it for a start. That might sound a bit unambitious, but modern cars often sacrifice ease of access to the god of door styling, so it was good to enjoy the Kia’s generous apertures. It’s roomy too, although one user who took his family on a camping trip to Wales noted that a roof box was required.

We had a long-term Vauxhall Astra SRi at the same time as the Sportage, which gave us an interesting chance to compare hatchbacks with SUVs. The Astra always felt more agile, but the Kia countered nicely with head room, more upright seating (which some prefer for long trips) and superior visibility over the UK’s roadside hedges and walls.

By the law of averages, the more miles you do in a car, the more chance there is of accumulating some collateral damage. In the Sportage’s case that included two kerbed wheels and, just one day before its return, a tennis-ball sized mark on the windscreen caused by a flying rock.

Any Sportage traits we didn’t like so much? Small stuff really. The front seats were adequate rather than brilliant, the steering seemed a bit too reactive at higher speeds, and the seam of pretend stitches across the dashboard was a nasty contrast with the nicely crafted switchgear.

The KX-3 spec turned out to be ideal, and so was the 134bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine. We nearly went for the more expensive and juicier 182bhp unit but discovered just in time that its peak torque was only 6 per cent greater than the 134bhp engine’s output. Our car never lacked in flexibility or usable speed.

Altogether this was a practical, strong, and enjoyable SUV. We’ll miss it.

Mileage at start 1065,  Mileage at end 18,220
List price new £27,000; List price now £27,250
Price as tested £27,000
Dealer value now £22,000; Private value now £21,500; Trade value now £20,000
FUEL CONSUMPTION AND RANGE
Claimed economy 54.3mpg (combined); Test average 42.2mpg; Test best 46.0mpg; Test worst 33.5mpg; Real-world range 475 miles

SERVICE AND RUNNING COSTS
Contract hire rate £325 per month; CO2 134g/km; Service costs: None; Other costs: None; Fuel costs: £2127; Running costs inc fuel: £2127; Cost per mile: 15.9 pence; Depreciation: £7000; Cost per mile inc depreciation: 53.2 pence; Faults: None

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