Why the new Sportage has the Kia for success

The new 2016 Kia Sportage is a winner all right
The new 2016 Kia Sportage is a winner all right

Kia Sportage - EX 1.7D model

When it came to this year’s January car sales, Hyundai was like Usain Bolt out of the starting blocks with its new Tucson.

It is so popular, that it has outsold both the much-loved Volkswagen Golf and even the ever-popular Ford Focus in the first three months of the year.

Figures for the end of March show that the Tucson has sold close to 4,350 units compared to Volkswagen’s 2,868 Golfs.

Hyundai’s sister company, Kia, were unfortunately slow out of the starting blocks, as its new Sportage hadn’t arrived in time for the January push.

However, like the old cliché says: it is a marathon not a sprint and, since its arrival, the new Sportage has being playing catch-up with the runaway leader already selling close to 1,600 units.

With stiff competition from the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan’s popular Qashqai and Renault’s new affordable Kadjar, Kia had to really push the boat out to get this one right – and I think it has.

It is fair to say, that I have always had a soft spot for the Kia Sportage, as it’s my family car.

It’s the car that ferries the children to school, gymnastics, GAA, soccer and everywhere else, when they are not being treated to one of my posh test-drives.

The third-generation model was already a winner in my eyes, however, the latest Sportage to roll off the production line has come on in leaps and bounds to the one I own.

I was extremely impressed with how much the Korean company has moved it upmarket, and have replaced most of the cheap plastics with more soft-touch materials and a neat and easy-to-use touch-screen system.

Where the cabin of the outgoing Sportage is focused around a clearly-defined central console, with a vertical design, the new model features horizontal lines to emphasise the width of the interior more effectively and generate a greater impression of space and sportiness.

On the engine front, the new Sportage comes with two engine options – 1.7D for 2WD and 2.0D for AWD. 

The 1.7 engine has been refined for extra efficiency and, with the addition of idle ‘stop-and-go’ technology as standard, the new Sportage moves from Band B2 to A4 with annual road tax now at €200 per year.

Again, like its Optima sibling, I feel the engine range slightly lets it down – and I feel it could do with a larger engine range to choose from.

However, the 1.7-litre diesel is more than capable on Irish roads, and I couldn’t fault it on motorways or around town.

The new Sportage comes in three trim levels: LX (€27,995), EX (€29,995) and GSe (€34,495). 

My test car for the week was the EX SR (sunroof) model, and will be the one that will make up the core sales here in Ireland.

This model comes with a host of comfort and safety features including, 17-inch alloys, sat nav, reversing camera, driver’s power seat, half-leather seats, speed-limit info, high-beam assist and lane-keep assist. 

The top-of-the-range GSe adds 19-inch alloys, sunroof, full leather, heated seats, power-passenger seat, smart-key entry and Xenon lights.

Commenting on the arrival of the new Sportage in Ireland, James Brooks, Managing Director of Kia Motors Ireland said: “The Kia Sportage has been a key driver in the growth of the Kia brand in Ireland with over 11,000 very happy customers as brand ambassadors for the car.

“Competition in this segment is growing but we are confident that the new Sportage will emulate and exceed the success of its predecessors. 

“Following a very successful pre-marketing campaign, we are forecasting full-year sales of 3,500 in 2016.”

Overall, I couldn’t recommend the Sportage highly enough. I have lived with the older model for the last four years and it has never given me an ounce of trouble.

I don’t even know how they have improved on an engine that was already very fuel efficient. 

I can honestly say that I only ever stick 50 quid in it, and it would nearly last me the month on normal day-to-day driving.

And, on top of that, it also comes with Kia’s outstanding seven-year warranty.